Pilates method: origin and benefits for the body

Well, it's true that this blog is all about bodybuilding. But that's not the only thing in life... You can practice many other sports activities at home and get excellent results. This is the case with the Pilates.

Let's talk a little about the history of this discipline. We will also see the difference with yoga, because some people confuse these 2 types of exercises. You will discover the benefits of this program for lose weight and tone up your muscles. Finally, we'll discuss the equipment needed and I'll show you an inexpensive video program to train at home.

Let's go !

Pilates Method : Origin and conflicts of interest

It is considered the number one fitness industry trend of the past 15 years. In the United States alone, over 11 million people practice Pilates, which is 20 % of all those who go to the gym.

Pilates is used to improve muscle tone (especially the abdominal muscles and back). Professional dancers use it to stay in shape before competitions and to speed up the recovery process. Physiotherapists also use it for rehabilitation.

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Its founder

This training program was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German-American who developed a series of exercises specifically for British soldiers undergoing rehabilitation during the First World War.

In 1926, he moved to New York and within a few years his technique became very popular among professional dancers. His first hall, created with his wife Clara, was located in the same building as the New York City Ballet on 8ème Avenue.

Interestingly, one of the patrons of this hall was George Balanchine, the father of American ballet, as you will read here.

Legal battles

In 1990, Sean Gallagher bought the training studio of Joseph Pilates, who had died 20 years earlier. He then founded the company Pilates, Inc, thus making the word Pilates a trademark. Then he tried to prohibit its free use.

He insisted on exclusive rights to the system and sought royalties for any use of the name. However, after several years of litigation, he lost and the brand name fell into the public domain.

What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?

Many fitness centers tend to combine yoga and Pilates classes with the same instructor. Although the techniques are different, they both develop strength, balance, flexibility, posture and proper breathing technique. Their approach emphasizes the link between physical and mental health

However, these two activities differ in their philosophy (yoga has deep energetic roots) as well as in the technique of execution. Yoga places more emphasis on relaxation and uses meditation. Pilates is practiced on both machines and mats, while yoga requires no equipment at all.

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It is based on special static poses called "asanas". The basis of Pilates, on the other hand, comes from Greco-Roman sports activities like wrestling and gymnastics. Its exercises are performed in a flow of movement without static poses. Breathing is emphasized in the exercise.

So of course, these 2 techniques are similar in many ways and can be complementary, but they do not have the same philosophy.


Which equipment for this method

pilates origin
Pilates coaching on specialized equipment

At the beginning of the last century, in England, Joseph Pilates developed the equipment to improve his rehabilitation system. At the time, it looked like a bed with movable structures and elastic straps. His program contained over 500 exercises, of which only 34 were done on a mat.

Today, it is possible to find improved versions of these "beds", for example the Allegro 2 Reformer, but the price is to disgust you of the life (more than 4200 euros in France).

Fortunately, other Pilates equipment is not expensive: mats, hoops, massage rollers, etc.

Mats or equipment for Pilates

It is true that a specialized machine allows you to perform a wide variety of exercises with additional resistance. But as you have just read, the prices are exorbitant, even for a gym.

This is why it is more common to practice Pilates on a yoga mat. You can also use a weight mat, but it will be less comfortable for some exercises.

This is the model I recommend for this type of program. I can speak about it because I own it myself. It has the advantage of being large, flexible and durable (lifetime warranty):

SquareFit - Extra Large Yoga Mat | 122x183cm thickness 8mm |...
  • YOUR HOME STUDIO IN ANY ROOM - Unroll your...
  • COMFORT AND OPTIMAL STABILITY - Designed from a...
  • UNIQUE DOUBLE-SIDED COATING - The top surface of the...

What are the benefits of Pilates?

There are many reports of its health benefits. However, few have been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny and more research is needed in this area.

Practitioners say that regular practice improves posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. Pilates also appears to relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, Pilates can complement training by developing full-body strength and flexibility and help reduce the risk of injury.

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Does Pilates make you lose weight?

Pilates is considered a muscle-strengthening activity, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Classes can vary in intensity, which means you can work gently or aggressively. Your workout can therefore be burn a lot of caloriesand thus promote the burning of body fat.

ALSO READ:  7 books and methods to lose weight and exercise at home

If you want to lose weight, it is advisable to combine Pilates with a healthy diet and certain aerobic activities, such as swimming, walking and elliptical.

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What muscles does Pilates work?

Let's be clear, this technique is not intended to help you gain a lot of muscle volume. It is not bodybuilding!

Here are the main muscles or muscle groups worked:

1. All the abdominal strap

Pilates is best known for strengthening the core of the body. This is called core training because it works the midsection of the body starting just below the rib cage to the hip joints in the front and the base of the buttocks in the back.

This includes your abdominals, your quadriceps and the many muscles that surround them. In other words, all the stabilizers of the trunk.

Your upper and lower abdominals support your upper body while protecting your internal organs. These muscles are like an internal belt that holds everything in place and acts as a shield. If they are weak, the organs can shift and are more vulnerable to injury.

A strong pelvic floor also prevents the organs from moving downward.

2. Hips and pelvis

Your hip flexors extend from your lower back up your legs. They work with the sacrum and tailbone to form the pelvic girdle, which acts as a support for your trunk.

When your core muscles are weak, they put extra stress on your pelvis and hips. The good news is that Pilates can go a long way in keeping your hip and pelvis in good shape by strengthening all the muscles in this area.

3. The back

Back pain is a problem that is constantly in the news, but much of it is preventable. With strong muscles protecting the spine and keeping it aligned, many back problems could be avoided.

Pilates also plays an important role in this area.

Underneath your anterior deltoids (the back of your shoulders) are two important small muscles called large round and small circle. Why are they important? Along with the lats, they help straighten the entire upper back and straighten the shoulders. This is very important to correct bad postures adopted during hours of office work.

4. The buttocks (large, medium and small buttocks)

The gluteal muscles are the most powerful muscles in the body. They are also extremely important in our daily activities and sports. Not only do they allow us to sit, walk, run, climb and jump, but they also serve as stabilizers.

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Many Pilates exercises that involve your legs and strengthen your core also work your glutes at the same time.

Who is Pilates for?

This physical preparation technique has something to offer people of all ages and levels. It is perfect for beginners and people with certain medical conditions. But make no mistake, Pilates can also be a real challenge for the more athletic.

Because it is a low-impact form of exercise, injuries are rare. However, you should start with your current level of fitness and ability.

If you have any health problems or injuries, you should seek advice from your general practitioner or other health care professional. In any case, this advice is valid before starting any exercise program when you have a medical history.

Which Pilates program to use at home

To be 100 % honest with you, I only know of one good program that holds up and is affordable in French. It's called Pilates 123 (read "un deux trois"). It was created by Madelaine Kahts, coach for over 11 years.

If, like me, you like to work out at home, this program followed by over 9500 people is perfect. Here is an excerpt from one of the 3 long exercise videos provided (the one devoted to level 2 abs):

The Pilates 123 program contains:

  • Video 1: Basic training
  • Video 2: Special ab workout
  • Video 3: Advanced training
  • Practical reference guide : over 170 illustrated pages
  • 35 musical titles: 4 hours of relaxation music to accompany your sessions

Right now, the set is sold with 50 % discount. I don't want to hide anything: If you buy it with my link, I get a small commission. But I wouldn't offer it to you if I thought it was a bad product.

If you want to try Pilates, it's a very good training and you have 60 days to ask them for a full refund if you don't like it. So, if you want to know more or test the method without risk, click on this button:

Conclusion on the Pilates program

This type of training, which has little impact on the joints, is phenomenally successful. Its ability to help beginners get back into shape as well as athletes push their limits is not for nothing.

Whether you are a fan of Pilates or not, leave a comment below to give your opinion. What do you think are the pros and cons of this method?

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Last update on 2022-11-04 / Affiliate links / Some images are from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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