As an exercise physiologist I am extremely interested in all aspects of human health and performance and the most effective ways to improve them.
One method of exercise that I regularly prescribe to my clients is pilates, especially to improve postural muscle strength.
Pilates was invented and developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. He was formerly a gymnast and bodybuilder who had further interests in yoga and kung fu. The pilates method was originally called ‘Contrology’. The method became popularized as Joseph and his wife, Clara, established a following from New York dance and performing arts communities. Today clinics and studios add their personalized touch to Pilates but essentially the exercises remain unchanged.
The simple exercises prescribed via the pilates method are great for building body awareness and a good starting point for improving mind-body connection (If you are more interested in developing this aspect of your being I would more strongly recommend forms of tai chi, yoga or meditation).
When performing exercises the Joseph Pilates method way it is essential to understand the 8 essential principles. These principles focus on balancing and supporting the postural muscles of the body:
Concentration with regards to each body movement.
Centering with regards to improving abdominal control.
Breathing – deep controlled diaphragmatic breathing. Completely inhaling and exhaling.
Muscle Control, exact and correct form. Improving control of weaker muscles.
Precision – each movement is mastered to the point of automation.
Flow – continuous smooth and fluid movements (as per some forms of Yoga and Tai Chi)
Alignment – Good posture and awareness of placement of all parts of your body.
Integration and routine – Incorporating all the above principles helps achieve body balance.
So, if you haven’t already, I certainly recommend that you begin to learn some of Joseph Pilates exercises to either add to your exercise schedule or perhaps as a kick-start back to moving and feeling better!