‘Pilates’ is named after Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in the late 19th century. However, it was not called Pilates until after his death in 1967. Before this, it was called ‘Contrology’, the name itself explains a little more. Contrology is a sequence of controlled prescriptive exercises using complete coordination of the body, mind and spirit. Joseph was fascinated by the anatomy, movement and rhythm of wild animals and domestic pets he was also cognisant of his own physical appearance, strengths and weaknesses. It is with this extraordinary innovative understanding and learning he introduced an exercise programme which is, more poignant in the 21st century (with today’s sedentary lifestyle) than is was in the early 20th century when he designed it! And now over 100 years on, Pilates is respected and recommended by leading medical professionals for rehabilitation and enhancement of the body’s performance and functionality.
Pilates incorporates six original principles: Breathing, Centring, Concentration, Control, Precision and Flow. If you relate this to a game of football (or any sport) I’m sure you agree it hits the nail on the head!
Breathing: Joseph Pilates said ‘breathing is the first act of life, and the last . . . above all, learn to breathe correctly.’ Using the correct breath with movement (exercise) it will focus the mind, connect the deep abdominal muscles (diaphragm and pelvic floor) and enhance performance.
Centring: This is to exercise your abdomen, low back and pelvis and is essential to provide strong, stable and efficient functionally.
Concentration: Focus your mind and body on exact movement, how you move, where you will move.
Control: Execute every movement with control. By controlling your movement your performance will improve.
Precision: Be precise, it is by working on the minute detail that improvement will be achieved
Flow: With reference to the fluidity and beauty of movement of wild animals, flow will enhance the cohesive, seamless, articulation of movement.
Now with this in mind what sports or activities do you think would benefit from Pilates? Football, Rugby, Golf, Running to name but a few. At home and in your professional life, office workers, nurses/doctors/carers, hairdressers, shop/bar workers, builders and gardeners would all benefit from Pilates.
Today, Pilates is very popular with woman, but we still see very few men. There has been an increase in the number of men attending classes however I feel we still have some way to go before the stigma of ‘Pilates is for girls’ is changed. It is also perceived as an easy workout; this is not so. When you have mastered the essential exercises, the intermediate and advance options would challenge the strongest elite athlete, sportsman or individual.
The fundamental benefits of Pilates should surpass any gender stigma and be celebrated by both men and women. Pilates will harmonise the body, stimulate the mind and lift the spirit. So come on boys, what have you to lose?
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