What is Pilates?
Pilates is named after Joe Pilates, its inventor. German by birth, he moved to New York in the 1920s and set up an exercise studio. His clients were in the main dancers, specifically the New York Ballet, and much of his original repertoire was very challenging. The Pilates Institute modified the 15 movements based on research done in New Zealand – ‘Therapeutic Exercise for Spinal Segmental Stabilization in Low Back Pain’ (Richardson, Jull, Hodges and Hides, 1999). This approach ensures that the muscles and fascia supporting the lower back are reprogrammed to act as stabilizers rather than movers.
The Pilates class is a programme of movement that increases stability and mobility in the spine, particularly the lumbar area (lower back). The body’s stabilizing muscles gain strength thereby improving posture and spine alignment in every day life. Working with a long spine the movements are slow, precise, fluid and isolated. Concentration, breath and centering also give this training a mind/body connection.
The classes themselves are small (numbers limited to six) to ensure clients receive sufficient hands-on correction to avoid “cheating”. The movements are low level and precise to encourage the deep stabilizing system to engage. Sarah’s focus is on the fascial “net”, rather than individual muscles. This means that posture is “unlocked” not built; that the body moves with one purpose and not in opposition to itself – fluid, stable, whole body movement.
The classes run continuously in blocks of six, and Sarah usually coincides holidays with the local schools’ half term, Christmas and Easter breaks. The exception is the summer holiday, where the classes continue to run.
Pilates is suitable for any level of fitness. If there are any underlying medical conditions please consult your GP and speak to your instructor before commencing.