Since Joseph Pilates opened his first Studio in New York and later students of him (e.g. Romana Kryzanowska, Ron Fletcher (Los Angeles)) founded new Pilates studios, the training system of Joseph Pilates has moved a long way around the globe. It is not only in fitness centres, spas and at home a popular way to keep healthy, but it also has become a favourite method in Hollywood to train the bodies of many most wanted movie stars.
Since the 1980-ies, stars like Madonna, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Jones, John Travolta, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Tina Turner, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker and many more have helped to increase the popularity of this training system.
Today, there are different Pilates styles which have been developed from the original training system. Changes and developments have been made by Pilates students, as well as therapists and sport scientists, to adopt it for the daily use for athletes, childs and even pregnant women.
Let us have a look at the core idea of this training system, which, today, moves millions of bodies around the world.
The „Pilates Method“ is a systematic method to train the whole body, especially the pelvic floor, as wells as abdominal and back muscles. The training can be done on a mat as well as at special developed training machines.
First, Joseph Pilates (1883–1967) called his method „Contrology“, because the core idea was to control the movement of the muscles with the mind.
He was gymnast, body builder and circus artist and studied also eastern training methods such as yoga and zen-meditation. After the first world war he collaborated in Germany with some movement specialists, such as Rudolf von Laban.
In 1923 Pilates emigrated to United States / New York with his wife Clara and, upon the recommendation of Laban, opened his first training studio in the facility of the New York City Balley. In this time, Pilates training system has been influenced by dancing movements.
The training is a holistic approach and integrates strengthening, stretching and breathing exercises. It adresses especially smaller muscle groups and the intrinsic muscles, which support a correct and healthy human movement pattern. Additionally, he training aims at improving the body posture and perception as well as the activation of the heart circulation.
The intrinsic muscles in the body centre around the spine, the so called „Powerhouse“, are trained systematically together with the pelvic muscles and make up the basis of all movements. All movements are done in a controlled and fluent manner what helps protecting muscles and joints.
Joseph Pilates invented 5 classical machines to support students with the execution of exercises: Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrel and Spine Corrector. The training on the mat is recommended for advanced Pilates students. There are around 500 exercises for stretching and strengthening of muscles.
The most important principles of the Pilates training mehod are control, concentration, conscious breathing, centering, relaxation, flow of movement and coordination.
The controlled execution of all movements is a basis of the training system. Like this, smaller supporting muscles get involved and strengthened.
Training in a concentrated manner helps to develop harmony between body and mind. Each movement should be controlled mentally, and the attention should be focussed on the body.
The function of conscious breathing is a reduction of body tension. It increases concentration as well as control over the body and the movements. This is why diaphragm breathing is a part of the education.
Centering describes the strengthening of the body center, the „power house“.
Relaxation helps to decrease muscle tensions.
The system consists of fluent movements without longer breaks. There are no hard isolated exercsies, so that joints are treated gently and coordination is improved.
Pilates is a very effective training system to strengthen health and mind, and it has been proven to be good for toning purposes. For this reasons it has found a huge fan base around the world and today is one of the most popular training methods of all time. It is a healthy and sustainable toning method – not only, but also, for stars.
Find here a choice of basic exercises for legs, glutes, back and abs, which you can perform at the beachside, during jogging or even at home.
Do each exercise with 10 – 15 repetitions in a steady and controlled manner.
back rollup: do the movement in a concentrated manner. Feel each element of your spine moving and getting mobile. Feel each fibre of your back muscles!
back rollup 1
back rollup 1
side twist: keep your hip pointing forward and twist your upper body, in a controlled manner, sidewards, as far as possible. Feel your lower back getting mobilized!
side twist 1
side twist 2
side bend: bend your upper body sidewards without leaning forwards or backwards.
side bend 1
side bend 2
squat: keep your weight on your heels and your back straight. Look forward and support the movement with raising your arms above your head until they are inline with your back.
lunge: do a big step forward and bend your knees up to 90 °. Keep your back straight and look forward. Support the movement naturally with your arms.
handwalk: stand upright with straight legs and reach with your hands down to the floor. “Walk” with your hands as much forward as you can hold with your full body stability. Then move backwards as close to your feet as possible to additionally train your flexibility in areas of buttocks, hamstrings and lower back.
push ups: vary this classical exercise with a leg movement to integrate a stronger core involvement. keep an overall high body stability at all time.