what is pilates?

Designed in Germany in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates, this is an exercise system that coordinates mind, body and breath to develop sleek and functionally strong abdominal muscles, a strong and supple back and aligned shoulder girdle.


How it can help

Pilates exercise 1Pilates is extremely effective for those suffering from back problems and other muscle / joint conditions, as it works to strengthen the core abdominal muscles which support and stabilise the spine. The exercises help joints by promoting correct alignment throughout the body, thus reducing wear and tear, and by activating the deep muscles of the body which support the joints.

Pilates is also a fantastic workout for toning and strengthening the body, for preventing or recovering from injuries and also for relaxation, through working with the breath. Pilates can help reduce and prevent back pain, improve shoulder injuries and knee problems and is also suitable for those suffering from arthritis or osteoporosis.

For a list of some of the conditions that Pilates can help with see benefits.

The basics

Pilates exercise 2Core Pilates classes are practiced on a mat in a sequence of specific exercises combined with focused breathing. The exercises are low-impact – ie, you don’t get out of breath – and promote relaxation through the integration of breathing patterns and through concentration on the movements.

A typical class will start by warming up, relaxing and stretching muscles before moving into a more dynamic section which focuses on stabilisation and spinal flexibility. We then warm down and perhaps end with a relaxation exercise. Props such as balls, bands and foam rollers are used and clear instruction and adjustments are given throughout the class. Every exercise will focus on core stability, whether we are working legs, buttocks, arms or the back.

Penny, your instructor, will ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly, whether you are in a general class or a more specific class such as Pilates for Runners, Pilates for Seniors, Pregnancy Pilates or Back Care Pilates. Click here for class details.

Pilates machines

Pilates studio sessions are taught on machines such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Chair. These machines were specifically designed by Joseph Pilates and use springs to provide resistance and help isolate the correct muscle groups. There is a huge variety of exercises that can be taught on the machines and in a studio session these will be tailored to your individual needs. For example, exercises can be chosen for their ability to correct postural problems or help injuries, or purely to work the abdominal muscles harder! For details of Penny’s equipment sessions click here.