Pilates is not a fitness fad-it is a holistic concept that will not only make you feel fitter and more flexible, but will also enrich your whole way of life. The series of movements will change how your body looks, giving you a new physical poise and greater mental strength.
It is a thinking way of moving and involves serious commitment to your body and well being. It will also be significantly more effective when combined with enough restful sleep, healthy diet and a regular complementary fitness programme. So Pilates should't be the only exercise you do, but is an invaluable solid support system for any other regular exercise.
HISTORY OF PILATES
Pilates is the vision of Joseph Pilates-born a sickly child he resolved to improve his poor physical health and spent his life overcoming ailments including asthma, rheumatic fever, and rickets. He dedicated his whole life to becoming strong and striving for physical perfection.
The Pilates movements stretch the muscles and pull them into a longer and leaner shape, rather than forcing them to tear and rebuild in a shorter thicker shape as strength training does. It also gives a whole body workout that challenges the body like no other exercise.
We all have niggling pains that indicate tension in our body. We should never ignore these symptoms, but we should use them to identify which areas need more strengthening, stretching or mobility. Pilates trains the body to prevent injury and to maintain good posture and movement
THE PRINCIPALS OF PILATES
CONCENTRATION – Each exercise requires a thought process to control the movement. You also need to block out any other thoughts to fully focus on what you are doing.
BREATHING – The main principal for beginners is that you should breathe out when making the greatest effort using thoracic breathing, which keeps the deep abdominal muscles slightly contracted.
CENTERING – The body is designed to work as a complete unit. If you train to do this you will have a solid center to create the physical power for each movement. In order to visualise the body as an integrated unit think of a conductor bringing together all sections of the orchestra to perform a Concerto.
CONTROL – Good posture can be achieved only when the body is under perfect control. When doing the exercises aim for slow, studied movements, allowing them to flow from start to finish to form a continuous sequence.
POSTURE – Good posture is vital. Bad posture prevents your body functioning efficiently, undermining balance and coordination. The danger being that if we develop a habit of bad posture our body accepts it as normal and we will learn to suffer any associated aches and pains.
NEUTRAL SPINE – term used to describe the spine in it's most natural position. This will not necessarily be the position that feels the most comfortable.
Emma Freeman trained with Michael King of the Pilates Institute, London
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