Pilates, An Introduction

Melissa Martin, Certified Pilates Instructor |

You have probably seen pilates at your gym or at least heard of it, and may be wondering what it is. Is it another new fitness “fad” or gimmick? What is it exactly and why should you consider adding it into your fitness routine? We will discuss these topics including the history of this timeless form of exercise.


What is Pilates?


Pilates can be summed up in 3 words: stretch (with) strength (and) control. According to its creator, Joe Pilates, “Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit”. This is done through a system of various exercises performed both on a mat and with special apparatus. Joe created this work 100 years ago in the 1920’s as a compilation of his work as a professional boxer, gymnast, circus performer, and yoga. During WW1, he and other German people, including injured German soldiers, living in England were interned at the Isle of Man. This was also during the flu epidemic where many people died. Being that Joe and the others were living in terrible conditions in the internment camp, one would assume they would have been hit the hardest. He used his Pilates method to keep everyone physically fit and strong and also rehabilitated the injured soldiers from their beds. Doing this, they were able to avoid a high death toll and remained in very good health during the time they were in the internment camp.


Who Should Do Pilates?


People of all ages and abilities can benefit and is why Pilates is utilized for everyone from professional athletes and dancers to physical therapy clinics. It is particularly important for maintaining lifelong wellness and movement, especially for those aging or compromised physically. I, for one, have benefitted tremendously by using Pilates to rehabilitate my back after multiple spinal fusions. Outside of the initial physical therapy work I did after surgery, Pilates was the only thing that helped me recover, gain strength and flexibility, and keep my pain levels managed. It was so successful for me that I ended up becoming certified in the method and have enjoyed helping others reach their health and fitness goals for over 10 years. If you are interested in trying Pilates, after first checking with your doctor, look into your local studio or gym that offers private sessions and group classes. If you have had surgery or deal with any kind of injury or illness, a private setting would best suit you. If you don’t have any major health issues or physical limitations and are interested in Pilates for the fitness benefits, a group class or private session is perfect for you.


I truly hope you come to love Pilates as much as I do and experience its many benefits. And remember, as Joe Pilates said, “You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”