Pilates is a gentle form of gymnastics that combines deep breathing with physical exercises.
Pilates is a physical training method inspired by yoga, dance and gymnastics. It can be practiced on the floor, on a mat, or with the help of equipment. Proprioceptive toys are also used. These objects (balls, springs, elastics) induce imbalances, causing the body to use a specific set of stabilising muscles.
The exercises are laborious, but gentle: without sudden movements and without impact shocks. They must never cause pain or overtax a muscle group. On the contrary, a complete exercise programme aims to put all the muscle groups into action, in alternation, sometimes in unusual combinations. Particular emphasis is placed on exercises for the lower trunk (abdominal and gluteal muscles), an area that Joseph Pilates, the creator of the method, called the “generator”. There is also a strong emphasis on breathing. As they require a certain concentration, these exercises allow a good awareness of muscle function and its control.
The main principles
The Pilates method is based on 8 basic principles which must always be present in the mind of the practitioner: concentration, control, centre of gravity, breathing, fluidity, precision, sequence and isolation. The abdominal, gluteal and back muscles are involved in most of the exercises. Good posture is essential to the practice of Pilates.