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Pilates Method

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The Pilates Method evolved from Joseph Pilates' technique of Contrology, or The Art of Control. He recognized that the motor functions of the brain controlled the mobility of the body. At that time there was very little emphasis on exercises melding the precision of the mind with the anatomical integrity of the muscles. His view of fitness took into consideration the importance of the body working as a healthy unit. He formulated a regimen that emphasized the development of the body in a uniform manner, correcting improper posture while invigorating the mind and elevating the spirit.

"Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.
Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control
of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises
you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and
coordination associated with all your subconscious activities."

While the Pilates Method is effectively toning muscles, it is simultaneously working to produce a unity of body and mind. Pilates further described the goal of Contrology as;

“... the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with
a sound mind and the ability to perform life's daily activities with
zest and ease."

In explaining Contrology's guiding principle, Pilates liked to quote Schiller;

“lt is the mind itself which builds the body.”

Most of the hundreds of exercises he developed involve a recumbent position which allows you to exercise without strain to the heart and take advantage of a more natural, relaxed positioning of the internal organs. In its simplest form, the method only demands that you be able to move, even if only in the most restricted sense. Committing yourself to execute what you can, the exercising the majority of your muscles eventually aids in uniformly developing all of the muscles. Developing minor muscles naturally helps to strengthen major muscles.

Joseph Pilates

The discipline focuses on the muscles which are considered to be the linchpin of good posture. These layers of muscles form the support structure for the spine and pelvis, what Pilates referred to as the "Powerhouse." The Pilates Method focuses on the Powerhouse in order to strengthen muscles which have either been misused or not used at all.

Pilates didn't believe in what he called "unnatural exercise" - forcing the body into strained postures or pushing it to repeat the same motions over and over again to the point of exhaustion. His goal was mental and physical harmony: the realization of each person's physical capabilities and the correction of imbalances and weaknesses. One of his most often cited quotations emphasizes quality over quantity and the efficiency of movement;

"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a
balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics
or forced contortion."

The Pilates Method emphasizes that the position and movement of every part of your body is interrelated and important. Concentrating on your whole body at once as it performs complicated movements is a formidable challenge, but it is a skill that will grow a step at a time. A skill that once developed is a most valuable resource - an aid to both work and relaxation and the key to an effortless fusion of mind and body.

"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our
interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance
of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally,
easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks
with spontaneous zest and pleasure."

It is truly an all encompassing technique that can be employed by anyone who wishes to move with more power, grace and less trauma to their body. Pilates builds strong bodies and increases the body's resilience to debilitating effects of age.

"The science of Contrology disproves that prevalent and
all-too-trite saying; ‘You're only as old as you feel.’ The art
of Contrology proves that the only real guide to your true age lies
not in years or how you THINK you feel but as you ACTUALLY are
as infallibly indicated by the degree of natural and normalflexibility
enjoyed by your spine throughout life."

"...our prime of life should be in the 70's and old age should not
come until we are almost 100."

sections excerpted from:
"Pilates' Return to Life through Contrology" William Miller, Joseph Pilates

"Pilates Method of Body Conditioning" Sean P. Gallagher, Romana Kryzanowska
"The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning" Philip Friedman, Gail Eisen

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