Pilates is a type of exercise designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. It is a full-body system of specific exercises that focus on the core postural muscles (abdomen and back) that help keep the body balanced. Pilates is based on the concepts of awareness, balance, breathing, mental focus, control, flowing movement, and precision. The principle of Pilates is to uniformly develop the body and mind. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment, which are important to help alleviate and prevent back pain.
In the early 1900s, Joseph Pilates was an apprentice of yoga, Zen and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens, and developed the system of exercises typically used in Pilates today. Initially professional dancers, who appreciated improved strength, balance and flexibility, primarily used the Pilates exercise program.
Later, resistance springs were incorporated into rehabilitation programs for hospitalized patients. The springs were later transformed into unique Pilates equipment.
In the 1980s Pilates was rediscovered, and it is now a popular form of exercise. Pilates is often practiced in group mat classes (without equipment), or private or semi-private sessions with or without specially designed equipment.

Related Terms

Core strength training, exercise, matwork, Joseph Pilates, power pilates, resistance springs, Winsor Pilates.