What is Pilates?
Pilates is an exercise technique that promotes healthy alignment and better posture by building functional core strength. It increases overall strength and flexibility, improves coordination and balance, and helps to prevent injury. With a good instructor who knows how to modify exercises for specific conditions, Pilates can be practiced by most people, at any ability level or stage of life. Once learned, the principles of Pilates may be applied to every other type of exercise or sport, and clients report time and time again how much it has helped them move more confidently and efficiently in their daily lives. A regular Pilates practice can enhance athletic ability, help to reduce stress, promote healthy breathing patterns, and create a deeper “mind-body connection”. In today's society, Pilates has become increasingly relevant, since so many of us sit for prolonged periods of time. Core strength training and therapeutic exercise have become even more valuable in order to avoid or manage many common injuries, especially those of the hips, shoulders, and spine. The style of Pilates that Erin and her instructors teach is both therapeutic and fitness-oriented, and can be tailored to meet the needs of each person or class. Their expert instruction is fueled by knowledge of human anatomy and safe, healthy biomechanics; but it is rooted in the forever important classical repertoire of Pilates exercises.
A Brief History…
Pilates was created by a man from Germany named Joseph Pilates. He was working as a circus tumbler during WWI when he was captured, and spent time in an internment camp. He began to lead exercises for his fellow inmates, and at some point during the war, he started working with injured soldiers… He took springs from under the beds and used them as resistance tools for exercises that could be done while lying down. After the war, he was influenced by the burgeoning arts, holistic health, philosophy, and science in Europe, and became interested in breath, meditation, and modern dance. After training professional boxers for some time, he immigrated to America in 1926, and opened his studio in NYC in 1929. His wife, Clara, was an extremely important partner in the development and teaching of his work. They became renowned for helping professional dancers with injuries, and Pilates taught at Jacob's Pillow*, a summer dance festival during the 40's. There, his now famous mat exercises took shape. With the help of his brother, he designed and built exercise equipment to enhance and facilitate his clients' physical understanding of the work. He named his technique “Contrology”, what we have come to know today as "Pilates". Many say that he was a visionary before his time. The technique has branched into two basic factions over the years; "classical Pilates", and "contemporary Pilates". Contemporary Pilates has evolved as we have come to understand more about human anatomy and the science of therapeutic exercise… but the spirit and foundation of Pilates's important work remains very strong.
*Fun fact: During her dance career, Erin performed multiple times at Jacob's Pillow : )