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02. April 2019

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a whole body workout. The abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles are specifically trained. The aim is to train especially the deeper muscles. Pilates training includes strength exercises, conscious breathing and stretching.

Pilates is a holistic strength training that strengthens the deeper, stabilizing muscles. These muscles are necessary for good posture and a healthy body image. To achieve this goal, Pilates combines important principles such as strength, flexibility, control, relaxation and breathing. It is this combination that makes the body improve its awareness while strengthening, stretching and relaxing.

Where does Pilates come from?

Pilates is not an invention of modern times. Pilates was invented by the German Joseph Hubert Pilates (1883-1967). He was imprisoned in Britain during the First World War. During this time, he developed this full-body workout for himself and fellow prisoners to keep fit within his means. After the war Pilates emigrated to the USA, where he opened a studio together with his wife. In the late 1960s, when Pilates died, his technique was somewhat forgotten. In the 90s Pilates became very popular again as a wellness and fitness trend.

The Pilates principles

These are the most important principles in Pilates:

  • Flowing movements
  • Control, concentration
  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Centering

In Pilates exercises it is important that the movements are performed in a flowing, controlled and concentrated manner. Relaxation and breathing help to release or avoid possible tensions and blockages. If the exercises are performed consciously, the control over the body increases and even the smallest muscles are trained. Centering focuses on the center of the body and the internal organs and strengthens the back muscles. At the beginning it is difficult to do Pilates exercises by yourself. It is therefore advisable to take a course with a Pilates trainer. Only correctly performed exercises achieve the desired effect.

What can be achieved with Pilates?

Pilates is a whole body workout. Our daily stresses can bring the body into an imbalance. Muscles, tendons, ligaments around the bones no longer harmonize with each other. To avoid imbalances, regular exercise that affects or trains all parts of the body is very important. Pilates exercises are explicitly designed to bring the body into balance. The body's centre of gravity is at navel level. The Pilates exercises concentrate on this centre, the so-called "powerhouse". The pelvis is the impetus for movement. Once the foundation is laid, the exercises focus on working the whole body to promote body alignment.

The aim is to perform the exercises consciously and with concentration so that incorrect movement behaviour is replaced by a new one. This promotes one's own body awareness. The training includes a coordinated program with strengthening, relaxation and stretching exercises for the muscles. The joints are also mobilised. Pilates training helps to discard old movement patterns thanks to body awareness and to move more consciously in everyday life and during sporting activities, and from the strengthened powerhouse suddenly much more freely and relaxed.

For whom is Pilates suitable?

Pilates is basically a sport for everyone: for young people, seniors, stress-ridden managers, pregnant women, overweight people, sporty people and top athletes. The advantage is that you can achieve excellent results without too much physical effort. The respective exercises are not suitable for everyone. Caution is advised if one has damage to the spine. Also, those who suffer from chronic diseases should definitely ask their family doctor for advice. Caution should also be taken with extreme positions of the spine if you have osteoporosis. You should not do Pilates training if you are suffering from infections or colds, or if you are otherwise unwell. Pilates should only be done, at least initially, in individually tailored classes led by experienced and well-trained instructors.

If you stick to the workout consistently, you'll fulfill your goal, as Joseph Pilates put it: "After ten hours you'll feel the difference, after twenty hours you'll see the difference, and after thirty hours you'll have a new body."