A form of exercise that concentrates on achieving balance within the body, Pilates exercise classes are offered at a lot of Spas as one of their key classes.
Pilates exercise was first developed by Joseph Pilates during the First World War while he was interned in the UK as a German citizen. Joseph taught it to his fellow internees as a means of keeping physically fit while contained in a small space.
Pilates emigrated to America where he set up a studio in New York with his wife, Clara. Their studio became well known amongst top dancers and actors. Today while machines are sometimes used, it is possible to learn 'the method', as it is also known, while lying on a mat.
What are the benefits?
Part of the attraction of 'the method' is that it is a holistic approach that emphasises acheiving balance and harmony within the body. Pilates exercise claases will show you that rather than concentrating on building up bulk the idea is that you come to know your own body. The focus here is on inner strength rather than size.
It is very good for those suffering from chronic back ache as it greatly improves posture and habits of holding ourselves that may be damaging. By learning about your body, you can significantly increase flexibility, balance and grace of movement. This is why this form of exercise has proved particularly popular with dancers.
Pilates is starting to be used more and more by physiotherapists and osteopaths. This is due to it being a very safe form of exercise that is particularly good for those recovering from injuries because of the lack of jarring or strain that is put on the body.