Introduction to Pilates – ‘Classical’ and ‘Modified’

“What’s Pilates? – well, basically, it looks easy, but it isn’t.”

This is the best quick descrption of Pilates I have heard, but there are more details about it which are helpful to know!

Pilates is a concept, which started with the work of Joseph Pilates and has become a worldwide phenomenon. It is basically a system of exercises focussing on tummy strength and whole body mobility, strength and co-ordination.

It was initially used by Joseph Pilates to treat injured soldiers, then dancers and sportspeople and then the general population.

These original exercises are still taught widely, although many other types of Pilates have evolved from them – thus, the original exercises are now known as ‘Classical Pilates’.

Since Joseph Pilates’ time, science and research has shown that a lot of the work that he did was good, in terms of the tummy muscles being important to stabilise the spine and that co-ordinating tummy muscle work with patterns of movement of the body, arms and legs in different positions has a whole body effect, and can help with posture, alignment and control- ultimately helping you move better.

However, getting the core muscles to recruit properly in the first place can take a fair bit of time, body awareness and practice, and not only that, but when you look at ‘tummy muscles’ more closely, we have realised that there are different layers of muscles, all with different functions.  See this blog post – looking deeper. So its important that these core muscles do the right job, at the right time.

The Australian Physiotherapy Pilates Institute – APPI – have developed the original ‘classical’ Pilates concept, and adapted it to more recent knowledge and research – The exercises break down movement in a detailed way, and allow you to slowly integrate the deep tummy muscle function with the movement patterns required to support the spine and pelvis, and focus in detail on the correct alignment of the body which will support this.

Step by step, the tummy muscles are activated, and strengthened in less challenging positions – lying down on the mat, basically. Then you move on to increasing the difficulty of the positions and integrating the more superficial ‘6-pack muscles’. The important thing with this modified type of Pilates is that you progress when you are ready, and there are ‘levels ‘ of difficulty to each exercise, so you can be working on the same muscle pattern at whichever ‘level’ suits you.  If you progress too quickly, you might find that you are using the ‘wrong’ muscles – or, the muscles which are not most efficient to use. So its safer, more gentle and suitable for anyone!

And its why I’m always on hand to help you out!

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