What pilates is and why you should take a class:
Joseph Pilates invented a series of exercises specifically to engage and strengthen core muscles which support the body in the its function of moving. Core muscles are the innermost muscles in your torso. Specific exercises are necessary to recruit these muscles, which otherwise might remain unused and underdeveloped, even in experienced professionals.
Metaphorically, performing Pilates exercises is like adding strength to the scaffolding of your house. Compare this to engaging in regular strength training exercises (which normally target your surface muscles), which is like improving your house’s exterior siding. One is not better than the other, but they will not accomplish the same things.
Pilates exercises are commonly performed either on specifically designed machines or equipment (which have names like “reformer” or “trap table” or “ladder barrel”) or on a yoga/pilates mat. The latter are known as “Pilates mat classes.” Mat classes sometimes involve additional equipment like foam rollers and “magic circles.” (Mine do not.)
There are so many reasons to take Pilates - posture, balance, grace, injury prevention, injury healing. My own story involves ‘accidentally’ taking my first class. (In my defense: it was called “Stretch and Align” -- so I thought it was yoga!) I was shocked when I found I completely lacked any ability to perform the exercises even half-way correctly - despite my being quite fit and very flexible. At first I vowed just to figure out why I was so bad at Pilates! Later, I truly wanted to understood how and why each exercise was performed and the best (easiest?) way to recruit the deep muscles that are necessary to really even have a core. What a difference Pilates has now made in the way I move and even in my deep psychology, as a source of true strength.
Over time I have added additional core-based exercises to my repertoire, that stretches well beyond pilates. Joseph Pilates died in the 1960’s and many others have come along to add their skill and creativity to his body of work since that time. Still, my Pilates classes are very traditionally Pilates-based.
Here is information about my Pilates and Core classes.
Here is information about Pilates resources.