If you’ve never heard of Pilates…
Here’s a brief summary of what everyone is talking about. Joseph H. Pilates was born in Germany in 1880; he died in New York in 1967. He developed a fitness regime bearing his name, and successfully used it to overcome his disabilities as a frail and sickly child. Pilates devised a series of controlled movements that engage the mind and body in developing strong, flexible muscles, without building bulk. Emphasis was placed on developing deep torso strength and flexibility known as “centering” to ensure proper posture and reduced risk of injury. The lithe musculature and ease of movement possessed by a cat was an image he used to illustrate the technique’s objectives. The Pilates method places a lot of emphasis on correct posture and technique, and doesn’t rely upon high numbers of repetitive exercises.The pilates method of exercise has been very popular with dancers since the 1940s but it is now becoming much better known. Today his followers include dancers, athletes, physiotherapists, fitness trainers, health care providers and other professionals who appreciate the significant role exercise plays in restoring and maintaining good health.
The progressive approach to Pilates exercise, known as STOTT PILATES®, builds on the essence and principles of the late Joseph H. Pilates’ work by incorporating modern knowledge about the body. President and CEO, Lindsay G. Merrithew, along with Executive Director, Education, Moira Merrithew have spent more than two decades collaborating with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and exercise professionals refining the Pilates method to include modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation to result in STOTT PILATES – the contemporary approach to the teachings of Joseph Pilates.
The STOTT PILATES Method of exercise involves more initial pelvic and shoulder girdle stabilization exercises than were present in the original method. As well, the anatomically-based concepts of “neutral” spine and pelvis are incorporated to help restore the natural curves of the spine a departure from the original technique and other forms of fitness that incorporate a “pelvic tilt” to flatten the back.
STOTT PILATES exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints. This involves placing more emphasis on pelvic and scapular stabilization, and integration of all the parts of the body into one. As well, preparatory exercises and modifications allow the technique to be appropriate for many different body types and abilities, making it applicable to sport-specific training and everyday life.
One of the safest and most effective exercise programs available, STOTT PILATES® comprises hundreds of exercises, which allow workouts to be customized to meet participants’ individual needs. The neuro-muscular technique tones and lengthens muscles, increases abdominal and back strength, improves posture and body mechanics, reduces joint and lower back stress, balances flexibility with strength, and reduces stress and tension. The smooth, almost dance-like motions and an emphasis on proper breathing leave participants feeling refreshed rather than exhausted.
Technique is extremely important and even experienced users of the method require a trainer to assist them through their workout. (In our studio, one-on-one instruction is by far the most popular type of workout and one that we recommend highly.).
The Five Basic Principles
The following Five Basic Principles form the foundation of the method from which our education and all of our programming is developed. Whether performed on a mat or on specialized equipment, application of the following biomechanical principles will ensure the realization of maximum benefits from Pilates exercises:
- Pelvic placement
- Rib cage placement
- Scapular movement
- Head & cervical spine placement