Pilates is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor, but also as an important adjunct to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds.
Widely embraced by the professional dance community during much of the 20th century, exercises like “elephant,” and “swan”, the terms like “pull navel to spine, and breathe,” and the look: bright-eyed, refreshed, buoyant-without-necessarily-sweating, are now commonly found in fitness classes, physical therapy offices, corporate retreats, luxury spas and wellness centers. With the aging of our population and the increasing trend toward mindful, moderate health practices, Pilates is increasingly found with a wait list at the YMCA, and in local public schools–shaping the fitness ideals of our next generation.
Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing is a primary focus. Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination – both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program. Posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time. Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one’s life.