I love Pilates. I have been performing it (sporadically) and incorporating it (regularly) it into client treatments for well over 20 years with much success. Even the hardcore, rough and ready servicemen at Walter Reed found it a welcome addition to their regimen.
Joseph Pilates was way ahead of his time. He was, in my opinion, to physical fitness what Einstein was to physics. Pure genius. He developed his program based on the ‘powerhouse’ of the core and his fundamental principles of Breath, Centering, Control, Concentration, Precision, Flowing Movement. Look up photos of this guy...he was his own best marketing agent. (And you all know by now how big I am on the importance of the breath!)
He recognized not only the mind-body connection, but the important contributions of a strong diaphragm to our posture, core strength, and overall health. When taught correctly, Pilates capitalizes on core control and the breath while both strengthening and lengthening muscles.
Pilates was sickly as a child and turned to fitness overcome his ailments. He got into boxing and gymnastics, and eventually moved to England to be a trainer. When WWI broke out, he being German, was interned with others in a POW camp. In order to help the injured and bed-ridden, he devised a system of exercises and utilized things like bed springs to eventually create what would become part of his now well-known equipment.
After the war, he moved to NYC where he and his wife Clara set up a studio and his discipline which he actually termed "Contrology", not Pilates. He started working primarily with ballet dancers and established what would decades later become a world-wide exercise phenomenon.
When looking for a Pilates instructor, don’t settle for someone who did their training in a weekend. Pilates certification takes many months and sometimes years of training to be safe and effective. Stott, Polestar, Balance Body, and Fletcher are some of the top certifications. Or an experienced physical therapist who has Pilates training by one of the above....like me!