The Pilates exercise program is one of the best known and popular exercise programs in the United States today, enjoying a huge following of people in a range of ages. The Pilates method was developed in the 1920’s by a man named Joseph Pilates.
His exercise method was originally used to physically rehabilitate prisoners of war, with startling success. Further studies showed that his methods benefited anyone desirous of attaining a fit body. Athletes and dancers, more prone to injuries of the body, find these exercises enable them to stay fit without stressing injured knees or arthritic conditions.
Only a few short years ago, the Pilates exercise program was practiced by a select few of continuing generations of Pilates devotees. When ergonomics met science in the forum of exercise programs, there was an explosion in the popularity of the program. Post-pregnancy Moms, seniors, athletes, dancers, ordinary fitness seekers and physical therapy patients find the Pilates exercise program to be highly adaptable to their individual needs.
What distinguishes the Pilates exercise program is its emphasis on an integrated balance of “core strength”, flexibility, suppleness of muscle tissue, and a mental awareness of body movement. People participating in a Pilates exercise program typically gain a highly toned body, fluid in movement, yet strong, with a leaner appearance.
If you join a Pilates exercise program, you’ll be taught the six principles of Pilates’ methodology. These six principles are centering, control, flow, precision, concentration and breathing. Pilates exercise programs echo similar disciplines, such as yoga and tai-chi in slow controlled movements, yielding big results. Unlike the old gym class exercise programs requiring strenuous workouts and exhausting repetitions, the Pilates exercise program relies on quality of movement rather than repetition. Surprisingly, less expenditure of effort on the participants’ part often results in fantastic results in a much shorter time frame.
The centerpiece of any Pilates program is that of core strength. Core strength development focuses on the abdomen. Interestingly, there is a correlation between the Pilates concept and that of the chakras of yoga and meditative disciplines. If the core strength of your body is solid, the rest follows. Core strength, as defined by Pilates, enables your body to relieve tension, resulting in free, strong and graceful motions with little expenditure of effort.
Development of the signature core strength of a Pilates exercise program eventually results in a stabilization of your torso, considered to be key to free mobility without pain or effort, followed by mastery of the entire body, toned and fit.
The Pilates exercise program may be contrasted to weight lifting programs, where arms, legs and abdomens are “buffed up” while neglecting the remainder of body and spirit.
While running or swimming provide a whole body workout, they do not address the centered and emotional focus of a Pilates exercise program. If you’re looking to get fit, you owe it to yourself to look into Pilates programs.