What is Pilates?

By: Karen Lewis, PT, MPT

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates exercise, had a long history of childhood illnesses which drove him to commit his life to improving health and fitness. Joe’s skills in fitness training led him to work with the disabled to regain strength and muscle control during confinement in a camp during World War I. He developed a system of pulleys, springs and straps that were attached to hospital beds. These beds are the basis of present day Pilates equipment.

Pilates exercise is designed for use in all populations.  It is a low impact exercise, based on natural movements and all exercises can be modified to fit current fitness level or type of injury. Pilates is a resistance program which utilizes straps and springs, or the muscles are utilized to act as springs without the aid of a machine. Pilates is an efficient way to work out because balancing, lengthening and strengthening the muscles are components in each exercise. Pilates develops muscle groups uniformly and corrects muscular imbalances which are developed by poor posture and sport specific training. Pilates promotes healthy breathing, circulation and healthy bones and joints.

The “core” is the emphasis in Pilates exercise.  This is the area between the lower ribs and the hips and was referred to as the “Powerhouse” by Joseph Pilates. This is the center of the body from which all Pilates movements proceed and if properly developed, it provides stability and coordination of movements of the arms and legs. In turn, this improves posture and balance. Proper strengthening of the core decompresses the spine and acts as a natural corset which can lead to reduced back, hip and knee pain. 

Blue Sky Physical Therapy utilizes Pilates in their patients’ rehabilitation programs and also offers Pilates for wellness.  Classes are performed on state-of-the-art Pilates equipment and are limited to six clients per class.  Many patients transition into classes post-rehab, but there are also many people living or working in the Denver area who take classes at Blue Sky. Each Blue Sky Pilates instructor has completed a nationally certified Pilates program.  All of our instructors are also licensed physical therapists.  Each client will feel safe and confident to perform Pilates under the watchful eye of our highly trained team.  Our instructors have the expertise and knowledge to modify any exercise to accommodate for physical limitation and to avoid injury or re-injury.

Sources:

Alpers, Amy Taylor and Rachel Taylor Siegel. The Everything Pilates Book. F&W Productions, Inc. 2002.

Bean, Mark, Ph.D. “History and Practices of Pilates.” ACSM’s Certified News. September, 2002. Page 6.

Isacowitz, Rael and Karen Clippenger. Pilates Anatomy. Human Kinetics. 2011.