Pilates is as much a philosophy as it is an excellent workout. Familiarising yourself with the principles behind Pilates will aid both your practice and preparation for each class, as well as helping you appreciate how cutting edge its emergence was in the early 1900s.
Principle One: Centering
In Pilates, all movements originate from the centre of the body. The rationale behind this being that by consciously bringing focus to the centre it is believed to bring calm to the spirit, whilst also helping all muscles develop and function properly with it acting as the ‘powerhouse’ from which all energy for exercise and movement is derived.
Principle Two: Control
Control, rather than speed and high intensity. The underlying assumption to this principle is that movements performed well will maximise results, but those performed without control could easily lead to injury. In Pilates, slow and steady definitely wins the race.
Principle Three: Concentration
Central to Pilates is the mind-body connection, and the key to coordinating mind and body is concentration. Through focus and becoming mindful of each movement, Pilates avers that you will receive optimum value from each movement. It certainly takes practice, but by staying aware of your form and what the rest of your body is doing, the benefits accrued are maximised.
Principle Four: Precision
Related to the principle of control, correct form is essential to ensure you keep your body healthy and maximise gains. Executing one repetition with deliberate exactitude is much more important than completing many more repetitions with poor form. As such, a Pilates instructor should always provide plenty of detailed instruction during a class, along with easier modifications to the exercises.
Principle Five: Breathing
Breathing is integral to each exercise, with each breath being coordinated with the movement. Rather than belly breathing, though, in Pilates you breathe laterally through the ribs, which allows the practitioner to more effectively engage the core, whilst also activating blood circulation and awakening cells and other surrounding muscles. According to Joseph Pilates, learning the art of breathing is perhaps the most important founding principle.
Principle Six: Flow
Underlying all other preceding principles is the principle of flow. With similarities to Yoga, routines are completed with continuous, smooth, and elegant movement as practitioners transition from one pose or exercise to another, helping to develop both strength and stamina.
Different Pilates Classes But Still The Same Principles
From Classical to Contemporary, Matwork to Reformer, and from Fletcher’s School of Thought to Winsor’s School of Thought, the principles remain largely consistent. Pilates continues to evolve with recent learnings in biomechanics and physiotherapy, but the body of work of its founder, Joseph Pilates, endures.
Here at Katie Bell Physiotherapy & Wellness, we have a huge number of different Pilates Classes each week — from Cardio Pilates to Barre Pilates. Although the focus might be slightly different in each class, we’re proud of having the finest instructors who are well versed in understanding and executing the principles of Pilates in a fun and personal way.
If you’re in Sheffield and looking for somewhere to start practicing Pilates, then make sure to book a free Pilates taster class online today.