Pilates is a whole body exercise system, developed by founder Joseph Pilates during, and in the years following the first World War. Pilates exercises were designed for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers but there may be huge benefits for sportsmen and women for improved performance and reduced injury risk.
Pilates exercises are excellent for preventing and treating back pain and combines a number of specialist core strengthening exercises.
Each exercise is demonstrated by TV fitness expert Wayne Gordon (SKY TV Gladiator Doom) where he explains how to perform the exercise correctly.
We recommend learning Pilates under the instruction of a fully qualified pilates instructor as technique is particularly important.
Beginners Pilates Exercises
Our beginners pilates exercises are the most basic pilates exercises. We start off simply by explaining how to obtain the neutral position of the spine which is essential for correctly performing pilates exercises.
The intermediate pilates exercises progress on from the beginners exercises and require slightly more strength and co-ordination. It is essential though that correct technique and the basics of the neutral position and breathing are maintained.
Advanced Pilates Exercises
These are the most advanced pilates exercises we demonstrate. They require some experience of the more basic exercises as well as a higher level of strength and co-ordination.
Again it is essential the exercises are performed correctly in a slow and controlled manner.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a whole body exercise system, developed by founder Joseph Pilates during, and in the years following the first World War.
Before the war German-born Pilates was working as a boxer and circus entertainer in England. When war broke out in 1914 he was held in an internment camp in Lancaster, along with other 'enemy' German nationals. It was during this time that he began to develop the series of original exercises he called 'contrology', which we now know as Pilates or the Pilates Method.
The focus of Pilates is on developing core strength (deep abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles) and improving posture through a series of low impact and low repetition stretching and conditioning exercises. Pilates is based upon an understanding of human anatomy and and is designed to elongate, strengthen and restore the body. Pilates strengthens the muscles and gives a more sleek, toned appearance without adding muscle bulk. There is also a strong 'mind over matter' belief: "It is the mind itself that shapes the body" Joseph Pilates
Pilates can be either floor-based mat work exercises or can use a wide range of apparatus, specifically designed for Pilates. Most people start with mat work and may progress to apparatus once they are confident with the skills of mat work Pilates. Apparatus classes tend to be in smaller groups than mat work classes and may even be on a 1:1 basis. Equipment includes items such as the reformer, cadillac and wunder chair.
Who can benefit from Pilates?
Pilates is a slow, flowing series of exercises which are safe and effective at all levels of fitness. Doctors, Physiotherapists and other health professionals regularly prescribe Pilates to patients for the following reasons:
- Injury rehabilitation
- Relief of stress and tension
- Maintenance and improvement in bone density (to prevent osteoporosis)
- Ease arthritis pain
- Ease back pain
- Improvement in posture
- Improvement in flexibility
- Improvement in balance and coordination
- Improvement of lung function and circulation
- Excellent ante and post natal exercise
What are the principles of Pilates?
There are six (some sources state 8) core principles of pilates. These are:
- Centering - Bringing the focus of all exercises to the centre or core of the body
- Concentration - Maximum benefit will be achieved if full concentration and commitment is placed on each exercise.
- Control - Each exercise is done with complete muscular control
- Precision - Awareness of each body part's positioning and movement is maintained throughout all exercises
- Breath - Pilates exercises integrate breathing patterns and centre on using a full breath Flow - Pilates exercises should be performed in a flowing manner with grace and ease.