It is said that a healthy body is a happy body, and in the hierarchy of needs, health is at the very bottom and most basic of human development. Many people strive for self-development while neglecting to take care of the basic requirement: the body. One of the guides to positive self-development for Sport and life is through Pilates. But what really is Pilates? The popularity of this physical exercise is considered to be one of the best physical fitness methods ever. But where did it come from and what are the underlying principles behind it?
Pilates is a system of physical fitness based on what its developer, Joseph Pilates called Contrology. Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) was a German who immigrated in 1912 to England and became a boxer, circus trainer and an instructor in self-defense. After World War II he went to the US and started a training studio in which Pilates taught physical fitness using Contrology, a system that used the mind to control the core postural muscles of the body to promote balance and alleviate pain. The essential principles aside from mind over matter include breathing, centering, concentration, control and fluidity. The training is intensive and requires the use of specialized equipment that involves considerable expenditure of time and funds, because much of the routines required individualized customization.
Some Pilates methods used in body conditioning may actually be used as part of self-development for both sports and life. Because the system emphasizes the minds control over the body, it engages both the mental and physical aspects. The focus is on improving flexibility and strength without developing unnecessary muscle bulk. More muscle means more weight, and this can be a hindrance in sports and everyday life. Designed and executed properly, the true Pilates system can lead significant improvements in health and well-being. However, Pilates has become a generic term and some people have taken advantage of its popularity to market pseudo-Pilates workout programs that do not meet the requirements and principles of the method laid down by Pilates in his books Return to Life through Contrology and Ýour Health. Incorrect or excessive use of the various routines in Pilates can lead to undesirable results. Before engaging in any Pilates program, it would be best to familiarize yourself with the qualifications of the trainer, whether they have the necessary knowledge to teach Pilates. Some of the original students of Pilates include Romana Kryzanowska, Jay Grimes, Eve Gentry, Ron Fletcher, Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel. The official Pilates site has a list of accredited teachers.
For those who have no access to official Pilates trainers, the methods are available in the form of instructional videos and the equipment can be purchase online. Again, ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable site so that you will not be victimized by scam artists. It is best, when engaging in any physical exercise or system, to do so with a partner or group. Aside from safety reasons (in case you overdo it or you get an injury), it is more fun to engage in a fitness program with other people, and the likelihood of you continuing the program is greater if there is someone pushing you or encouraging you. This is especially crucial at the beginning, when your aching muscles will scream at you to stop whatever you are doing. Once you get acclimatized to the program, it gets easier.
True enough, Pilates focuses on developing physical balance and harmony with the concerted use of the mind and muscles. It is a method that fits in very well with efforts at self-development which strives to achieve just that. It does not matter in what shape you are in. The key is commitment and perseverance on the chosen course. Add some strength training and you will do fine.