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 mental attitude.

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.

Pilates Today

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 concentration.

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 following principles:

Concentration - To diminish all thoughts and focus fully on the movements, with one movement flowing into the next

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 way.

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 own comfort.

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 queries.


        For more details or to book a class, please contact Aime       Tel: 01509 673525, Mobile: 07879 841079, email: aime@aimelallopilates.co.uk