Pilates is a rehabilitative practice that was founded by German Anatomist Joseph Pilates in the early 20th Century. A few of Joseph Pilates’s protégé’s preserved his work and carried his original teachings to create the Classical method. While the Contemporary method of Pilates borrowed fundamentals and elements from the Classical method to create a newer version of the same exercises with variations by modernizing them. This method of Pilates is also heavily influenced by bio-mechanics.
The Classical method follows a set order and level to the exercises. The chronology in which the exercises are performed and taught builds intelligently with foundational exercises at the starting and more complex ones as the Practitioner gains strength and control. The Classical equipment is built with heavier springs and is designed to help the Practitioner perform the exercises with a flow. There is a lot of stress on transitions between exercises which creates an extra challenge to the practice and is also built around the Pilates Principles of (Breath, Concentration, Control, Centering, Focus, Precision and Flow).
The Contemporary method does not follow a set order of exercises. However, the Instructor will make sure that every class is designed to challenge the body in different planes and range of movement from lying to sitting to being on fours to standing positions, while also incorporating exercises that aid spinal flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation. Most of the original exercises are modified with modern movement patterns and physiotherapy techniques. The Contemporary equipment is built with lighter springs and a lot of newer exercise props and apparatus are used to offer resistance and support to perform the exercises.
Whichever form of Pilates one chooses to practice, both the Classical and Contemporary methods are aimed at healing and helping people live fully in their bodies.
Myths surrounding the Pilates practice:
Pilates is all about the Core
Pilates has an extensive list of benefits that goes beyond just core strength. It aims at the steady development of the body: it improves posture, flexibility, muscle endurance, coordination, balance and strength. Exercises are designed to integrate and teach the body to use every tiny little muscle to perform a movement. This makes the movement more efficient and creates a system of functional strength to all other movements in the human body and just not while exercising.
Pilates is only for Women
This is a very common misbelief that Pilates is only for women. In reality, not many know that this exercise regime was originally intended for men. Joseph Pilates rehabilitated prisoners of war and assisted many soldiers to recuperate from their injuries using his method which was earlier known as ‘Contrology’.
Men usually engage in high impact exercise methods, which largely activates one’s dominant muscle groups, which creates muscle imbalances. The non-dominant muscles are likely to become tight, weak and prone to injuries. Practising Pilates regularly helps in lengthening and strengthening the muscles correctly, increases the range of motion in the joints and promotes the overall development of the body.
Pilates is an effortless exercise regime
One tends to find Pilates effortless if they are not doing the exercises the way it is meant to be done. It requires one to engage both the dominant and non-dominant muscles to be able to do Pilates in good form. Pilates is not a casual form of exercise; the work is extremely deep and incorporating all of the Principles including the breathing mechanism while exercising is challenging enough to make the practice extremely invigorating.
Pilates solely can help one lose weight
Pilates is a conditioning program with a lot of health benefits and complements any other fitness regime one chooses to practice to lose weight. Doing Pilates with a focus to lose weight might not help. Shedding excess weight requires an adequate amount of cardiovascular activity combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
As an immunity building practice, we are all aware that COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, which depletes the oxygen supply to the body. Pilates promotes deep lateral breathing which improves lung capacity. This in turn improves circulation which is vital to a healthy respiratory system. Exercises are done rhythmically which stimulates the blood flow and in turn the lymph flow. This helps to flush out toxins and return the lymph to our bloodstream clean and healthy. Which in turn contributes to building immunity and maintaining a healthier body.
During World War 1 between 1914 -1918 when the Influenza Pandemic broke out, Joseph Pilates was placed at an internment camp where he was teaching this practice to the Prisoners of War and it is believed that not one internee who practised this regime contracted the flu.
-by Kavita Prakash, Founder and Principal Instructor, Pilates for Wellbeing