Overview Of Pilates
Before Its TimeAs 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 PrinciplesPilates 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 PilatesAs 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.