Created over eighty years ago, by Joseph H. Pilates and thus named after him - Pilates has become more popular than ever with more and more gyms starting to offer this style of exercise which tones and targets your core muscles. As of 2005, there are 11 million people who practice the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States. From celebrities to world renowned boxers, each can attest that Pilates is worth giving a try.
Pilates History and Background
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates, a gymnast born in Germany with part Greek ancestry. Pilates first called his method Contrology, from control and Greek -λογία, -logia. He developed this system during the first World War with the hopes of being able to successfully rehabilitate returning veterans. His methods focus on using the mind to control the muscles. His workouts involve breathing and stretching exercises that focus on strengthening the abdominal core. Strengthening your core muscles is essential in providing support for the spine. Joseph Pilates believed that your core or “powerhouse muscles” are the areas of your body that start from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line and are your most important muscle groups. Specifically, they include the abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, low back muscles, muscles around the hips, and the glutes. He also proclaimed that without them being strong and limber, you risk future injury.
The Pilates Principles
Pilates created "The Pilates Principles" to condition the entire body: proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement. Today there are many different versions of Pilates, from new moves and added props - this new craze has made everyone an expert, but the original Pilates was strictly without so many devices and mainly dealt with focusing on controlling muscle movement and your breathing while you work to increase flexibility and lean muscle.
Pilates is great at any age and for most it has developed into a daily routine that is said to relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Much like yoga, Pilates increases joint range of motion, restores postural alignment, improves circulation, creates a stronger and more flexible spine, and offers relief from back pain and joint stress. The six most common positions and moves are “Hundreds”, “Single Leg Stretch”, “Spine Stretch Forward”, “Rolling,” “Side Kicks”, and “Seal.”
As Pilates himself once said "I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." - Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86. If your gym, fitness or health club offers Pilates - sign up and give it a try. Some of the movements may be difficult for beginners, but with time just about anyone can handle it, even at any age - as proved by its creator.
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