Photograph by Jess Lehnhoff

Photograph by Jess Lehnhoff

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s originally as a rehabilitative practice. Pilates (originally called Contrology) encompasses exercises performed on a mat and on several forms of apparatus that change the pull of gravity on the body. Pilates targets the deep muscles of the torso and spine (your 'powerhouse' or 'core') to strengthen the body from the inside out in proper alignment. The goals are to achieve a balance of strength and flexibility by creating a symbiotic relationship of opposing muscle groups, a harmonious collaboration between stability and mobility, and better overall functioning of the body in everyday life. The six guiding principles of the Pilates method are: Breathing, Centering, Concentration, Control, Flow and Precision.

In short, Pilates is a dynamic system of exercise that integrates, refines and enhances our body, mind and spirit.

Who was Joseph Pilates?

Born in Germany in 1880, Joseph Hubertus Pilates had a lifelong interest in body conditioning. As a frail child dedicated to becoming stronger, he later grew to become an accomplished skier, diver, gymnast, boxer, and martial artist. Components of these disciplines can be seen in the different Pilates exercises. While interned in England during World War I for his German citizenship, Joseph became a nurse. During this time, he designed exercises for immobilized patients and created some of the early specialized exercise machines or 'apparatus' by attaching springs to hospital beds. This system formed the foundation for his style of body conditioning originally called 'Contrology' and now known as Pilates. Joseph Pilates brought his system to the US in 1926 and opened the first Pilates Studio in New York City (8th Avenue). The Pilates Method is presently practiced worldwide by individuals at all levels of fitness as well as by dancers, athletes and sports teams, celebrities and fitness enthusiasts in dedicated Pilates studios, health clubs, gyms and at home.

Why practice Pilates?

Pilates can help with:
Improvement in posture, strength, muscle tone and elasticity
Increased body awareness, balance, and control
Improvement in stability, mobility, and flexibility
Relief from back pain and sciatica (including bulging/herniated discs)
Improvement in ability to concentrate and focus
Increased lung capacity and system functionality
Integration of mind and body in everyday life
Prevention and/or rehabilitation of injuries and joint pathologies
Spine Care
Stress relief, more energy, and a better night's sleep
Better sex
Prevention of worsening osteoporosis
Strengthening of pelvic floor/greater control over incontinence
Prenatal wellness, preparation for delivery
Postnatal recovery
Improvement in sports performance
Overall improvement in your well-being!

In Joe’s own words

'With the body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person? Moreover, a body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living'. - Joseph Pilates

'If your spine is inflexible and stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.' -Joseph Pilates

'In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.' -Joseph Pilates

'Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Our very lives depend on it. Since we cannot live without breathing it is tragically deplorable to contemplate the millions and millions who have never learned to master the art of breathing. -Joseph Pilates