Joseph Pilates developed his method of exercising during the First Word War. Initially it was a way for him to stay in shape while he was interned in a detention camp. Later, he introduced it as a form of rehabilitation for injured soldiers. In its early years, Pilates was popular with dancers and gymnasts. Today, it has become a popular form of exercise not only for professional athletes, but for the rest of us as well!
Like yoga, Pilates is an exercise philosophy for mind-body enhancement. The emphasis is on muscle strengthening, balance and stretching, particularly for the core (abdominal and spinal) muscles. The controlled breathing and mental concentration needed to do the exercises correctly are great stress relievers. The movements can improve joint range of motion, and muscle elasticity… leading to more flexibility and strength.
Many people get started in Pilates by taking a class at the local gym. Its a good idea to let the instructor know you are a new student. She will introduce the exercises at a “level” that is right for you. It’s not about competing with your neighbors… you work at your own pace. As with any new exercise routine, check with your doctor before trying it.
A great benefit of taking a Pilates class is decreased muscle tension, and anxiety. Another benefit is leaving the class with a lot more energy than you had at the start!