Pilates is an exercise method developed by Joseph Pilates. Pilates emphasizes balanced development of the body by building core strength and flexibility. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles closest to the spine. Core work flattens abdominals and sculpts back muscles and increases flexibility. According to Mr. Pilates, if your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If your spine is completely flexible at 60, you are young.
How is Pilates done?
On a mat on the floor. This is an excellent way to perform Pilates because there’s nothing helping you. It’s only you working with your body weight and alignment against gravity.
On specialized equipment. The Reformer is a rectangular frame with four legs and a cushioned mat that slides back and forth on wheels with the resistance of springs and pulleys. All kinds of exercises are done on the Reformer to promote length, strength, flexibility, and balance. These exercises are done while seated, standing or lying down, pushing, pulling and working with the spring tension.
The Cadillac, aptly named because it offers so much in one package, is a table with a canopy from which a trapeze, springs and pulleys hang. Because of its height, the Cadillac is a comfortable piece of equipment for anyone who may have trouble getting down on to the floor to work out. The Cadillac has many features including leg springs, arm springs, fuzzy loops to hang from, a push-through bar for stretching, and even a trapeze. You can isolate almost every muscle group on this machine – it is an excellent tool for breaking down motion into small pieces to restore correct motion patterns. This is why it is often used in rehabilitation settings for those recovering from joint replacement surgery or immobility due to injury or illness.
The Chair is designed to stretch and strengthen muscle groups not easily reached by more traditional techniques and equipment. Exercises may be done on the Chair while seated, standing and lying upon it. The Chair consists of a seat and a foot bar where springs are attached. Chair work focuses on core strength, leg strength, shoulder girdle stability, mobility and functional movements such as standing, climbing, pushing and lifting. The Chair is considered to be the most challenging piece of Pilates equipment in terms of building strength in the legs and shoulders.