What is Pilates?

If you are interested in physical fitness, you have undoubtedly heard the word “Pilates” used frequently, so today let’s look into what Pilates is and why it is becoming so popular.

Pilates has been endorsed by celebrities, including Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone, and many others, who swear that Pilates has done them wonders. Pilates is not only for women. David Beckham claims “An hour of Pilates per day and I feel better than I have in a long time”.

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was a sickly child, and he dedicated his life to improving his health and the health of others. He moved to England in 1912, but, as a German citizen, he was forced to live in internment camps during World War I. Rather than wither away there, he started working with what limited equipment was available to him in the camps, including springs attached to hospital beds.

After attaining some fame in England, after the War he moved to New York City where he opened the first “Pilates” studio in the same location as the New York City Ballet. His work with famous dancers including Martha Graham and George Balanchine only heightened his fame, and soon his methods spread across the US and now Pilates is an international sensation.

The main focus of his method is to strengthen the muscles around the “core” of the body—the abdomen and the spine. You might think of the body as a tree, and note that the tree is only as strong as it’s trunk. Without that, it would fall in the wind, and you might consider your spine as the “trunk” of your body.

Pilates believed that most people develop bad habits in walking and sitting, and that bad posture can lead to various aches and pains, and to muscles that are out-of-balance, some strong, others too weak. These imbalances make us more susceptible to injuries, which often lead to even further muscle imbalances.

Pilates exercises focus on proper breathing during exercises, while obtaining better flexibility, posture, and body awareness. The Pilates student is taught not only how to perform exercises during the training sessions, but also to be conscious of body positions and movements throughout the day.

Due to spinal curvatures and compression of spinal discs, most of us lose height as we get older and Pilates can help reverse this situation (singer Belinda Carlisle claims that after eight years of Pilates practice she has gained 5 cm in height).

Many people who start Pilates love it and never want to stop, but you don’t have to practice Pilates for years to get results. Joseph Pilates claimed that in only 10 sessions “you feel the difference. In 20 sessions you see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body”.

In our next post, part II of Pilates, we will talk about how you can get results and discuss some common myths about the practice.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)