Get to Know Joseph Pilates and His Exercise Method

Joseph Pilates, the developer of the fitness regimen known as “Pilates”, was born in Germany in the year 1880. Joseph did not really have a healthy body when he was a child. Diseases such as asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever were just among the many ailments he had to overcome during his childhood years. To conquer these illnesses, he practiced all sorts of exercises such as diving, gymnastics, skiing, and body building, among others. Moreover, his health condition inspired him to come up with a form of exercise program that was to become and remain successful until today.

At about the time of the First World War, Joseph Pilates devised a fitness regimen which made use of what he called the “Contrology Method”. This exercise program requires the use of the mind to get the muscles working properly. Joseph had this fitness regimen named after him and called it the Pilates Method, or simply Pilates. After he developed the exercise program, Joseph Pilates published two books discussing what the technique is all about and how to perform it.

The Pilates exercise system is basically aimed at improving three things, namely flexibility, strength, and body awareness. This fitness regimen is comprised of a series of controlled movements which are carried out on spring-resistant exercise equipment such as the Cadillac, the Reformer, the Spine Corrector, the Ladder Barrel, and the Wunda Chair. It may also be performed on the floor (mat work). Here, the workout sessions are done with the supervision of specially trained instructors.

The Pilates program is a resistance exercise and not an aerobic (cardio) one, although the heart beat will certainly go up for a deconditioned individual. Since it is closer to weight lifting than it is to other types of exercise such as jogging, biking, or other aerobic workouts, it is considered a resistance exercise.

Core muscle strength and spinal alignment are two of the most important elements of Pilates. Core musculature simply refers to the spine, abdomen, hips, and the muscles that support these structures. Erector spinae (found along the spine), internal and external obliques (the sides of the abdomen), transverse abdominis (situated deep in the gut), rectus abdominis (also known as the abdominal muscles or “six-pack”), and hip flexors (located in the pelvis and upper leg) are just some of the main core muscles that Joseph Pilates focused on.

For Joseph Pilates, a person’s psychological wellness is complementary to his physical health. His method is primarily focused on things such as precision, focused breathing, correct spinal alignment, as well as controlled movements. These principles all work towards improving a person’s awareness towards his body. Joseph Pilates’ regimen is targeted at producing stronger, more toned, and more flexible muscles. And lastly, it is aimed at improving a person’s overall concentration and mental health.

Joseph Pilates came up with more than 600 exercises on the various apparatus that he invented. These machines, in fact, are still very much in use today, but with little changes. As mentioned earlier, the pieces of equipment he invented make use of springs and pulleys to create resistance while maintaining and encouraging a stable and aligned body.

In a Nutshell:

The Pilates Method is not just any traditional exercise. Joseph Pilates developed it in such a way that an individual will experience a total mind and body experience. Joseph believed that the mind has the power to control the muscles and direct the body through controlled movements and functions. Clearly, this is what the Pilates Method want to achieve – to engage the mind and body through precise body movements without necessarily bulking up.

Get Invigorated with Pilates Workout

It is common for people to avoid getting into aerobics or other workout systems because these are really tiring. Not Pilates! The philosophy of Pilates workout is to invigorate your body rather than make it tired. This is one thing that Joseph Pilates, its founder, ensured. As one gets deeply into Pilates, one realizes how important the philosophy and the principles are as one takes pleasure in its benefits – renewed vigor, improved flexibility, muscle strength, and refreshed mind.

Today, after so many decades after Joseph Pilates introduced his greatest accomplishment consisting of 34 Contrology exercises, it got more widespread. This is brought about by the realization that Pilates workout as it now called is founded on sound science long before they were discovered. Joseph Pilates was truly a man ahead of his time. He has always known that building muscles and flexibility cannot be attained simultaneously using similar routines. Today, it is clearer to fitness buffs that cardio exercises need to be separately performed from other workout that intend to build and tone muscles.

The Pilates Appeal

These days, Pilates is well sought as an exercise system in fitness centers and gyms around the world.  One reason why it is widely sought is the way it can be adjusted depending on the fitness level and need of the client.

• It is an ideal workout for dancers who need a lot of exercises designed to stretch and lengthen muscles as well as foster balance, coordination and agility.

• It is also a good exercise system for athletes who need to develop their muscles and promote endurance, agility, balance and coordination.

• Similarly, women who want to lose weight and build muscles without the bulk can best achieve this goal with Pilates.

• By adjusting the level of difficulty, even teens, pregnant women and the elderly can enjoy Pilates.

• People who feel back pain or have gone through some debilitating disease or accident can also use Pilates as a rehabilitative therapy under the expert guidance of a physical therapist or orthopedic doctor who has trained in Pilates.

• Pilates is sought by many because it offers a number of health benefits such as improved cardiovascular system, boosted immune system, bolstered digestive system, and more efficient flushing of toxins.

• Pilates also leaves one revitalized rather than tired while fostering calmness, better stress management and increased body awareness.

The Six Principles of Pilates

For one to benefit from the Pilates workout, the movements need to be executed correctly. This entails familiarity and appreciation of the Pilates principles. There are six basic Pilates principles and these are: Centering, Concentration, Control, Flow, Breath, and Precision.

These principles define the distinct Pilates movements which focus on quality than quantity or repetitions. This means that each movement or Contrology exercise must be executed with the precision and correctness to attain the desired results. These principles did not come from Joseph Pilates; rather these were drawn from his work by his disciples after years of having it as part of their lifestyles. In a way, these principles have caused some diverging styles in executing Pilates inasmuch as there is specific numbering or order of the principles; the instructor choreographs the routine based on one’s beliefs and knowledge.

Joseph Pilates called his original exercise system as Contrology to refer to the exercises of the body/mind/spirit approach founded on the six principles. The six principles need to be the heart of the Pilates workout regardless of the equipment used such as the mat, reformer or Cadillac.

Pilates is a good workout as it fosters a host of health benefits that can be adjusted and can work for every person even those recuperating from injuries. It trains the thoughts to focus, beats stress and boost the body to be healthy and flexible.  Joseph Pilates lived to be a vibrant 87. Would you want to find out what it can do to you?

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