PILATES has become a common place term synonymous with fitness and core strength, but what really is Pilates?? Advanz Therapies explores the history of Pilates and how it has evolved.  We try and answer if and why it is a good source of exercise for you.

Pilates originated in the  USA with german born Joseph Pilates, Son of a prize winning gymnast (father) and naturapath (Mother). His exercise design was based around “flexibility, strength, control and endurance of the whole body”. He termed the program “contrology” (basically meaning “logical control”). His focus was on controlled movements that should loo and feel like a work out (not therapy). Still the primary focus was based around correct body alignment, breathing, co-ordinated movement, balance , concentration and developing a strong “powerhouse”. It was said to revolve around 6 main Principles:

  1.  Concentration
  2. Control
  3. Centering – Core  body (“powerhouse”) focus
  4. Flow or efficiency of movement
  5. Precision
  6. Breathing

The development of this technique resulted in a range of exercises using a variety of ‘Apparatus'(which may involve sliding beds/reformers, ropes, pulleys, weights, balls or just body weight) which allowed huge exercise variety and opportunity for progression which could specifically aid in patient rehabilitation from injury or optimal physical development. As of 2005 it is said that 11million people were practicing Pilates in the USA alone.

“The Powerhouse” as Joseph described as the area between arm pits and upper thighs was the focus of his technique. The idea being that the more strength and control developed in this area allowed for stronger and more co-ordinated movement of the whole body. More modern view points and terminology of this have evolved to us discussing “core”strength. This is generally described as the control of muscles of the torso from Diaphram to pelvic floor and muscles that encompass around this area (front, back and sides). Pilates exercises are focused on the control and strengthening of this area primarily with advancement of exercises only allowed once simpler exercises are mastered.

Contemporary Pilates is now generally classified into Modern Pilates or classical/traditional Pilates.

– Modern Pilates includes derived versions stemming from students of Traditional pilates. These teachers have used other skills and backgrounds to form branching theories and exercise forms. Clinical Pilates and Polstar Pilates would be categorised into Modern Pilates for example.

– Traditional/classical Pilates is still taught in the way that Joseph Pilates designed it way back then.

Generally speaking, Pilates is a very effective exercise regime which helps to rehabilitate from injury, improve body Physique, strength, athletic performance and prevent from multiple affects of ageing bodies (e.g. osteoporosis and arthritis). It is being used by most professional athletes now and nearly all sport rehabilitation clinics are incorporating Pilates in their treatments.

So what do you choose when it comes to a Pilates class?

Experienced and specific instruction is most important when it comes to selecting a Pilates class or session. There are multiple types as discussed, but as long as your instructor has a good awareness of your body, condition and specific requirements they should be able to adapt the class/individual program to suit your needs.

Advanz Therapies has 6 Pilates instructors, 5 of which are Physiotherapists and specialise in injury rehabilitation, 2 of which are athletic development specialists. We offer both modern adaptations close to classical method Pilates and Clinical Pilates which you can read more about on our website. We offer both mat classes, which are with minimal equipment and are a very good way to learn Pilates techniques and Apparatus classes which offer more training options.

For more questions on this contact the clinic for a chat or drop in to watch or join a class!