In his own words, from his book Return to Life Through Contrology:
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.”
“A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.”
“The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors…, and it is only through Contrology that this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can ever be attained.”
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
“Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it.”
“The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.”
Mr. Pilates believed that the mind and the body are two aspects of health that are interrelated and that each depends upon the other’s well-being. This evolved philosophy of mind/body fitness is what guided him to develop his program of specific and controlled exercises that stimulate the mind and the body, using the mind to control the muscles. “Ideally, our muscles should obey our will,” he said. Pilates firmly believed in the power of positive thought creating positive results, saying “it is the mind itself which shapes the body.” With this emphasis on positive thinking, mental focus and concentration, it is a form of exercise that is suitable for everyone and results in a refreshed body and mind.
Pilates exercises were originally developed as a series of floor routines that demand balance, flexibility, strength, power, agility and acute mental focus in order to execute them correctly. Later, Mr. Pilates took his program one step further by combining his engineering skills with his knowledge of health and anatomy to design specialized exercise apparatus using springs, pulleys and movable platforms to create variable-resistance workout routines. There are over 500 different exercises performed either on a mat or on various apparatus.
The Pilates method of physical and mental conditioning exercise has revolutionized the fitness industry with the concept of strengthening the core, the center muscle groups that girdle the abdomen, back and pelvis, referred to as the “Powerhouse.” Practicing these exercises promotes increased metabolism, enhanced respiratory and circulatory function, it improves bone density, muscle tone and flexibility, and it can help you to “get centered” and calm your nerves. Pilates exercises balance out muscular asymmetries, streamlines your silhouette, and improves your balance, coordination and breath control. The exercises work simultaneously to develop your muscular flexibility and strength.
You can also expect higher energy levels, increased coordination, balance, flexibility and strength. The Pilates method of exercise is a functional fitness program that will improve your body awareness and promote more graceful and efficient movement patterns. With the Pilates approach to a more balanced body, mind and spirit it isn’t necessary to do endless repetitions of mindless, exhausting exercises to achieve spectacular results. The focus is not so much about what you do, but rather it is more about how you do what you do. You are not likely to experience undue muscle strain and there is little risk of injury.
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” Joseph Pilates