Many exercise enthusiasts have had a chance to try exercise inspired by Joseph Pilates, and a growing number of instructors are learning how to teach it.
Over 75 years ago, Joseph Pilates developed a method of body conditioning. He studied yoga, Zen, and the exercise philosophies of the ancient Greeks and Romans, then developed a fitness program that strengthened his rather sickly body. Over the years, he developed his fitness programs further and began designing special equipment on which to perform some of the exercises.
In the 1920’s the dancers incorporated Joseph Pilates techniques into both modern dance and classical training, and until the last decade it has been an exercise method used almost exclusively by dancers and as a method of physical therapy.
There are many different names for this method, as the name “Pilates” is copyrighted. However the different companies who train instructors for this method have similarities. The technique has two modalities:
1) Floor or mat work
2) Equipment exercises using the Universal Reformer, the Trapeze Table, and other supplemental pieces which were originated by Joseph Pilates.
Mat work is taught in groups or individually. The exercises focus on pelvic stabilization and abdominal control, as well as joint mobility, flexibility, and strengthening of the arms and legs. Proper breathing control is essential to the technique. Mat work prepares the exerciser for movements done on the equipment. Most exercise videos that feature a “Pilates” type conditioning are mat work.
Equipment or Machine work is learned one-on-one. The Universal Reformer looks like a bed frame with a sliding carriage on springs. The spring tension determines the amount of resistance. Exercises done on the Reformer are in supine, kneeling, sitting and standing positions, sliding the carriage against resistance by pushing or pulling.
The Trapeze Table looks like a 4-poster bed with springs, trapezes, bars and straps, allowing a variety of exercises to be done.
This method of exercise is good for total body conditioning, injury prevention, and injury rehabilitation. Instructors and trainers who are interested in offering this method of exercise should seek out specialized certification.