Pilates aims to strengthen the body in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing.
Pilates exercises are done on a mat or using special equipment, such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair. With its system of pulleys and springs, handles and straps, the apparatus can provide either resistance or support, depending on your needs.
Pilates was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected. His method was influenced by western forms of exercise, including gymnastics, boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling. Pilates immigrated to the US in the 1920s and opened a studio in New York, where he taught his method, which he called “contrology” – for several decades.
Pilates has something to offer people of all ages and levels of ability and fitness, from beginners to elite athletes. The apparatus can be used to provide support for beginners and people with certain medical conditions, as well as resistance for people looking to challenge their body.
If you have any health concerns, such as a health condition or an injury, seek advice from your GP or a health professional before starting any exercise programme.
There are many reports on the health benefits of pilates. However, few of these have been subjected to rigorous scientific examination, and there’s a need for more research in this area.
Practitioners say regular pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, pilates can complement training by developing whole-body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury.
NHS Guide to Pilates