What is the Origin of The Pilates Method?
There is lots of hype around the health benefits - and enviable hollywood abs - associated with Pilates. Have you ever wondered where it all began?
Pilates, or ‘Contrology’, was the brain child of Joseph Pilates. Originally from Germany, Joseph Pilates lives in New York and predominately trained ballerinas. The method was call “Contrology’ because of its focus on controlled breathing.
Similar to yoga, Pilates is all about linking movement to breath in order to maximize the physical toning impact on the muscles. The method trains deep core muscles creating an ultra toned torso from the inside out.
Joseph Pilates first created a series of exercises done on a mat called 'mat work'. He then went on to build and design Pilates apparatus machines that were intended to help his clients access their deeper core muscles and gain more benefit from the mat work.
The classical mat work series includes thirty six exercises that are intended to be performed in a sequence. The first exercise in the sequences is the one most commonly associated with Pilates and is called 'the hundred’.
The hundred is a tough core exercise that involves curling the spine up on off the mat from tip to tail making a canoe shape with the body. In the most supported modification of this exercise the feet remain on the mat with knees bent. To make the exercise more challenging the feet would be lifted off the mat with bent knees and the shins would remain parallel with the mat. From there, to find more challenge to feet would be pushed out to a forty five degree angle with straight legs. For the crazy fit Pilates enthusiast, the legs would actually be lowered down toward the ground. In any of these positions the key is to maintain the integrity of the canoe shaped torso (or C shape of the spine).
Once the proper position is found, the real work begins. The hundred is named for the one hundred straight arm pulses and breaths that are completes in increments of five. Five pulses of the arm on the inhale, and five pulses of the arm on the exhale. Some Pilates teachers encourage clients to sip air in and breath is out in short audible pulses, where others encourage a long steady breath in and a long steady breath out. In any case, after one ‘hundred’ you will understand just how intense the Pilates method can be!
In a Pilates studio today, it is very typical to see more apparatus training than mat work. The most common apparatus that is seen in home studios and Pilates studios is the Reformer. The Reformer allows the Pilates client, usually under the guidance of a teacher, to utilize tensioned handles on the hands and feet while laying on a sliding bed. Crazy right?! This system of springs however enables the client to better use their deep core muscles.
Whether you enjoy mat work, or the Pilates apparatus, this workout will most certainly help you achieve a stronger core.