Fitness Friday: Pilates – The Powerhouse Workout


Pilates – The Powerhouse Workout

All the Basics: 

Pilates is a physical fitness system, which was developed in the early 20th century by Greek German-born Joseph Pilates. It's primarily popular in the United States (where it was developed) and the United Kingdom (where Pilates also lived and taught).

As of 2005, there were approximately 11 million people maintaining a regular Pilates practice and over 14,000 instructors in the United States alone. 

Pilates called the practice "Contrology," which comes from the word "control."

Like barre workouts and various types of yoga, Pilates focuses on controlled movements, which should look and feel like a workout when practiced. 

Pilates improves overall flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the whole human body. 

The workout puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong powerhouse, as well as improving coordination and balance.

Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two student of the Pilates method, published the first modern book on Pilates, The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning, in 1980 and it outlined six principles of Pilates, including, concentration, control, center, flow, precision and breathing. 

It's appropriate for people of all fitness levels.

[Related: Yoga v. Pilates: The Battle for Strength & Flexibility]

Muscle Groups Worked:

Pilates primarily strengthens the larger muscle groups, especially the core, the group of muscles in the center of the body, which encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, glutes and the inner thighs and the pelvis which is also known as the "powerhouse." 

Key bony landmarks that are key to powerhouse stability in Pilates, include the iliac crest, anterior superior iliac spines, pubic symphysis, ischial tuberosity and the greater trochanter (Human Kinetics)

Origin + History: 

Once again, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates who was a physical culturist from Monchengladbach, Germany. His father was a prize-winning gymnast from Greece while his mom was a naturopath. He studied tons of various styles of both Eastern and Western forms of exercise, including yoga. 

Like yoga, Pilates is intended to strength both the human body and mind. 

His theory largely came from late 19th-century German philosophy that exercise could heal illnesses.

Pilates accompanied his method with various equipment, including the Apparatus, which was designed to help accelerate the process of strengthening, strengthening, body alignment and increased core strength. His most popular piece became the Reformer, which was named for "universally reforming the body."

How It Can Help Your Yoga Practice: 

Pilates has not only been shown to help strengthen the core, but can also help with overall strength and flexibility, allowing the practitioner to have greater control in her yoga practice. It can help with lengthening of the spine and tapping into the core.

[Related: Yoga Journal's The Other Mat]

Benefits of Pilates: 

By practicing Pilates regularly, you can achieve a number of benefits, including improved core strength and stability, improved posture and balance, improved flexibility, as well as the prevention and treatment of back pain. 

It's also easy on the joints and it's also been said to improve sex by the focus on pelvic control. 

Where You Can Find It: 

Pilates classes are found at studios and gyms throughout the United States and throughout the world. A number of exercise videos are also available. 

Photo Cred: John Ranaudo