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Pilates Pilates Videos

Overview Of Pilates

The sheer weight of books, instructional DVDs and infomercials that promote Pilates is enough to disguise its simplicity. At its foundation, Pilates is a system of exercise that gradually develops your muscle strength, encourages your body's flexibility and promotes your overall vitality and health. Though it has only recently become popular, its origin can be traced to the early 1900's. Below, you'll discover how Pilates was created, an overview of its core principles and common misperceptions surrounding the discipline.

Before Its Time

As a child and young man, Joseph Pilates was plagued by health issues. Suffering from rheumatic fever and respiratory problems, he became devoted to searching for ways to live a healthy, active life. But, rather than focusing solely on physical activity, he explored various methods of developing both his body and mind. He believed that long-term health required a regimen of physical and mental stimulation and participated in gymnastics, boxing, fencing and yoga. By studying how each activity impacted his body, he created a series of exercises that could be completed on the floor. Slowly, over 20 years, he began to formulate the system that would become known as Pilates.

A Focus On Principles

Pilates wanted his exercise program to avoid an imbalance that favored physical training over mental development (and vice versa). Instead, he based his regimen upon 6 guiding principles that encouraged training both body and mind. By focusing equally on breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision and muscle development, he wanted to leverage the connection between a person's intellect and physical energy. Pilates claimed that doing so would allow any person to live healthily while moving with balance and grace. That is, by strengthening the connection between mind and body, a person could compensate for the body's inherent weaknesses while taking advantage of its strengths.

Common Misperceptions About Pilates

As the Pilates system has become more popular in recent years, misperceptions continue to circulate. Some are confused by the advertising they see and believe that it's little more than a higher-impact copy of yoga. Others believe that Pilates is only relevant for improving the health of women. Still others dismiss the program as "too easy" to be beneficial. All of these are misperceptions.

Though Joseph Pilates was devoted to yoga and his system is compatible with it, they are entirely different pursuits. Each has a unique set of goals. Further, the belief that Pilates is most relevant for women is understandable (due to commercials showing a female-centric audience), though mistaken. In reality, Joseph Pilates created his exercise routine to benefit the body regardless of gender. Finally, many believe Pilates is "too easy." This is likely due to most classes and instructional materials being focused upon beginners. However, like most exercises, Pilates encourages people to progress to intermediate and advanced levels of activity. In fact, many top athletes are Pilates enthusiasts.

Better Health And Flexibility

Joseph Pilates was always more interested in developing exercises that focused on building core muscle strength, spinal stability, flexibility and balance. He believed that doing so was the most potent way to achieve overall health. In fact, after a long, healthy life, he was rumored to have claimed, "...the whole world should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." To him, his exercise routine was more than merely a way to keep fit. He was confident that by strengthening the connection between the mind and body, people would achieve a level of health unsustainable through other methods. Today, though Joseph Pilates has long since passed away, his legacy continues to inspire millions of people. His exercise system was arguably before its time.