Pilates 101

Pilates is a mind-body exercise that requires core stability, strength, flexibility, attention to muscle control, posture, and breathing.

Pilates is a mind-body exercise that requires core stability, strength, flexibility, attention to muscle control, posture, and breathing.
Pilates is an exercise program developed by Joseph Pilates during the early 20th century, and originally used to train and rehabilitate fellow detainees during World War I. Since then, it has been continually developed, expanded, and used to train millions of clients with all different levels of fitness. Pilates works by focusing on core muscles, stabilizer muscles, and a process called dynamic stability. This focus allows Pilates to offer unique benefits unrivaled by any traditional exercise program.
Joseph Pilates first developed his techniques in the form of mat work, meaning simple exercises that can be done on the floor with only a few simple props or with nothing at all. Once he had developed these techniques, he moved on to develop several resistance based exercise machines to add to the benefits of Pilates. While imprisoned during WWI, Joseph Pilates dismantled hospital beds and used their springs to construct rudimentary resistance equipment that could be used by those unable to leave their beds due to illness or injury. Though they have been adapted and improved with modern science, many of Joseph Pilates machines are still used today.

Dynamic stability means focusing on the movement of a particular muscle or group of muscles while keeping the rest of the body still and stable. Doing so provides the unique benefits of Pilates, for clients of all fitness levels. The use of dynamic stability allows clients to strengthen muscles that traditional exercise programs ignore. These muscles increase stability, control, and range of movement, as well as decreasing strain on primary muscle groups.

Each session will be tailored to the particular goals and needs of the client, so each session will look different, but you can click the links below to see examples of the different kinds of exercises commonly used for different levels of Pilates.

Every client is unique, so it is impossible to guarantee specific results, but some of the demonstrated benefits of Pilates are:

  • Increased core strength, which facilitates movement throughout the body
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Strengthening of stabilizer muscles that help to prevent injury
  • Decreased joint stress during daily movement
  • Increase in lean muscle tone without increased bulk
  • Improved performance in athletic activities such as golf, horse back riding, dance, tennis, etc.

On the contrary, Pilates has been shown to be highly effective for both men and women. Joseph Pilates (obviously male himself) designed his exercises to be highly effective for anyone, and during his lifetime, he trained many elite male athletes. Today, Pilates has been used by professional athletes, both male and female. Some notable athletes who have made Pilates part of their exercise regimen include David Duval, Jason Kidd, and LeBron James; on top of that, several teams from the NFL, NBA, and MLB have made Pilates part of their teams mandatory training. All of this because of the marked improvements in performance that Pilates offers to these already highly trained men.

As with any exercise program, you should always consult your physician before beginning, but Pilates is often very effective for individuals with special concerns. Pilates exercises can be selected and adapted to target or protect certain parts of the body. Pilates can help strengthen muscles around injured body parts or those affected by other chronic conditions. This may help reduce chronic pain and improve mobility for many clients.