What is Pilates - The History and Health Benifits

What is Pilates?

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of holistic exercise that is designed around controlled movements that coordinate the mind and body to improve strength, posture, flexibility and the overall awareness of the body. Pilates revolves around resistance exercises that focus on stretching and lengthening the muscles. This form of exercise is usually performed on a mat and is supervised by a qualified instructor.

The very nature of Pilates makes it a low impact form of exercise as it builds the muscles from the inside-out. It can also heighten your sense of awareness about your body as well as increase your mobility. There are different variations of Pilates as well that build upon the core strength of your body. It is a very rewarding form of exercise.

The History of Pilates

The History of Pilates

The History of Pilates

The exercise is named after the man who invented it, Joseph Pilates. A German-born emigrant, Joseph was a sickly child who wanted a healthier, stronger existence that involved the natural movements and forms that were around him. Taking his inspiration from yoga and the movements of animals, Joseph developed “Contrology” which used concentration and focus to strengthen the core of the body.

Those who first benefitted from his workouts were athletes and dancers who were injured and prisoners of war as well. The benefits of his workout was quickly recognized and spread around the world. Joseph himself kept refining the techniques and soon the workout became known by his last name, Pilates.

What Pilates can do for You

Although Pilates offers many different types of exercises, they are still built around the same core issues;

  • Centering
  • Control
  • Breath
  • Position
  • Flow
  • Concentration 

Pilates can work for almost everyone since it is low impact. It is challenging, but one that a person can build up to quickly as their muscles improve. The Pilates classes will demonstrate new movements and positions for your body that will strengthen your core and you can focus on different aspects as well. 

Mat Exercises

Mat Exercises

Mat Exercises

This is how most beginners start out when performing Pilates. There is no equipment and no expense outside the instruction and time it takes to perform the exercises. Here, you learn how to control your muscles properly so you can maximize the results.

Pilates mat classes usually have up to 30 people involved and will rotate around different muscles groups that encourage strength, mobility and flexibility as well. The Pilates instructor will ensure that the proper technique is followed and smaller classes will result in more personalized training.




Generally speaking, Pilates involves resistance exercises and the equipment that is used involves pulleys and other types of machines that use your own body weight. This works very well for people who may have some physical limitations. Although at first some of the exercises will be challenging, a few private sessions may help boost your abilities so you can move on to new classes.

The Differences between Pilates and Yoga

Although they are very similar in terms of being mat-oriented exercises and focusing on developing strength, balance, flexibility, posture and better breathing techniques, Yoga is a more spiritual form of exercise while Pilates is focused on the core of the body and going outwards from there, developing the strength, flexibility and overall quality of life. However, there are those who practice both forms together and are often called “Yodalates”.

Who Can Do Pilates?

You can do Pilates as it was designed originally to help those recovering from injuries. Those with limited mobility or physical abilities can still participate and benefit from Pilates. In fact, Pilates is the perfect workout for those who have not exercised in years.

Pilates can be set to any fitness level, even those who are inactive and is challenging for those who are very fit as well. It is recommended that you see your doctor and get a physical exam before doing any exercise routine. 

The Benefits of Pilates

There are a number of benefits to using this type of exercise that start with the overall strengthening of the body, better posture and overall mental well being that this form of exercise brings. Other benefits include the following;

Relieve Back Pain

The basic principles of Pilates works for getting rid of back pain that is caused by the misalignment of the spine due to poor posture. By working on your posture and strengthening the back muscles, Pilates has a very powerful effect in getting rid of the pain, stiffness and soreness of the back muscles. 

Leaner & Stronger

Pilates is a very important form of resistance exercise that builds up the lean muscle tissues and causes the body to become leaner and stronger at the same time. Pilates is quite effective at providing the exact type of exercise needed to ensure that your body benefits in the long run.

Body Awareness

Pilates is an education that teaches the mind to be in more control of the body and respond in positive ways to keep good posture, become more flexible, and build up the coordination as well. This can translate to everyday life as well in how you stand, sit and move about.

Weight Loss

Although not often thought of as a weight loss method, building up the lean muscle tissues actually helps the body burn away more calories. You will need to follow a good, healthy diet that feeds the body the right nutrients, but it has been demonstrated that those who attend Pilates classes are more likely to burn away the calories.

Finding the Right Pilates Instructor

You will need to find one who is fully qualified and certified by the proper governing organizations. The instructor will need to be accredited and licensed to teach Pilates in the areas in which they instruct. Once you have found such a person, you can get personalized training or join a class and get into shape with others.

Pilates is certainly a wonderful type of exercise that has helped many thousands of people get into shape around the world. It is simple, straightforward and anyone can participate in Pilates. 

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