In several major parts of the United States and Europe, Pilates, it appears that new form of exercise, has gained enormous popularity. So much so that many of today's hard-core physical fitness buffs are putting away their steps and weights in search of something new. Although still relatively new to the world of fitness, the technique – named after its founder Joseph Pilates – has been around for around 7 decades.
The Pilates technique is based on right breathing, good posture and deep concentration, the exercises either performed on a mat or with specially designed equipment. Stressing on breathing and support from within the abdomen, the practitioner cultivates a new way of standing and a more graceful way of moving.
By learning the correct stance and right body alignment, the Pilates practitioner quickly feels and looks taller and leaner. His muscles are stretched and strengthened uniformly resulting in long, sleek muscles instead of bulk. Not surprisingly, this is contrary to the methods of most of today's fitness professionals who are of the opinion that the only way to "tone" muscle is by increasing muscle diameter. However, the practitioner’s of Pilates swear by this technique and have even confessed to feeling taller, leaner and "better" after just a few sessions. A lot of them strongly aver that even where previous forms of exercise failed, this course succeeded in helping them achieve the body they always craved and longed for.
There are, totally, 5 pieces of Pilates equipment or apparatus used. They are:
Repetitions on the Pilates equipment are minimal while the intensity and concentration is high. While the abdomen and buttocks do all the squeezing, the legs and arms are stretched to their fullest limits. Every piece of equipment is fitting for a large number of exercises for almost every part of the body.
Pilates studios are opening up all over Europe and the US. At the moment there should be around 500 studios in the US alone. Official Pilates instructors have to complete an exacting training program that includes more than 600 apprenticeship hours before they can obtain their certification. Classes are either offered in groups or as part of private sessions.
People of all colors, castes, creeds, ages and physical conditions can profit from the prescribed technique. Pilates is also a great system of preventing injury – particularly for dancers and athletes who often suffer injuries and are dependent on their body for a living. So much so that even a number of physical therapists are nowadays integrating some of the exercises into their treatment techniques.