The Pilates method was developed in the 1920s by Joseph H. Pilates, a German athlete and physical trainer, who initially developed his system when working to improve his own health and fitness. Later, he went on to work with patients who were unable to walk and then, when he emigrated to the USA in the 1920s, he introduced his system to dancers.
It soon became obvious that the Pilates method not only enabled dancers to improve their technique, but also recover from injury much more quickly. Pilates’ aim was to combine both Eastern and Western philosophies to create a whole body approach to exercise and fitness.
A Pilates’ exercise programme is individually designed for each client and is designed to increase relaxation, co-ordination, body alignment, stamina, concentration, centering, breathing and flowing movements.
After an initial discussion with the Pilates instructor to determine what the client hopes to achieve, the Instructor will design a specific programme of exercise and movement. Joseph H. Pilates created more than five hundred exercises and based his method on the idea that it was more beneficial to use fewer, precise movements requiring proper form and control, rather than simply perform many repetitions of the same exercise.
Pilates is taught both on a one-to-one basis and in a class setting. You should expect to wear loose and comfortable clothing and be prepared to work without shoes.
Both Pilates and yoga emphasise deep breathing techniques and encourage long fluid movements to relax and strengthen the muscles. The main difference is that Pilates emphasises a flow through a series of dynamic movements.
Practising Pilates regularly can help boost performance in a range of sports, and has been reported to reduce period-related cramps after a few months’ practice.
Pilates is very beneficial for people with chronic fatigue, stress-related illnesses and eating disorders.
Because each exercise programme is designed to suit the individual client, and because the exercises and movements are very controlled and precise, Pilates is particularly good for those who are new to exercise, and the elderly.
The Pilates method aims to increase strength and flexibility, improve posture and co-ordination, release stress and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Anyone who has a spine injury or a slipped disc, who has recently had a hernia operation, or who is pregnant should refrain from the exercise.
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