Pilates is a series of exercises that strengthen the core and stabilizing muscles around the spine and joints. While the main focus is on the core, other areas such as the hips, glutes, legs, shoulders, and arms will also benefit. Pilates is a safe and effective form of exercise for all individuals and offers a healthy balance of flexibility, stability and strength. This balance of strength, flexibility and stability helps the body move more efficiently and helps to prevent injury. Individuals who have better core strength have better dynamic control of their movements, and are less likely to sustain injuries.
The “core” of the Pilates method is built around six principles: Concentration, Control, Centering, Precision, Flow and Breath. Two other important principles to keep in mind are Stability/Mobility and Opposition. Concentration is the ability to focus on the movement and your bodies ability to execute the movement. Control is movement with a purpose. Centering is initiating movement from your “powerhouse” which includes the abdominals, back, hips and glutes. Movement starts from the core and works out to the extremities. Precision is the quality of movement over the quantity. Flow is the dynamic movement from exercise to exercise with sustainable energy. Breath plays an important role in movement and is often done without much thought. Proper inhalations and exhalations bring energy and endurance to the body along with relaxation. Stability/mobility is key to every movement. The more stable one part of the body is, the more range of motion and more effective the exercise will be executed. This applies to every movement from the Pilates Hundred to a deadlift to a runner trying to gain speed in a race. Lastly, opposition of movement is how the length-strength relationship is built. The more resistance you can create within your own body the harder the muscles work and the more stretch you will create.
As you work deeper into the method you will be able to apply the principles to every movement you do within the Pilates method itself or in other athletic endeavors.