- Joseph H. Pilates
May 4 is Pilates Day, the perfect time to celebrate this popular exercise form designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. If you’re new to Pilates, here’s a guide to what it is, what the benefits are and why so many people are doing it.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise that involves a series of movements with names like The One Hundred, Criss-Cross, Scissor Kick, Elephant, and the Swan that are done in a specific order, either on a mat or on a piece of equipment called a Reformer.
The History of Pilates
According to the Pilates Method Alliance, Pilates was created in the 1920’s by Joseph H. Pilates. As a German national placed under forced internment while living in England during the outbreak of WWI, he created a series of original exercises done on the floor, known as “matwork,” which he taught to fellow camp members. The concepts and exercises he developed were based on more than 20 years of self-study and apprenticeship in yoga, Zen and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. In later years, he began devising equipment to create spring resistance to help rehabilitate injured internees who were struck with wartime disease and physical injury.
The Main Benefits of a Regular Pilates Practice
Michael Fritzke and Ton Voogt are internationally recognized Pilates presenters and certified Pilates Teacher Trainers who each have more than 25 years of experience in the fitness industry. Together, they co-founded ZENIRGY, a company created to promote health through innovative workouts, products and educational programs. They are also the creators of the TRIADBALL, a product that’s ideal to help build core strength during Pilates practice.
Fritzke and Voogt describe Pilates as a “very complete and versatile form of exercise that can be used in conjunction with physical therapy or a stand-alone full-body workout, or as general conditioning and alignment for professional athletes and performers.” Because it’s a form of general exercise and conditioning it allows you to “mold it” to be exactly what you want it to be. They list the top benefits of Pilates as:
· Increased strength
· Increased mobility and flexibility
· Improved posture
· Improved body awareness and control
Common Misconceptions About Pilates
Read below to find out how Fritzke and Voogt debunk common misconceptions about Pilates.
Myth: Pilates is like yoga on equipment
Fact: Pilates and Yoga are two different modalities that complement each other but are not the same.
Myth: Pilates is for women only
Fact: Pilates was created by a man, for men who were in the military. It provides a great workout for both men and women.
Myth: Pilates is a form of physical therapy
Fact: Although it can be modified to help people with any physical injury or limitation, it isn’t physical therapy.
Myth: Pilates is for dancers only
Fact: Although the movement form can be extremely helpful for dancers, it’s for everyone from professional athletes (including NFL and MLB players), to people with severe limitations – and everyone in between.
How to Get Started
Although private or semi-private Pilates lessons are more expensive, Fritzke and Voogt say that it will pay off and they encourage anyone looking to get started to find a local Pilates studio in their area. If you’re not ready for private lessons just yet, check out Pilates books and equipment that can help you get started on your own, or visit Pilates Method Alliance to learn more.