What is Pilates and Why you Should do it

Many people think that Pilates is a recent fad. However, it originated from a man called Joseph Pilates who was born in 1880 in Germany.Pilates exercise prone Wanaka

Pilates observed that by drawing in our lower abdominal muscles when exercising we create what he called ‘the powerhouse’ – a strong centre.  With a strong ‘powerhouse’ we could then ‘return to life’ and become fit and healthy. More recently, physiotherapy research has proven the link between the same abdominal muscles with which Pilates worked (particularly the transversus abdominis) and back health.

Joseph’s Story

As a child Pilates suffered from Asthma, Rickets and Rheumatic fever. This prompted him to study exercise extensively and to become a competent athlete. He then moved to England in 1912 where he earned a living as a boxer, circus performer, and self-defence trainer for the police force.

During World War One, Pilates was interned with other German nationals in England. Whilst he was interned, he became a nurse.  During this time he designed exercise apparatus for immobilised patients by attaching springs to hospital beds (hence the appearance of the trapeze table).

He then returned to Germany for a time before emmigrating to New York in 1925. Once in America he opened a studio in New York, in 1926, to teach fitness programmes and share his knowledge.  Pilates’ studio soon became popular with the dancers as it offered them a chance to recover from injuries and improve and strengthen their performance.

Pilates Today

As Pilates chose not to set down a specific training programme, his pupils went on to contribute their own experiences in their teaching, around the basic principles and method. Therefore, no two teachers teach in the same way.  Teachers around the world have expanded and modified the original set of 34 exercises.  However, the basic focus on strengthening and stretching the body remains an essential part of all training.

Pilates is a great form of exercise for people of all ages wanting to increase their body awareness and conditioning.  Physiotherapists use it extensively to help their patients recover from injuries as well as being used to enhance sports performance in athletes.


Benefits of Pilates include:Pilates men Wanaka

  • A stronger centre and lumbo-pelvic stability
  • Improved breathing patterns
  • Improved muscle tone, length and strength
  • Greater flexibility and mobility, especially of the spine
  • Improved body awareness and postural alignment
  • Improved quality of movement and fine motor control
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Improved balance




There are usually many ways to make a Pilates exercise easier or more difficult.  So clients of all abilities can have exercises adapted to their needs.  Ideally there should be small numbers in a class so that the instructor can ensure good technique.  At Central Lakes Physio the maximum number of clients in a studio class is 4 and the maximum in a mat class is 8.

If you think that Pilates could benefit you (which it probably could!) then give us a call to find out more or have a look at our timetable by clicking here.

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