The Pilates method was developed in the early 1900’s by German born Joseph Pilates (1880-1967).
As a child, Joseph Pilates was very poorly, suffering from various ailments including asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His determination to overcome these ailments inspired him to study and participate in various forms of exercise where he later became a boxer and gymnast and went on to develop the Pilates exercises.
The first Pilates studio was opened in New York in 1926 by Joseph Pilates. It wasn’t until 1970 that Pilates came to the UK and has since become increasingly popular.
Pilates focuses on improving functional movement patterns through an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the body and consists of six Pilates Principles:
Flow – we aim for each movement to be fluid, graceful and elegant
Centering – during all of the exercises, we pay particular attention to the core. By doing so, and strengthening this area, our bodies can function more efficiently.
Breath – using deep exhalations on the exertion point of each exercise helps activate the muscles and keep you focused.
Concentration – by paying attention to the specifics of each exercise we increase our body awareness and gain maximum value.
Control – the mind directs and manages each separate movement so that we are performing these correctly.
Precision – to be specific in each movement that we make is essential so that we gain the maximum benefits for our bodies.
Who is Pilates suitable for?
Everyone! Pilates is suitable regardless of age, ability or experience and is beneficial for back pain and injuries. Pilates improves core strength, the pelvic floor, posture, body awareness, flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, joint mobility, body shape, balance and co-ordination! It is also a great way to relieve stress and improve wellbeing. In addition to this, Pilates is a great form of exercise for pre and postnatal women.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low impact form of exercise that incorporates lateral thoracic breathing with engaging the core while carrying out various exercises with precision and control, working on our coordination. This is more challenging than it may initially sound so don’t be discouraged if it takes a little practise before this becomes second nature.
Pilates also focuses on strengthening the deep core muscles (in particular the abdominals and pelvic floor) leading to better alignment, greater ease of movement and a more functional body. The focus on the core is one of the reasons why Pilates is so amazing for pre and postnatal ladies (and also ladies going through the menopause).
Pilates is a very rewarding form of exercise and you quickly begin to feel the improvement of the core and posture. By participating in Pilates, we increase our self-awareness of how our body feels and helps to re-educate the body to move in a more functional way, which is extremely practical for every day and these changes can stay with you for the rest of your life!
What makes Pilates suitable for Pre & Postnatal women?
The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. As the baby grows and becomes bigger, the abdominals become weak and for some separate (known as diastasis recti). The centre of gravity changes for the mother due to the extra weight on the front of the body leading to a change in posture along with added pressure on the pelvic floor. Pilates can ease the pressure felt by the body during this time and help to get the abdominals and pelvic floor in the optimum condition for pregnancy and labour.
Due to pregnancy and birth (regardless of what delivery) the Postnatal body needs some TLC and attention to help restore it back to its pre pregnancy form (in particular the abdominals, pelvic floor and posture). Restoring the core to make it functional once more is extremely important as the rest of the body will not work properly without this. The core is our Powerhouse that supports the rest of the body.
Pre and postnatal women must be in a specialist Pilates class with an instructor who is qualified to teach exercise for this particular client group. If you are new to Pilates, it is advisable to start after your first trimester. If you are already practising Pilates, then make your instructor aware that you are pregnant (you are usually able to continue in this class until you reach 12 weeks).