Joseph Pilates was a weak and sickly child. Determined to strengthen his body and make it well, he developed a series of exercises to help improve his health. His influences are said to be yoga, Zen philosophy, and exercises borrowed from ancient Romans and Greeks.
When he was interned in England during WWI, Pilates introduced his exercises to other German nationals also interned in the camp. This helped them retain their strength and ward off illness. As he taught his exercises to the other internees, he developed movements for floor or mat workout as well. When Pilates was at the internment camp, he started experimenting with various apparatus and made a few from bed springs. These provided resistance and were perfect for his exercises.
The workout taught to those in the internment camp became the basis of today's popular Pilates movement, which is a series of exercises designed to improve flexibility and strength through a variety of stretching and balancing movements.
Pilates especially appeals to dancers because the workout aids in flexibility without causing muscles to bulk. Athletes, celebrities and models also recommend these exercises. In addition to increased flexibility, they also said to prevent injury and improve posture. The practice strengthens and shapes the body from the inside out. To those who practice Pilates, the body isn't the only area benefiting. Many feel the mind is opened and expanded through regular workouts. Like yoga, it relieves stress and anxiety.
Many in the chiropractic profession recommend Pilates for strengthening the back and the spine. After a regular regimen, one may notice increased mobility in one's joints, a flatter stomach, thinner waist and thighs, and improved circulation.
Because Pilates are gentle exercises without a lot of bouncing around or muscular stress, it's recommended to those seeking rehabilitation through physical therapy. It's also considered a good workout for the elderly and overweight because there's no jumping or lifting involved. Those afflicted with arthritis also appreciate it as it helps to reduce stiffness in the muscles. Since it promotes good posture, it assists in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Pilates is perfect for helping women regain their shape after pregnancy as it especially provides results in the abdominal area. For many people, it is a great head-to-toe workout, improving not only the body but also the mind. Is it any wonder it's the workout of choice for many actors, athletes and dancers?