Pilates called his method "Contrology" (from "control" and Ancient Greek|Greek , -logy|-logia).*
Benefits of PilatesPilates is a Human body|body conditioning routine that may help build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the Human leg|legs, abdomen|abdominals, arms, hips, and Human back|back.* It puts emphasis on Vertebral column|spinal and human pelvis|pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.*
Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports correct posture, and teaches to move with ease and grace.* There is an increasing number of studies which are showing the benefits of Pilates in the rehab population.* It is useful for improving balance,* lumbar stabilization and flexibility,* lower back pain,* and pelvic floor dysfunction.*
HistoryPilates was designed by Joseph Pilates, a physical-culturist from Mönchengladbach, Germany. During the first half of the 20th century, he developed a system of exercises which were intended to strengthen the human mind and body. Pilates believed that mental and physical health are interrelated.*In his youth, he had practiced many of the physical training regimes available in Germany, and it was from these he developed his own work. It has clear connections with the physical culture of the late Nineteenth Century, such as the use of special apparatuses and claims that the exercises could cure ill health. It is also related to the tradition of "corrective exercise" or "medical gymnastics" as typified by Pehr Henrik Ling.
Pilates published two books related to his training method: Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education in 1934, and Return to Life Through Contrology in 1945. In common with early twentieth century physical culture, Pilates had an extremely high regard for the Greeks and the physical prowess demonstrated in their Gymnasium (ancient Greece)|Gymnasium.
His first students that went on to teach his methods and open studios, and most prominent include: Romana Kryzanowska, Kathy Grant, Jay Grimes, Ron Fletcher, Maja Wollman, Mary Bowen, Carola Treir, Bob Seed, Eve Gentry, Bruce King, Lolita San Miguel,* and Mary Pilates, Joseph's niece. Contemporary Pilates includes both the "Modern" Pilates and the "Classical/Traditional" Pilates. Modern Pilates is partly derived from the teaching of some first generation students, while Classical preserves and promotes the original work as Joseph Pilates taught it.
The method was originally confined to the few and normally practised in a specialised studio, but with time this has changed and Pilates, in whatever form, can now be found in community centres, gyms, and physiotherapy rooms, and many other fitness services offered by Pilates-inspired businesses who have mixed their own understanding of Pilates with other disciplines. A variety of “modern” schools of Pilates, heavily influenced by a physiotherapeutic approach to Pilates, have adapted the Pilates system in different ways for reasons unknown to and unapproved by its creator, Joseph Pilates, and by the contemporary schools of Authentic Pilates who continue teaching his method. Joseph Pilates died as sole master of his own method and still controlling the intellectual property of it, including his apparatus: a fact that only changed with the Lawsuit of October 2000. *
Method and apparatusThe Pilates method seeks to develop controlled movement from a strong core and it does this using a range of apparatus to guide and train the body. Joe Pilates originally developed his method as mat exercises (his 1945 Return to Life teaches 34 of these), but, in common with many other physical culture systems from the first part of the twentieth century, he used several pieces of apparatus to help people "get the method in their bodies". Each piece of apparatus has its own repertoire of exercises and most of the exercises done on the various pieces of Pilates apparatus are Resistance Training|resistance training since they make use of springs to provide additional resistance. The most widely used piece of apparatus, and probably the most important, is the Reformer, but other apparatus used in a traditional Pilates studio include the Cadillac (also called the Trapeze Table), the high (or electric) chair, the Wunda Chair, the baby Chair, and the Ladder Barrel, the Spine Corrector (Step Barrel) and small barrel. Lesser used apparati include the Magic Circle, Guillotine Tower, the Pedi-Pole, and the Foot Corrector.
Currently the Pilates method is divided into two camps—classical/authentic Pilates and modern Pilates. Classical/Authentic Pilates teaches consistency in respecting the principles of the method developed by Joseph Pilates. Teachers of Authentic Pilates seek to stay close to Joseph Pilates's original work and support the use of equipment that is built to his specifications. Classically trained teachers will have studied an important part of the Pilates system of exercises and some of the teachers will continue training towards mastering the whole system over many years. They can generally trace their training back to Joseph Pilates through one of his students. In modern Pilates, which is the most widely marketed today particularly as an extension of the physiotherapy and fitness industries, many changes have been made to the original exercises, the equipment, and philosophy.
In many schools of modern Pilates other props are used, including small-weighted balls, foam rollers, large exercise balls, rotating disks, and resistance bands. Some of the traditional apparatus have been altered for use in modern Pilates.
PrinciplesPhilip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two students of Romana Kryzanowska, published the first modern book on Pilates, The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning, in 1980 and in it they outlined six "principles of Pilates".* These have been widely adopted—and adapted—by the wider community. The original six principles were concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing.
ConcentrationPilates demands intense focus: "You have to concentrate on what youre doing all the time. And you must concentrate on your entire body for smooth movements."* This is not easy, but in Pilates the way that exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.* In 2006 at the Parkinson Center of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, the concentration factor of the Pilates method was being studied in providing relief from the degenerative symptoms of Parkinson's disease.*
Control"Contrology" was Joseph Pilates' preferred name for his method and it is based on the idea of muscle control. "Nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment."* All exercises are done with control with the muscles working to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs and thereby control the movement of the body and the apparatus. "The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy."*
CenteringFor practitioners to control their bodies, they must have a starting place: the center. The center is the focal point of the Pilates Method.* Many Pilates teachers refer to the group of muscles in the center of the body—encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs—as the "powerhouse". All movement in Pilates should begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs.
Flow or efficiency of movementPilates aims for elegant sufficiency of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In other words, the Pilates technique asserts that physical energy exerted from the center should coordinate movements of the extremities: Pilates is flowing movement outward from a strong core.*
PrecisionPrecision is essential to correct Pilates: "concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value".* The focus is on doing one precise and perfect movement, rather than many halfhearted ones. Pilates is here reflecting common physical culture wisdom: "You will gain more strength from a few energetic, concentrated efforts than from a thousand listless, sluggish movements".* The goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.*
BreathingBreathing is important in the Pilates method. In Return to Life, Pilates devotes a section of his introduction specifically to breathing "bodily house-cleaning with Circulatory system|blood circulation".* He saw considerable value in increasing the intake of oxygen and the circulation of this oxygenated blood to every part of the body. This he saw as cleansing and invigorating. Proper full inhalation and complete exhalation were key to this. "Pilates saw forced exhalation as the key to full inhalation."* He advised people to squeeze out the lungs as they would wring a wet towel dry.* In Pilates exercises, the practitioner breathes out with the effort and in on the return.* In order to keep the lower abdominals close to the spine; the breathing needs to be directed laterally, into the lower Human rib cage|rib cage. Pilates breathing is described as a posterior lateral breathing, meaning that the practitioner is instructed to breathe deep into the back and sides of his or her rib cage. When practitioners exhale, they are instructed to note the engagement of their deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and maintain this engagement as they inhale. Pilates attempts to properly coordinate this breathing practice with movement, including breathing instructions with every exercise. “Above all, learn to breathe correctly.”*
PowerhouseStudents are taught to use their “powerhouse” throughout life's daily activities. According to Joseph Pilates, the powerhouse is the centre of the body and if strengthened, it offers a solid foundation for any movement. This power engine is a muscular network which provides control over the body and comprises all the front, lateral and back muscles found between the upper inner thighs and arm pits.
The Powerhouse is activated effectively by hollowing of the deep abdominals, by drawing the navel back into the spine in a zipping-up motion, from the pubic bone to the breast bone thereby engaging the heels, the back of the inner thighs, the deep, lower-back muscles, and the muscles surrounding the sitting bones and tailbone area without inhibiting the natural function of the diaphragm—that is without the practitioner holding their breath either from lifting the chest upwards or contracting the chest.
In the sitting position the power engine elevates the torso and places the center of gravity at its highest and most efficient position; in prone position it elongates the body bidirectionally to reduce weight in the upper body; in supine position it elongates the body bidirectionally and places the center of gravity again at its highest and most efficient position.