Across Melbourne, we’ve noticed a trend taking place in Pilates classes that contradicts everything that we love about Pilates. We’ve decided to develop a two-part blog series for you to understand the core facts principles of Pilates, the trends that are hijacking the practice, and some tips for you to remain focussed on your Pilates.
Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates as a novel approach to exercise. As a sickly child in Germany, Joseph devoted much of his time and energy into understanding and optimising the human condition with an integration of Eastern and Western philosophies. He researched every form of exercise he could, from classical Greek and Roman exercises to bodybuilding and gymnastics. Combine this with his passion for yoga, tai chi, Zen meditation and martial arts, as well as a concentrated study of anatomy and physiology, and Joseph Pilates is recognised as a pioneer for human exercise conditioning.
During World War I, Joseph used his knowledge to rehabilitate and treat wounded patients, many of whom were ultimately bedbound. This gave rise to the Pilates machine known as the Reformer.
Pilates is a restorative practice, comprised of six main principles.
With your focus directed inwards, you’ll remain more present during your exercise and gain more from the mind-body connection which it encourages.
By using the muscles of your core to facilitate all movement, you’ll benefit all of your muscular function and health
Control is essential during Pilates, and far more beneficial than repetition or intensity
Pilates encourages you to remain with your breath, and use deep exhalations as you perform each movement.
Correct form is paramount to remain safe and to gain the most benefits from your practice
Each Pilates movement should be smooth and fluid, so that the body moves without tension and works with the breath.
Pilates lovers will tell you; it’s not simply a physical training regime, but a complete synchronicity of the mind and body. Pilates was designed to provide your body with controlled resistance for a powerful full-body system of movement, perfect for people of all levels. The simplicity of the movements involved can make Pilates look relatively easy, but Pilates practitioners know that the simplicity is a veil over the powerful exercise it delivers.
As Pilates brings your focus to your core and your breath, and preserves a commitment to precision and care, you are encouraged to notice throughout the class if your alignment is dropping or your focus is straying. For many people who believe they can complete a certain amount of push-ups, often when asked to do the same amount with perfect form they find that they simply cannot – instead, their form deteriorates as they complete more and more push-ups until they are not getting any of the benefits that they believe they are. Realistically, to complete less push-ups but with perfect technique will give you far more benefits!
In Pilates, you are encouraged to remain present with your movement and conscious of how your breath is connected to your actions. This mindfulness is something that we are not often required to do, especially in our modern age of distractions – we won’t even catch a tram without having a friend to text, a social media feed to peruse, news to read, or music to listen to. Pilates aims to clear the clutter from the mind and reconnect it with the body, in a series of exercises formulated from a melting pot of sports science principles and techniques.