What is Pilates?
Pilates Technique is a form of exercise originally designed by Joseph Pilates about 70 years ago. Joseph Pilates took inspiration from a variety of methods of keeping fit including Yoga, Self-Defense, Weight Training and even Acrobatics! His belief was that if you could strengthen The Core (stomach, back and pelvic floor) as a unit, you would benefit in a number of ways, including toned stomach, healthy back and good posture. The first reportoire which is most commonly taught in group exercise situation is designed to achieve this objective by utilising a range of non-impact gentle but effective exercises.
In normal terms this mean that Pilates Matwork is a gentle form of exercise which will help you strengthen your back, stomach and pelvic floor. Once you are able to engage these muscles correctly, you will then learn to strengthen and tone other muscle groups within the arms, legs and rest of the body. It is usally taught in bare feet or socks and you will spend the majority if not all of your time on the mat. Expect your teacher to spend a great deal of time explaining how you “find neutral”, and how to breathe correctly for your exercises to be effective and productive. You will be constantly encouraged to work at a level that you feel is appropriate for you. There should be no pain or discomfort whilst exercising but you may be aware of using muscles you did not realise were ever there!
This method of exercising is second to none if you want to embark on a programme to keep your back healthy and strong, it will also help you to achieve a toned stomach, a basic session will give you the equivalent of at least 100 abdominal sit-ups without any of the neck strain or usual discomfort! It can often provide fantastic results within those suffering from non-specific low back pain and is often suggested as a maintainence programme to clients by back care practioners including Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists. The best advice for someone suffering with general back pain is to try a session and see how the back responds, no two backs are the same and each person will respond in a different way.
Our classes are divided into ability levels with Beginners through to Advanced, however it is worth noting that the main difference between the levels is the amount of explaining prior to performing an exercise. Beginners will spend a great deal of time establishing their neutral spine and thorassic breathing, whereas Advanced Students will be fully competent in this area and will move more quickly into their prescribed exercise.
Please refer to the Class Timetable for information on when and where our classes are available. If you have any concerns, please contact us.
HISTORY OF PILATES
The technique was created by Joseph Pilates, born in 1880 in Dussledorf, Germany. He was a very sickly child but despite his physical challenges he dedicated his entire life to becoming physically stronger. In fact, by the time he had reached 14 years of age, he was a prime example of anatomy and posed for an artist who was commisioned to paint a set of Anatomical Charts for the medical profession!
In 1912 Joseph moved to England where he earned a living as a boxer and a self-defence trainer. During World War One, he was interned in a camp in Lancaster and later on the Isle of Man. Joseph became a nurse in the camp and trained other interns in physical fitness. He was widely credited when none of the inmates succumbed to a flu epidemic that killed thousands.
After the war he moved to New York where he met his future wife, Clara. Shortly after arriving in New York, Joseph set up an exercise studio in Eighth Avenue. While not much is known about the earliest years of Pilates practice, by the 1940?s Joseph had become a legend within the dance fraternity. A Dance Magazine was seen to quote that “virtually every dancer in New York has meekly submitted to the spirited instruction of Joseph Pilates”. By the early 1960?s Joseph was working directly with the New York City Ballet and “Pilates” was becoming popular outside of New York as well.
When Joseph passed away, he left no will and had designated no line of succession for his work to carry on. Nevertheless, several of his devout students and also his wife, set about to continue his work and phillosophy. Five of his students in fact developed their own version of Pilates, each directly inspired by Joseph himself.
Today there are as you might expect, several styles of Pilates. The method of teaching that we have chosen to adopt is that approved by The Pilates Institute, the national governing body in the UK. You might also expect to see Body Control, Core Control and Stott to name but a few. We would suggest that you find out which method your teacher works with and find the style that is suitable for you.