Pilates – a whole-body exercise system, known as Contrology – engages the mind, body and spirit. The Pilates system consists of both mat work and apparatus work, and it was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It focuses on the development of a strong and efficient working body and mind.

In his early years, Joseph Pilates was not a healthy child, and so he turned to exercise and athletics to improve his quality of life. Alongside years of self-study, he became free of his ailments and transformed into an avid skier, diver, gymnast, and boxer. As a young adult, Joseph moved to England where he developed a series of mat exercises.

As a German national residing in England during the time of WWI, he was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. During this period, he used other internees as subjects to further develop his unique system of exercises that we know today as Pilates. Because many of the internees were injured from the war, Joseph began to attach springs to the hospital beds to create a means for those injured to begin moving. By allowing the body to move again, even though many of these individuals were bedridden, the body can begin to heal. This led to the development of the apparatus’ we use today. Before the end of the war there was an influenza epidemic that struck killing thousands of people. However, none of those whom Joe worked with died. This, he claimed, was a testament to the effectiveness of his Pilates system.

The mat work is the original series of exercises created by Joseph and is the most challenging, as it requires complete control of the body. It aims to restore flexibility of the spine while strengthening the deep stabilizing muscles of the shoulder and pelvic girdle. Later, Joseph developed the apparatus’, many of which work with resistance springs. The exercises done on the variety of apparatus’ further challenge the body in different positions while helping it to stay in the correct form and alignment, further improving strength and endurance.

The series of exercises know as the Pilates method is founded upon six main principles: Breathing, Centering (mind and the body), Concentration, Control, Flow and Precision. The Pilates system also builds muscle flexibility, strength, and endurance. The deep core region of the body is what we refer to in Pilates as “The Powerhouse”. This region includes the muscles of the stomach, the back, the inner thighs and the seat, and are the focus of every exercise in Pilates. This focus, along with spinal and pelvic alignment, offers many benefits to the client ultimately helping achieving a stronger core and improved postural awareness.

The Pilates system is an effective form of movement to rehabilitate from injuries or ailments and, more importantly can aid in injury prevention. What we love about Pilates is that it can offer something for everyone, regardless of current fitness level. As you progress, the exercises become progressively more challenging and demanding.

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