Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany.
Joseph Pilates called his method Contrology, because in his method the mind is used to control the muscles. The program focuses on the core postural muscles which will keep the body balanced, will strengthen the deep torso muscles and teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine.
The principles of Pilates are:
- Breathing: Full and thorough inhalation and exhalation are purportedly a part of every Pilates exercise. Proper and effective breathing, practitioners assert, not only oxygenates the muscles, but also reduces tension in the upper neck and shoulders.
- Centering: Pilates called the very large group of muscles in the center of the body encompassing the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks – the “powerhouse.” All energy for Pilates exercises is said to begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs.
- Concentration: Pilates demands intense focus. Beginners are instructed to pay careful attention to their bodies, building on very small, delicate fundamental movements and controlled breathing.
- Control: Joseph Pilates built his method on the idea of muscle control. To him, that meant no sloppy, uncontrolled movements.
- Precision: Practitioners assert that every movement in the Pilates method has a purpose. Every instruction is considered vitally important to the success of the whole.
- Flow or efficiency of movement: Movement is expected to be kept continuous between exercises through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina.