What is Pilates?

Pilates (puh-LAH-teez) is a system of strengthening and lengthening exercises designed to develop the body's core, mobilize the spine, and build flexibility. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s. As a young man, Joseph became interested in physical fitness and opened a gym in his native Germany. At the beginning of the Second World War, Joseph fled to England. As with other Germans during the war, Joseph was interned at the Isle of Man. While interned, he utilized available materials of springs, ropes, pulleys, wheels and wood to create exercise equipment. Borrowing concepts from martial arts and yoga, Joseph developed a series of exercises and workouts that focused on centralized movement, balance and strengthening. After the war, Joseph and his wife Clare moved to New York City and opened a gymnasium where Joseph used his apparatus and exercise concepts to train New Yorkers. The dance community (NY Ballet) discovered the Pilates method and was immediately drawn to its combined emphasis on movement, strength and flexibility.

Over the last 70 years Pilates has evolved significantly. It is no longer an exercise method limited to elite dancers. Over the past decade, Pilates has moved into the mainstream.

Why Pilates?

Physical therapists look at exercise as it relates to function. Many exercise machines that are “safe” move the body at right angles in artificial environments; however, people do not move at right angles in life. A muscle can be large without being functionally strong, and Patricia Sitton Physical Therapy’s goal is to optimize each client’s potential with safe and functional exercise. Pilates method initiates movement from the intrinsic “core.” The “core” consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. Once the core can be controlled, there is a stable base for limbs to move. Pilates emphasizes elongation as well as contraction of muscle, giving joints space and training muscle balance while strengthening.

What's in a Pilates Session?

Sessions can be private or in a small group and typically last one hour. Usually a combination of floor/mat and apparatus are used in each session. Apparatus include the Reformer, the Cadillac (aka the Trapeze), the Wunda Chair and other pieces of equipment. A unique component of Pilates is that no two sessions are alike and sessions are customized to meet individual goals.

Benefits of Pilates:

The benefits of Pilates include: increased body awareness and body control, a stronger core, greater flexibility, and enhanced overall strength and performance.

With benefits extening beyond the hour-long session, Pilates trains the mind to build symmetry and body coordination and changes your shape by educating you in daily life. The lessons are brought home to pull your stomach in and to pull your shoulders down. There is an attention required that changes your awareness well after your session is complete. For instance, when you are cooking, brushing your teeth, driving, playing with your kids and playing in your life, Pilates lessons are at work.

Who can do Pilates?

Almost everyone can benefit from Pilates. It is an exercise method suited for people of all fitness levels and of all ages. Pilates is not just for dancers and movie stars and women who only want to look good in their swimsuits.

* Insurance reimbursement for Pilates is available.

For more information on Pilates or to schedule a free consultation, Please contact us. Phone: 415-601-1145; or send us an email.

Patricia Sitton Physical Therapy is located in Laguna Beach and serves the communities of Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Laguna Woods, Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Dana Point.