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What is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of core body conditioning which focuses on stretching and strengthening exercises. Pilates was developed over 90 years ago by Joseph Pilates in hopes to create a balance of a healthy mind and body. The main goal of Pilates is to let improve core strength, posture, flexibility, balance and to create long, lean muscles. In order to achieve this we must focus on our smaller muscle groups and concentrate on integrating the body as a whole.

Who was Joseph Pilates?

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880 and suffered from rickets and asthma as a child. To overcome his frailties, Joseph dedicated his life to becoming physically stronger. Joseph designed a total body conditioning system that his used for rehabilitation for patients in World War 1. Joseph designed exercise apparatus’s that he used for immobilized patients by attaching springs to hospital beds. No sooner did Joseph’s techniques become a success he moved to New York City in 1926 where he opened the first Pilates studio.

Pilates Principles:

1. Concentration: engage your mind in what you’re doing
2. Control: mind/body connection that guarantees graceful movement
3. Centering: working from a strong core
4. Breathing: Breathing into the rib cage
5. Postural Alignment: being aware of your body in space
6. Flow: Moving slowly and gracefully
7. Precision: Moving with exact accurate body strokes
8. Stamina: Introducing the element of intensity
9. Relaxation: Learning to release the body and not to overwork it
10. Act locally and think globally

Pilates Advantages:

Stronger core (spinal stabilizers and abdominals)
Increased mobility in the spine, hips and shoulders
Increased flexibility in the spine, hips and shoulders
Improves Posture
Improves Balance
Improves concentration and coordination
Improves body awareness
Improves Circulation
Creates longer and leaner muscles
Relieves tension and stress
Personalized programs for everyone from rehab to elite athletes

Sample Exercises:

1. Perfect Abdominal Curl
2. Hundreds
3. Roll up
4. Spine Stretch Forward
5. Single Leg Circles
6. The Saw
7. Rolling like a ball
8. Single Leg Stretch
9. Double Leg Stretch
10. Swan Prep

1. Perfect Abdominal Curl (PAC)

Lying on your back with knees bent with feet flat on the floor.
Inhale to prepare, Exhale nod the chin towards the chest and slowly curl up.
Inhale hold, exhale roll down and release.

2. Hundreds

Lying down on your back with knees bent at ninety degrees (above the hips). Nod the chin toward the chest (if no head tension)
Pumping the arms for 5 counts, inhale through the nose for 5 quick counts and exhale through the nose for 5 counts. Make sure that you coordinate arm pumping and breathing

Think of your lungs as a balloon, expanding and deflating

3. Roll-up

Lying down on the floor with legs fully extended and arms over head. Inhale to prepare, exhale lift the arms over the head and once you can see the arms, exhale and begin to lift your spine up off the floor one vertebrae at a time and reach for your toes. Inhale sitting up tall, exhale roll down one vertebrae at a time

Imagine your spine as a string of pearls gently stacking on each other one, by one.

4. Spine Stretch Forward

Sitting upright directly over the hips with legs together and toes flexed up toward the ceiling. Inhale grow taller and exhale slowly begin to flex at the hips as you round your back forward in the shape of a C, letting your head fall to the chest. Inhale hold, exhale slowly restack the spine one vertebrae at a time.

Think of your spine curling in the shape of a C and then being pulled vertical toward the ceiling by a piece of string

5. Single Leg Circles

Lying down on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg up and extend it up toward the ceiling. Inhale as you draw half the circle and exhale as you complete the other half. Reverse direction and repeat on opposite leg.

Imagine your leg as a paint brush painting the same circles over and over!

6. The Saw

Sitting upright with legs fully extended and slightly wider than shoulders. Toes flexed up toward the ceiling and arms extended out to the sides at should height. Inhale to prepare, exhale rotate the torso to the right and try to line up your left pinky finger with right big toe. Inhale back to center and exhale rotate to the left while lining up right pinky finger with left big toe.

Rotate your torso as if you are going to saw off your big toe with your pinky finger

7. Rolling Like a Ball

Sitting in a crouched position. Hands rest on knees. Inhale to prepare and exhale tuck the head into the knees and slowly roll to floor and back up.

Imagine that you are a bubble and you don’t want to burst!

8. Single Leg Stretch

Lying on your back with both legs fully extended over hips. Right hand is on the outside of the right knee and the left hand is on the inside of the right knee. Inhale as you straighten the legs and exhale as you extend the right leg to the floor and continue by switching legs.

Think of your legs as scissors cutting in a perfectly straight line!

9. Double Leg Stretch

Lying on your back with hands and knees tucked into chest. Inhale to prepare, exhale fully extend the legs to the floor and arms overhead, extend arms along the sides of your body as if drawing snow angels, and bring knees and arms back into chest and repeat.

Imagine you are drawing snow angels in the snow!

10. Swan Prep

Lying on the stomach, hands forming a triangle. Inhale to prepare, exhale imagine rolling a marbke with the tip of your nose and slowly extend up, trying hard not to use the forearms. Inhale hold, exhale slowly lower down to the floor.

Imagine someone gently pulling you up by the back of the head