What Is Pilates?
Between boot camps, dance beat workouts, wall climbing and ultra fit weight catching contests, Pilates remains as the only widely recognized fitness method to be named after its founder, thus fitting into that uncommon category of both noun and verb.
But what does “doing Pilates” really mean? Kevin A. Bowen is a co-founder of the Pilates Method Alliance. His definition of Pilates, below, is the best I’ve read.
Stretch, Strengthen And Balance
Developed in the early 1900s by German-born Joseph Pilates, the Pilates exercise method is a program of physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. In 1926 Joseph and his wife Clara introduced their exercise system, originally called “Contrology”, to New York City.
Pilates exercise focuses on postural symmetry, breath control, abdominal strength, spine, pelvis and shoulder stabilization, muscular flexibility, joint mobility and strengthening through the complete range of motion of all joints. Instead of isolating muscle groups, the whole body is trained, integrating the upper and lower extremities with the trunk.
Practice, Practice, Practice
“Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your mental and subconscious activities.” (Joseph Pilates, 1945)
What I like about Kevin’s definition is that it specifically lists the fully integrated low impact approach to fitness and well-being that separates Pilates from the competition.