The Pilates "method," as it is now known, is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility, strength, and body awareness, without necessarily building bulk. It was created in the 1920s by the physical trainer Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) for the purpose of rehabilitation.
The method is a series of controlled movements performed on specially designed spring-resistant exercise apparatus (the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Spine Corrector, the Ladder Barrel, and the Wunda Chair) or on the floor (mat work), and the sessions are supervised by specially trained instructors.
Two of the key elements of Pilates are core muscle strength and spinal alignment. The core musculature is loosely defined as the spine, abdomen, pelvis, hips, and the muscles that support these structures.
During a Pilates session, whether it's on the machines or the floor, your instructor will continuously prompt you to concentrate deeply on your core muscles, as well as on your breath, the contraction of your muscles, and the quality (not quantity) of your movements. These are also key elements of Pilates, and your instructor will emphasize them at every session. The objective is a coordination of mind, body, and spirit, something Joseph Pilates called "contrology."
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