Hi Kristi. I'm looking into starting a new exercise program, and I've been hearing a lot about pilates, but I don't really know what it is. Can you please explain what it is and what health/fitness benefits it offers?

Pilates was originally developed by German-born Joseph Pilates. His innovative system of mind-body exercises was developed originally as a way to rehabilitate bedridden patients to exercise against resistance enabling them to regain their strength. He removed the springs from their hospital beds to assist them as he developed techniques to increase their range of motion.

The discipline of Pilates is to teach you how to move your body. Proper body alignment and postural training are the fundamental basics of these exercises. They are done in a series either on the floor or with specialized equipment called a “Reformer”. The focus of the exercise is to increase core strength, enhance posture and prevent injury by building the body’s foundation. Ballet dancers were one of the first group of professionals to use the Pilates system to transform their bodies and increase strength without adding bulk.

It has made its way in the general fitness mainstream over the last several years and is now offered in health clubs and private studios all around the world. Pilates can be enjoyed by anyone, young or old, but it is important to work with a trained professional to make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.

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