Did you know that Pilates was developed by a German man, named Joseph Pilates, in the early 20th century?
Pilates.com tells us that Joseph Pilates was “enamoured” by the classical Greek ideal of a man balanced in body, mind, and spirit, and he began to develop his own exercise system based on this concept”. This included a stint teaching self-defence in England before the First World War. Given he was German, during the war he was held as an “enemy alien”, where he taught his fellow internees the system of exercise he had developed.
After the war, Pilates returned to Germany where he opened his own studios. The Pilates method then spread across the world as his students began to teach others from Puerto Rico to New York.
So, what is it that has made it so popular?
Pilates is an epic physical workout which also hones the mind. Benefits include:
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved posture
- Improved flexibility
- Stabilisation of the spine
- Improved balance and coordination
- Increased lung capacity (the ‘Pilates breath’ is integral)
- Prevention of injuries
- Rehabilitation of injuries
- Improved blood circulation
What type of Pilates is for me?
Since Joseph Pilates’ time, many different forms of the exercise have been developed. Some common types of Pilates you may have heard of include:
Mat or floor
As the name suggests, this form of Pilates takes place on a mat on the floor. The focus is on developing a strong core as well as working out the other muscles of the body. You may use some props such as balls or resistance bands. If you’re a beginner, this is the class for you – it’s pretty basic and doesn’t require a particular level of strength or flexibility.
Pilates Barre is a ballet inspired form of Pilates. It takes place at studios with bars installed along the walls or within the room. The bar is used for most exercises in a barre class. Props like balls, weights and resistance bands might be added in as well. Barre is well known for it’s ‘booty burning’ effect with a focus on the glutes, legs, arms, and of course, the core. Barre can sometimes fall into the realms of a cardio routine and will improve your coordination. Many studios will recommend you start with a mat or floor class before moving onto barre.
Reformer Pilates classes can be held individually or in a group. They take place on a reformer machine – fitted out with springs, cables, bar, straps and pulleys. The resistance created by the pulley and spring system is regulated and exact. Reformer Pilates is tough – you can’t cheat it! This means you’ll probably see visible results quicker than mat or floor Pilates. Given the equipment involved, these classes are generally more expensive.