The Pilates Method

The Origins of Pilates
The Pilates Method is a system of mental and physical conditioning that promotes muscle balance, symmetry, trunk stabilisation and improved posture. It is a whole body workout where the emphasis is not on the performance of the movement, but on the behaviour of the rest of the body while the movement is being performed.

The Pilates Principles as outlined by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen in The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning* (1980) are as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. They are:
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centring
  • Breathing
  • Precision
  • Flowing Movement

An advanced Pilates exercise

These principles relate to how one does the exercise. Attention should be paid to posture, joint stability, muscle recruitment patterns and controlled rhythmic movement. For many exercises, this involves maintaining ‘natural' spinal curves and pelvic placement. For other exercises, it involves preventing movement in a direction other than intended for the correct execution of the exercise.

These principles are instrumental for the development of co-ordinated movement supported by rhythmic breathing through the achievement of greater body awareness.

The Pilates Method is suitable for young adults through to the older person. It is useful in injury rehabilitation programs and is complementary to aerobics, gym work and sports training.


*Philip Friedman, Gail Eisen. The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning. New York: Doubleday & Co. Inc., 1980.