Pilates, its origin, principles and effects

2022-04-14 0 Comments

Pilates has been around for a long time now. But in 2020 – 2021, it has experienced a significant growth thanks to its benefits and its accessibility. This so-called “gentle” gym can be done easily from home, through online Pilates programs or in class. Today, let’s discover why this method has become so popular over the years.

Definition: What is Pilates

Pilates can be defined as: a workout that combines exercises that strengthen the core muscles while improving the body’s balance.

But, it is also much more! A work on oneself, a strengthening of muscles often neglected, a controlled breathing, and even benefits for our mental health.

Joseph Pilates the creator of the method

So where does the method come from? What is its history?

The name “Pilates” comes from its creator Joseph Pilates.

What is interesting about the Pilates method is its history. Joseph Pilates had a father who was a medal-winning gymnast and a mother who was a naturopath, which quickly led to an interest in many physical activities.

As he grew up, he understood and saw the changes in the body through the practice of sports which led him to analyze the movements of the human body to establish his own philosophy.

It is interesting to know that yoga inspired the Pilates training on specific movements and stretches.

The evolution of the practice

The first attempts at Pilates classes were for sick prisoners in England during the First World War. The goal? To improve their conditions and health. Following this, he also helped soldiers injured during the war to accompany them during rehabilitation by adapting the movements.

The method takes a little amplitude when Joseph Pilates leaves for New-York and works the reputation of the sport with dancers then more widely in the artistic environment.

But surprisingly, it is after the death of the founder that it develops considerably. His students took over and shared the knowledge of Pilates throughout the United States and other English speaking countries.

If we take a step back, it is not that long that it has been really established in France.

It is interesting to see that today, in certain disciplines such as dance, Pilates is often used to develop movement coordination or precision and posture.

The 8 fundamental principles of Pilates

What are the principles of Pilates? In fact, there are 8 fundamentals (some say 6).

  1. Control of movement
  2. Breathing
  3. Centering
  4. Precision
  5. Balance
  6. Concentration
  7. Stability
  8. Fluidity

My method will teach you how to gain control of your body instead of being at its mercy.

Joseph Pilates

What are the different types of Pilates?

Over the years, Pilates has evolved and several trends have emerged that highlight the differences with the classical method. Here are a few well-known examples, but many other variations exist!

Classical Pilates

The so-called classical Pilates respects the “base” given by its founder while keeping the principles and objectives of the latter. It is very interesting when you are a beginner and want to start without equipment and at home.

Stott Pilates

This variant comes from a collaboration with physiotherapists, sports doctors and sports professionals. They have taken the basics and added modernity thanks to the new knowledge of the human body.

It is extremely close to the original version, but not yet widespread in France.

Yoga Pilates

Often, the question that arises is what to choose between these two practices? But they can be done simultaneously. Joseph Pilates was inspired by yoga for certain movements, he adds more flexibility, stretching and stretching. The benefits of these two practices can be very complementary.

Test one, then the other, and find out if you are more into Pilates vs. yoga or both at the same time!

Reformer Pilates

During the sessions, an iconic machine can be used: the Reformer.

It was invented to increase the difficulty of the exercises or to facilitate some of them. Bars, cables or springs can be used.

Pilates Class Schedule

When you are a beginner, I recommend to practice a little and to test before doing a class. For that, I have a few videos on youtube that you can do as well as a Pilates program to help you understand the basic information.

Between the different variations of Pilates, the multiple exercises and the mastery that takes a bit of time… In group classes, it can sometimes be demoralizing.

Look for classes with a small number of people or specialized classes for beginners in order to fully understand the aspects of the method.

Often, these gentle gymnastics sessions last between 40 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the location and the type of class. You will have either a mat or a mat + reformer. After a warm-up, and maybe some breathing exercises, you will start the heart of the workout with strengthening for example, to finish with some stretching.

The intensity of the session will depend on who is accompanying your group.

Again, feel free to try it online with me to take the first step. If many women are very interested in Pilates, this practice is mixed and should also motivate men!

The benefits of the method

As we have seen, this gentle gymnastics is well established in English-speaking countries and is gaining momentum in France, thanks to the Federation of Pilates Professionals.

I have already devoted a complete article to the benefits of Pilates but I will come back to it quickly.

Through its main principles, the method will work

  • your abdominal muscles,
  • your flexibility,
  • your posture,
  • your physique
  • can help you to soothe muscular pains.

The work of positioning acts on the spine and can slow down back pain and / or relieve those that are chronic. And yes, practicing sports also has a great effect on your joints and bones!

But it also plays a role on your mind. Indeed, it allows you to evacuate negative emotions as well as stress, which really helps you to feel good in your daily life.

The change in condition comes through movement and it is movement that heals.

Joseph Pilates

By working the deep muscles, you can also see an interesting improvement on your waistline.

I advise you to try it in order to discover a new sport practice, to get out of your comfort zone and to see the physical and psychological benefits that it can bring you.

What are the Pilates exercises?

Some movements and exercises are very well known and are often integrated into other sports programs without always specifying that they come from Pilates. In fact, many abdominal exercises come from this practice because they are very effective.

In my Pilates session, I show you some warm-ups and exercises.

Whether you are young, a parent or a senior citizen, Pilates is suitable for everyone because of the control. For the moment we are on the discovery, not the performance, so don’t worry if you find it complicated (or too simple). The important thing is to test and go at your own pace.

What are the accessories for Pilates?

Today, besides the mat for comfort and the famous reformer, you can find many accessories to do Pilates, whether in a group class or alone at home. If they are not mandatory, they can help later on to make your practice more complex.

Here are some examples:

  • Foam roller: often used for rehabilitation or stretching
  • Light dumbbells: to make certain exercises harder
  • Exercise band: a stretchy band to remove or add resistance in certain positions
  • A tennis ball : to work the feet or to relax certain muscles (like the back for example)

There are many others, but some are too “gadgety” and are sold under the effect of trend. A simple mat is enough to get started!

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