What is Pilates? A Beginner’s Guide

Pilates is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates. It is practiced worldwide, especially in countries such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Globally, there are about 11 million people practicing Pilates on a regular basis. To discover why this form of exercise has become so popular, read this article to know what is Pilates.

History of Pilates

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates from Germany. His father was a gymnast while his mother is a naturopath. During the first half of the 20th century, Pilates developed an exercise system to strengthen the mind and body. He believed that physical and mental health are interconnected.

The inspiration for his method came during World War I, while he was being held at an internment camp. For four years he developed his method there, working with his fellow internees.

His method was accompanied by a variety of equipment (or apparatus). The best-known apparatus is the Reformer. Eventually, Pilates designed others, such as the Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Spine Corrector, and Ladder Barrel. Each apparatus was designed to accelerate the process of stretching, body alignment, and strengthening.

What is Pilates?

Women Doing PilatesPilates moves may look simple, but they require a lot of control and precision. There is a strong emphasis on technique. You can do Pilates on a mat, either at home or in a class. Or you can go to a studio or gym that has special equipment and a trainer who can supervise you.

If you want to maintain good posture and strengthen your abdomen and pelvis, then this exercise may be good for you. In some ways it’s like yoga, but with a more intense core workout. Pilates works primarily on your core, which includes the abdominal area and the spinal area. Other areas of the body that are toned and strengthened through Pilates include the legs, upper thighs, and buttocks.

Similar to yoga, Pilates focuses on posture, balance, and flexibility. It also highlights the connection between the mind and body. You’ll be aware of your breathing as well as the way your body moves.

Health Benefits of Pilates

Good posture

Pilates can help you achieve and maintain good posture. The exercises require your body to be always in alignment. This can be beneficial if you have lower back pain.

Muscle tone

After the initial soreness, you will find that your muscles will become more toned. Because muscle tone can be lost with inactivity, this form of exercise is good for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.


Woman Doing Pilates on a MatAs we age, we tend to lose our flexibility. Pilates will help restore it, slowly but surely. After a while, you will be amazed at how more flexible your body has become.

Improves balance

Through the mind-body connection taught in Pilates, you’ll become more aware of how your body moves. Pilates not only improves physical balance through proper posture, but also promotes mind-body balance.

Reduces stress

Group of People Doing PilatesWhen doing Pilates, you’ll be totally focused and won’t be able to think about the stressors that weigh you down. You’ll concentrate on your breathing and the moves you’re making with your body. It is an effective way to relieve stress.


Pilates is NOT suitable for you if you have the following conditions:

  • Unstable blood pressure
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Herniated disk(s)
  • Risk of blood clots

Also, before trying Pilates, check with your doctor if you have not exercised for a while, are older, pregnant, or have health problems.


After knowing what is Pilates, you now have a better understanding of this form of exercise. Bear in mind that although Pilates provides some health benefits, it is not considered as an aerobic exercise. If you want to lose weight, you should combine Pilates with a healthy diet and a fitness program that will help you burn calories and tone/build muscle, such as FITin56.

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