Who would ever believe that the person who invented the system of Pilates was once a frail and weak man? Through the study of anatomy, and in an attempt to over come his sickly childhood afflictions of asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, Joseph H. Pilates created his system in the 1920’s for cardiovascular conditioning, lengthening, strengthening, and more importantly to help those with ailments who were left unable to support their own body weight. Pilates you see is all about muscle control.
Joseph Pilates believed that a strong core was ultimately the beginning and end of perfect physical fitness. Once the core is strong, the rest of the body has the support it needs to develop fully, without placing strain on other areas. Pilates will leave you feeling strong, yet graceful and fluid.
Joseph Pilates initially built his system based upon Resistance, with equipment made from bed springs. The first exercises he invented were devised to incorporate not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Focused on developing a strong core, referred to in Pilates as “the powerhouse,” Pilates method of resistance training ensures every other body part is working at maximum capacity by creating greater mobility and flexibility.
One of the admirable concepts of Pilates training is that one doesn’t have to workout hours on in to develop a fit and toned body. For certain when you look better you feel better, hence the Pilate’s theory of engaging the mind as muscle in the training of the body. The Pilates system is about control, and execution of movement which requires concentration. The mind must be engaged in the movement for it to be effective. In every movement you make in Pilates, your powerhouse is engaged, which is why most people who practice this system have a well developed core.
With the actual movement of Pilates, one makes very succinct, controlled movements, something Joseph Pilates referred to as “Contrology.” Throughout any given Pilates exercise one is constantly applying resistance and opposition, stability and mobility, articulation, and balance as well as leverage. In essence for Pilates to be effective one must practice the principles of concentration, intuition, control, breathing, center, fluidity, and precision. Of all of the elements of Pilates, the resistance and opposition concept is responsible for achieving maximum strength, length and stretch. Several of the Pilates exercises that demonstrate this concept are: Roll Up, Double Leg Stretch. Articulation is where everything comes together. Certain parts of the body connecting with others to make movement possible. Breathing is a major part of Pilates, and proper breathing demonstrates the leverage concept. Several of the Pilates exercises which pull the body in opposite directions are demonstrations of leverage as well. With the Balance concept, one will understand why a strong core is needed. When the core is strong, force is placed on the part of the body that is supposed to support us. We don’t wear out our hips, and knees when we use our powerhouse to balance our bodies. One of the quickest ways to misalign a hip is the constant posture of putting ones’ weight on one side.
Try a 20 minute a day Pilates routine, along with focus and concentration, and allow the powerhouse to do the work for you, and have a stronger injury free body. Joseph H. Pilates, the inventor of this exercise system took on the challenge of a life time in changing his body, and he was a sick weakly child. If he could do it so can we. In addition to anatomy, Pilates also studied, Yoga and Zen, and maintained a good diet. In the quest for good health, try to have a well rounded program of diet, exercise, and good mental health.