HISTORY OF PILATES
Joseph H Pilates created the
Pilates system of exercise some 75 years ago. Throughout his childhood and
early adult years he suffered rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever and with
determination to overcome his health problems he studied and developed and
exercise programme that assisted in restoring him to optimal health. He
focused on sports such as Gymnastics, Boxing, Wrestling, Skiing, Dance,
Yoga, Circus Training and Weight training and chose certain aspects of
these to develop his own body. By selecting the most effective components
of each exercise, he was then able to develop his own system, which aimed
to achieve the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.
At the age of 32 Joseph moved to
England where he used his skills as a professional boxer to teach
self-defence to members of the police force. 0
During the First World War, he was
interned in a prison camp by the British authorities due to him and
several of his other fellow countrymen being German nationals. It was here
that he developed his own exercises to keep him and the other internees
fit and healthy; he later claimed that these exercises protected him and
the others from the flu epidemic of 1918 that killed thousands in Britain.
After the war he continually
developed his method. He observed that when there was a weak or misaligned
area in the body a person tended to overcompensate or overdevelop another
area. Thus, it was vital to correct this misalignment as well as re
educating the body to prevent injuries reoccurring. He also believed that
true well-being could be achieved through physical fitness and a positive
Pilates was particularly popular
with dancers, gymnasts and athletes who appreciated the benefits of this
program of mental and physical conditioning that gave them strength,
flexibility and the important link between mind and body.
Today Pilates is practiced by many
and has become very popular with the general public. It is suitable for
all ages and all levels of fitness. It focuses on slow and controlled
movements aimed at strengthening the core abdominal muscles that stabilise
the spine, realign the body, improve and correct posture. It aims to bring
the mind and body together through breathing, balance, control and
Benefits of Pilates
1 Improved Flexibility 2 Greater
Strength and Muscle Tone 3 More Efficient Respiratory and Circulatory
System 4 More Efficient Lymphatic System, reducing toxins in the body 5
Lowered Stress Levels 6 Flatter stomach and trimmer waist through the
creation of a natural girdle of strength (core stability) 7 Improved
Posture 8 Toned buttocks and Thighs 9 Toned Upper body 10 Less incidence
of Back Pains 11 Boosted immune system 12 Greater joint mobility
The Pilates Principles
The Pilates method is based on the
Concentration - To diminish all
thoughts and focus fully on the movements, with one movement flowing into
Breath – The focus is on breathing
through the rib cage, known in Pilates as Lateral Thoracic Breathing, thus
assisting in maintaining the engagement of the deep abdominal muscles.
Centering – Everyone movement in
Pilates is controlled by the contraction of the deep abdominal muscles (Transversus
Abdominis, Lumbar Multifidus and the Pelvic Floor muscles) creating a
strong centre or ‘core’ as we tend to refer to it in Pilates. It is these
muscles that we concentrate on strengthening.
Quality – Correct alignment of the
body is a vital factor in Pilates. The positioning of the body and
mastering the techniques used is the key to the quality and effectiveness
of each movement.
Flowing Movement – All exercises in
Pilates are carried out in a continuous flowing way, to ensure slow and
controlled movements with a smooth transition from one exercise into the
next. We aim to work with the breath as we contract and relax the muscles.
Awareness – Everyone is unique and
has there own strengths and weaknesses. Each exercise will challenge each
individual in a different way, promoting our own body awareness, control
and effective execution of the movements.
Stamina – Repetition and frequency
increases the level at which we work and the strengthening of the body
Relaxation – By recognising areas
of tension in the body we aim to focus on releasing this tension by
relaxing through the body and allowing it to move in a natural flowing
Aims of the class
Pilates classes are progressive and
each term aims to slowly and gradually increase the muscle tone, strength
and endurance (without building huge muscles). The exercises essentially
remain the same but with different variations. As participants become more
familiar with the exercises, techniques and principles of Pilates, more
progressive levels can then be introduced but generally it can take around
six weeks to master the breathing and become familiar with the set up of
the body. However, if you do feel ready to learn the more demanding levels
before hand please discuss this with me. Remember every body is unique and
some people may progress to further levels before others. Please don’t let
this worry you, concentrate on listening to your own body and making the
exercises work for you at whatever level you are at.
The content of the class will
consist of a warm up, which will include the ‘set up’ of the body and
mobilisation of the major joints.
The main session, which will
include a combination of strength and mobility mat based exercises at
beginner’s level 1 – 2 progressing to intermediate levels 3 – 4. An
appropriate release stretch is performed after each exercise, thus
enabling a smooth transition from one exercise into the next.
Finally, the session will end with
a short period of relaxation to bring the mind and body to a state of
rest, this is optional as to whether or not you wish to stay.
The entire class is conducted with
appropriate back ground music which I feel contributes well to the
ambience of the class.
It is advisable to wear tracksuit
bottoms and a t shirt/sweat shirt; generally clothes that are loose and do
not restrict movement. You can become quite warm in Pilates so please wear
a t-shirt as well as a jumper, thus the jumper can be removed if necessary
and replaced for the period of relaxation. Exercises are carried out in
barefoot or socks; it is your choice.
A towel can be brought along to aid
you in some positions if required and also to place over your mat for your
If you do have any questions or
queries regarding any of the exercises, whilst they are being demonstrated
or performed, please just raise your hand I will come over to you, thus
the rest of the class can continue, please do not carry on if you are
unsure; it is my responsibility that you are carrying out the exercise
effectively. However if you wish to discuss anything in depth or on a
personal level, please see me at the end of the class.
Please inform me if there are any
changes to your health questionnaires or problems you may be experiencing
upon arrival of the class so that I can alter any exercises for you.
If during the class you experience
any pain or discomfort which is not the result of working hard or a muscle
stretching, please inform me immediately so that I can offer an
alternative, remember to listen to your body.
Thank you for taking the time to
read this important handout, I do feel it will be beneficial to you in
understanding more about Pilates and the way in which I endeavour to run
the class. However, please feel free to contact me with any questions or