Pilates is the discipline developed by Joseph Pilates, born in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. He was a sickly child affected by chronic illness such as asthma and rheumatic fever, and illness is what set him to dedicate his entire life to improving his physical health. Pilates immersed himself in an in-depth study of body building, yoga, martial arts, and gymnastics and developed an integrated and comprehensive system of physical exercise that is still taught today. Most teachers use variations of the original Pilates sequence of thirty-four mat exercises in order to ensure variety and make the practice available to all students.
Core strength is the foundation of Pilates practice and what sets it apart from many forms of exercise that focus on strengthening the superficial muscles. The core muscles are the deep, internal muscles of the abdomen and back, and their primary role is to stabilise the pelvis and lower back. When the core muscles are strong and well-balanced, as they are trained to do in Pilates, they work together with the more superficial muscles of the trunk to support movement. This explains why Pilates is so effective at helping people overcome back pain. A stable trunk relieves pressure on the back and the body is able to move freely and efficiently.
I teach a mixture of original mat Pilates exercises and variations, with or without props and small equipment, and use a range of modifications to make the workout safe and challenging for students at any level. In my teaching I emphasise the importance of quality over quantity and of breathing correctly in order to obtain the fullest benefits from the exercise. Focused, controlled breathing helps maintain proper alignment and allows to contract the muscles that need to be engaged while at the same time release those that don’t need to be used. In order to achieve the powerful mind-body connection that the Pilates practice promotes, six principles are required: centering, concentration, control, correct breathing, flow, and precision.