What is Pilates?


What is Pilates? “It’s that new class where you stretch a lot, right?”

Not really. First off, Pilates has been around for almost 100 years. In the early 1900’s, a man by the name of Joseph Pilates developed a fitness routine that he believed benefitted the entire body. The routine was based around the notion that our core controls all of our well being, and if your core is strong- YOU are strong. The Pilates workout was used for several decades in private studios, until a trainer attempted to trademark the program. After a long legal battle, in 2001, the courts ruled that the name Pilates was generic and available to all- which is when the term began gaining attention in gyms and classes around the world.  Prior to this, classes based on Pilates foundations were being offered publicly under different names.

So, Pilates has been around a long time- but what IS it.

Imagine if someone drew a box around your upper body, this box encompasses everything from your shoulders to your hips. This is your core and what is referred to as the Pilates Box.  Every muscle  that runs up and down, sideways and diagonal inside this box is subject to strengthening and balancing  exercises in a Pilates workout. Each muscle group is worked individually, collectively, and equally to create a sense of balance.  Pilates is about strength.

There are Several Principles of Pilates:

Awareness: Being present with your mind AND your body, working through your fitness routine with all of your senses aware of the movements you are making. The goal is that this awareness follows you as you leave class and that you become more aware of your movements and posture throughout the rest of your day.

Balance: Balance of your whole mind, body, and spirit. This is where the Pilates Box becomes important. Over or under-working a particular muscle group is believed to create an imbalance- so all groups are worked.

Breath: Joseph Pilates is credited with saying that “Breath is our first act of life, and our last.” Breath is also the action that allows us to keep living; no breathing- no life. You can go so far as to say that breath IS life. Breath is linked into each of the Pilates movements- and not shallow breaths- but full, comfortable breaths that flood your body with oxygen and energy.

Concentration: As you move through a Pilates practice, being fully aware of your movements, you will be concentrating on the effort and action of each movement.  This helps you to perform your routine in a controlled and balanced way, deepening your awareness of the movement, and obtaining the best results for you.

Centering/Stabilization: “Center” can mean so many things- it can refer to the center line of your body (midline), it can be your center of gravity, or your center as the basis for your well-being. In Pilates, Centering means initiating movement from a stable source.  Participants integrate the three- centering your mind and persona, finding and working with your center of gravity (this is different for men and women and can vary from person to person), and working your body center.  Pilates movements are initiated from the Center in a controlled and balanced manner.

Control: Learning to control your body is an essential skill in any fitness routine, especially so in Pilates. The control of your body is a conscious process. One of the reasons that dancers and gymnasts are so graceful and beautiful in their movements is because they have learned complete control over their bodies. This learned body control is one of the reasons that the Pilates workouts have enjoyed such popularity in the dance/gymnast communities.  Control is paying full attention to all the details of the movement, so you can gain the most benefit.

Precision/Flow: There is no wasted energy or movement in a Pilates practice. Each movement is performed in a way that integrates as many core muscles as possible in a precise and intentional manner and flows from one exercise to the next.

Here at CBRC, we have three ways to engage in Pilates practice.

Mat classes are the most popular way and universal way to practice Pilates. Mat classes work the entire Pilates box, and add additional emphasis to upper and lower body strength. All the movements are performed with the above Pilates principles in mind.  Classes use body weight resistance and several Pilates tools such as the Magic Circle, Therabands, and rollers.

Pilates Reformer group classes use the Reformer as a resistance apparatus. The Reformer was invented by Joseph Pilates as a means for providing a strength workout, working both the upper and lower body, as well as cardio, with no stress on the spine or vertebrae.

CBRC also offers individual Pilates training on four other Pilates apparatuses- the Ladder Barrel, the Wunda Chair, the High Chair, and the Cadillac.

You can find more information about our Pilates classes on our website. Make sure to check back next week to see our post on Pilates and back injuries.

Until then, We Wish You Good Health,

~Columbia Basin Racquet Club




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