For anyone who prefers moderate, gentle exercise, pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) may be just the ticket. This is not to say that pilates is for weaklings. On the contrary! It strengthens your body even as it increases flexibility.
For these reasons, pilates is the exercise of choice for serious dancers and gymnasts, and is used widely for sports rehabilitation and physical therapy.
What Is Pilates?
Similar to yoga but a little more lively, pilates conditions the body as it increases flexibility, strength, and coordination. It does not add muscle bulk. Pilates also involves the mind, so that practitioners experience a sense of peace and fulfillment as they practice proper breathing.
While some pilates exercises require machinery, most are accomplished on a mat. These movements help with body alignment and balance even as they relax and stretch muscles.
Pilates concentrates on core strength. It promotes awareness of your body’s alignment and posture so that, after practicing it for a while, most people become attentive to how they stand, sit, and move.
Pilates shares movements and focus with more than yoga. It also touches on disciplines such as ballroom dancing, boxing, and swimming. Once a practitioner becomes comfortable with pilates, he or she feels stronger, more graceful, and confident.
Like yoga, pilates emphasizes the importance of deep and correct breathing. Breathing right promotes a sense of well being and calm.
Who Practices Pilates?
Pilates is recommended for everyone who wants to improve balance, core strength, flexibility, and stamina. It is also for those who seek inner peace and serenity.
Many practitioners claim that everyday aches and pains lessen or simply disappear and that they feel better all around.They move better, look better, and feel better about themselves.
Pilates is not recommended for those who suffer from chronic pain—such as back or neck pain—without a recommendation from a doctor.
A Short History
Pilates was imported to this country from Europe in 1926. Joseph Pilates, a German physical culturist, founded the discipline as a way to strengthen the mind and the body, which he believed were interconnected.
Pilates developed his eponymous system as a series of mat exercises, but it wasn’t long before some apparatus were introduced. Today, some pilates studios rely on a number of “machines” to help practitioners, while others concentrate on mat movements solely. Most employ a combination of both.