10 Things to know before starting Pilates
1. The Pilates method of training was developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany in the early 1900’s. It was originally intended for rehabilitating injured soldiers of the 2nd world war, using bedsprings for resistance. After Joseph moved to New York, his method of training was discovered by Boxers, Ballet Dancers and other athletes to strengthen their physique and recover from injuries.
2. The original set of exercises, using only body weight, (no equipment) was only 34. Many variations of them has since then been developed, but the “core 34” still stands as the foundation. All other exercises stem from these – important to know and thus notice how an exercise repeats itself in different ways, like a theme in a musical composition.
3. Besides the Mat, other Pilates equipment are: the Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Arc Barrel. All but the Arc barrel are Spring- loaded equipment.
4. More than just a series of exercises, there is a distinct mindset to Pilates. Performing the exercises without this mindset of mind-body connection is not doing Pilates. You can call it what you want, but it is not the same thing. Besides Yoga, Joseph was perhaps one of the first to develop the concept of Mind-Body Connection, meaning, the Mind tells the Body what to do and is concentrating on the movements. There is an aspect of courage to trusting your muscles and a desire to master your movements. He believed so strongly in controlling ones movements that he wanted to call his method “Contrology”, but his friends felt that would never “sell” and would be too hard to pronounce.
5. The clothing to wear for Pilates: Joseph himself wore very little clothing. He was often pictured in a turtleneck sweater and underwear. Today, mostly bare feet or sticky yoga socks are worn on the feet, and fitting clothing allows full expression of movement without restriction.
6. Every movement has and internal and external component. Ignoring the internal part of the movement is not the intention of Pilates. If the movement is external only, it can only engage the surface muscles, and not the core.
7. The movement sequence is designed to be in a flow. There is an order to the movements that has a science and purpose behind them. Joseph organized theses movements in a particular order for maximum benefit.
8. Every movement also has an opposition. Much like a teeter-totter, when one body part moves in a certain direction, then another one moves in the opposite direction. The key is to start these movements at the same time.
9. Joseph Pilates was a revolutionary against the “then-popular” high repetition style of training. He taught fewer repetitions with mental focus yields better results. Therefore most of the exercises are in the 10-20 rep range, with some as few as 3 repetitions.
10. Pilates is NOT A Series of stretches, nor is it a flexibility exercise modality. The main purpose of the core is to avoid movement. Pilates is a core stability training modality. Flexibility is achieved by having a more stable body. It is not the main focus of Pilates.