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Pilates - Method Of Body Conditioning
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By Nawaz Modi Singhania  

It is said that the condition of a man can best be judged by what he takes two-at-a-time-- stairs or pills.

All encompassing, the 70-year old internationally acclaimed workout method called Pilates, offers itself to just about everyone, from the sedentary office worker, housewife, the athlete & the professional dancer.

  Tell Me More.....

It was developed in the 1920's by the legendary physical trainer & founder of the Pilates Studio, Joseph H. Pilates. The Pilates Method is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility and strength for the total body, without building bulk. Winners don't do different things; they just do things differently.

"It is the mind which builds the body," said Joseph Pilates.

Not surprisingly, one of the first to use the Pilates Method was dancer Martha Graham, & it was she who said, "The body is your instrument in dance, but your art is outside that creature, the body".

The Pilates Method of body conditioning promotes physical harmony and perfect balance for people of all ages and physical conditions, while producing a refreshing and revitalizing workout.

Sessions are held in closely supervised small groups, each being tailored to cater to an individual's specific needs.

Recently discovered by physical therapists, chiropractors & orthopedics, the Pilates Method can permeate into rehabilitative exercise and physical therapy courses, designed to speed up the recovery of soft tissue injuries.

The Pilates Method is a series of approximately 500 exercises. Exercises can be done both free hand involving just a mat, or by utilizing exercise equipment.

Currently, the Pilates Method is used internationally by individuals at all levels of fitness as well as by dance companies, Broadway shows, students at performing arts schools and universities, sports teams, health spa clients, and fitness enthusiasts at health clubs and gyms.

Little wonder that actresses Katherine Hepburn, Sigourney Weaver & Glen Close, tennis great Martina Navratilova, singer Nancy Sinatra, & even film star Gregory Peck have turned to this system.

It can be used safely by pregnant women to learn proper breathing and body alignment, improve concentration, and recover body shape & tone after pregnancy.

  Strengthens & Conditions the whole body

Other programmes take a "body parts" approach to conditioning, with a specific isolated exercise approach for each muscle group. The Pilates Method, on the other hand, compounds muscle groups & trains the whole body, coordinating the upper & lower musculature with the body's centre.

The balanced body method elongates as it strengthens & stretches, resulting in long, strong & lean muscles.

The exercises are totally non-impact and non-weight bearing, producing fast results.

No muscle group is over-trained or under-trained. The entire musculature is evenly conditioned. This style of exercise is well known for producing sleek, strong, muscular bodies.

The Balanced Body Method should be combined with effective aerobic activity such as a class, jogging, walking, a racket game or cycling for complete programming of both muscular & cardiovascular fitness.

  What Makes Pilates Stand Apart?

As we're all aware, our minds have unbelievable powers over our body.

More complex than other forms of exercise, Pilates, a fusion of western & eastern philosophies, teaches you about breathing with movement, balance, body mechanics, strength, spatial awareness, positioning of the body and flexibility. Exercises are performed from a reclining, standing, kneeling or sitting position.

For the full benefit of the method, clients need to flow from one movement to the next building stamina and cardiovascular fitness.

  Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Method accomplish ?

It relieves back pain, controls weight disorders, relieves stress and stress-related disorders. It is used to improve flexibility of the muscles and joints. It lengthens and strengthens the body. The posture is corrected by correcting the body's coordination, balance, and alignment. It stimulates the circulatory system, & oxygenates the blood, thus releasing endorphins.

It helps heal injured tissues, & is used in the prevention of osteoporosis (brittle, porous bones).

Who can use the Pilates Method ?

Active people who lead stressful lives, athletes, such as football, cricket and basketball players, skiers, golfers, tennis and racquetball players, dancers, actors, musicians and all performing artists. It can be used by those with tissue damage, senior citizens, pregnant women, and all men and women, and boys and girls over 6 years of age. The Method is also very productive for those who lead sedentary lives. So really, it's for any & everybody.

When and why was the Pilates Method started ?

Joseph H. Pilates was a sickly child who suffered from all sorts of ailments such as asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. As a teenager in the 1890s, he began his lifelong quest to improve his health. Eventually, he developed some 500 exercises that helped him and his followers lead a long and healthy life. In 1926, he moved from Germany to New York City and established his own fitness studio, attracting many dancers, athletes, and businessmen, & people from all walks of life.

What is the primary focus of Pilates ?

To develop the body and mind uniformly. To concentrate on the Powerhouse, including working the abs and glutes; to exercise the heart & other internal organs; to gain power and feline grace.

Can a person lose weight by doing Pilates ?

By using the Pilates Method, you will tone all your muscles and lose inches around the stomach, thighs, and buttocks. In conjunction with a proper diet, the Method promotes a lean, sleek and graceful appearance.

Can a person do Pilates in conjunction with other exercises ?

Yes, there is no prohibition from combining other exercise programs with Pilates depending upon your goals.

Do I develop large muscles with Pilates ?

Not at all. Long lean defined muscles are developed.

How many hours a week do I need to spend on Pilates ?

For beginners, the recommendation is 2- 3 days per week.

For what length of time should I do Pilates ?

For life! As long as you have a physical existence, you require physical exercise! Many people have worked with the Method their entire adult life.

I have an ongoing back condition. What should I do ?

A large number of people use the Method to improve their back problems with excellent results. When you strengthen the Powerhouse, change muscle length, re-balance and relax the body, and correct postural deviations, you alleviate many back problems and/or prevent them from occurring. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program to correct back problems.

Can the Method help people with soft tissue damage ?

Yes. Many people with soft tissue injuries, especially athletes and performing artists, can repair damage to the body using the Pilates Method.

Do I need to follow a special diet ?

There is no special diet required for the program. Eat a noraml, healthy, sensible diet.

If I'm a senior citizen, can I do Pilates ?

Yes, with your doctor's approval. Joseph H. Pilates used the Method into his 80s, and many elderly people in their 60s and 70s work out several days a week.

  Birth of Pilates

In 1923, German-born Joseph Pilates introduced his novel & revolutionary method of physical & mental conditioning to the U.S.A. As a child, Pilates was an asthmatic. This acted as a motivator to him, to improve his strength & physique.

Joe was a gymnast and pugilist who had stimulating & novel ideas about fitness & rehabilitation following physical injury. In a British internment camp in World War I, Pilates rigged a hospital bed so that patients could begin their recovery while still flat on their backs. This idea evolved into the Cadillac, one of the main components of what was to become a whole method of exercise, which Joe called "Controllogy". That name never stuck, but Joe's surname certainly did.

By the 1940's, Joe had achieved notoriety in the dance community. At some time or other virtually every dancer in New York had submitted to the spirited instruction of Joe Pilates.

By the early 1960's, Pilates was becoming popular outside New York.

As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, "In dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake."

When Joe passed away, he left no will and had appointed no line of succession for his work to carry on. Nevertheless, his work was to remain through the efforts of his disciples.