Pilates has been taught since the beginning of the 20th century in various formats since its originator Joseph Pilates initially developed it to help himself, then war casualties and latterly; sportspeople, performers and the public. He developed individual exercise regimes which produced the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.
Put simply the regular practice of Pilates can change the way you look, the way you feel and the way you move, by reshaping, re-balancing and realigning your body, leading to a leaner body, increased flexibility and greater underlying strength.
Due to the slow, controlled nature of the movements most people think that this is a practice primarily designed for the `older’ population and females at that. However, these perceptions are wrong and it is regularly practiced by; athletes, gymnasts, ballet dancers and sportspeople both to improve performance and aid injury recovery.
Pilates takes account of all elements of our bodies’ movements; the nervous system, the skeleton and our muscles as all these need to work in harmony if we are to optimise our movement. By moving incorrectly or restricting movements we can create all sorts of problems.
In today’s sedentary world people are sitting more than standing, using transport rather than walking and basically not using their muscles properly (or not at all). This particularly affects the anti-gravity postural muscles that lie deep within the body. It is these muscles which support the spine and other joints, and if they weaken, other muscles take on their role and imbalances will occur. Therefore we need to slowly relearn and re-educate our body to move correctly again, and this is where Pilates comes in as it teaches us to think about and practice good movement . After time this becomes automatic, the muscles remember this and better habits are learned.
In summary the benefits of Pilates are:
Improved posture, flexibility and joint mobility
Greater strength and muscle tone (especially the core area)
More efficient respiratory, lymphatic and circulatory systems
Lowered stress levels and boosted immune system
Improve performance with fewer injuries
Less potential for back pain and improved bone density