PILATES is a method of exercise designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s, this system of physical movement encourages the use of visualization and focus to control the muscles. Focusing on healthy breathing and alignment of the spine, the exercises strengthen the core postural muscles and improve bone density. Pilates trains the body to work from the core, rather than extremities of the body. By using smaller, more efficient muscles that hug close to the bone rather than bulky, larger, less refined muscles. Pilates re-organizes muscles, making the little ones activate and the big, dominant muscles release, bringing the muscles into proper balance. Then the muscles move bone into alignment.

Unlike traditional forms of exercise, Pilates exercises are performed in fewer repetitions with emphasis on precise movements requiring control and proper form. The method can be performed in two forms: mat work and equipment exercises. The mat work involves a series of movements performed using body weight and gravity to build strength and flexibility. The equipment exercises involve the use of unique spring based apparatus which provides resistance to either assist or further challenge the movements.

Like Yoga, there are many schools of Pilates. Joseph’s original work has evolved over the past century, developed by dancers, physical therapists and other movement therapists to become this varied and dynamic world of Pilates. Many of these styles are wonderful, each offering something different to the original work.

I trained in a style called Physical Mind. Swell Body trainer, Ebba Legaspi trained in Stott Pilates. Both schools focus on what is called a neutral spine, supporting the natural curve of the spine while you perform exercises. The body becomes trained to hold that neutral spine and proper alignment of the spine while moving through daily life. It is essential to work with a trainer who is educated and whose approach to Pilates works well for you.