“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase” – Joseph Pilates
Health benefits of Pilates include:
- improved flexibility
- increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (the ‘core muscles’ of your body)
- balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body
- enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs
- improved stabilisation of your spine
- improved posture
- rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances
- improved physical coordination and balance
- relaxation of your shoulders, neck and upper back
- safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries
- prevention of musculoskeletal injuries
- increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
- improved concentration
- increased body awareness
- stress management and relaxation.
The Pilates method of exercise was created by Joseph Pilates, who was born in 1880 near Dusseldorf, Germany. As a child, Joseph was frail, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He overcame his physical limitations with exercise and body building, becoming accomplished in many sports including skiing, diving and gymnastics.
It was while interned as an ‘enemy alien’ Joseph refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. By rigging springs to hospital beds, bedridden patients were able to exercise against resistance. These innovations led to his later equipment designs, most famous being the reformer.
In his book Return to Life Through Contrology, Joseph wrote, ‘Physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.’ In 1918 an influenza epidemic struck England, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Jospeh’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.
A strong body acts as a barrier to the external threats, providing a safe, enclosed space for our internal systems to operate within homeostasis. Joseph, like many others, believed that a strong body through exercise was vital to good health.
The beauty of Pilates is that you can compile a program for every occasion and any location as long as you follow the guidelines. Remember that consistency is the key.