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The History and Styles of Pilates

Pilates is an interesting and contemporary method concept and focuses on the corrective system of exercise.  It was created by Joseph Pilates, who emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1926 with his partner Clara.  They ran a very successful studio in New York for around fifty years, until Joseph passed away at the age of 83.  Clara continued teaching at the studio for a while, but then passed on their teachings to one of their most studious followers, called Romana Kryzanowska. 

Joseph was sickly as a child and used athletics and exercise to overcome many illnesses and strengthen his body.  He enjoyed skiing, diving, gymnastics and boxing.  He often observed how animals moved and used these as part of his writings. He was also very curious about human movement and methods of increasing strength, and he studied a wide range of exercise methodologies.  He particularly liked the classical Greek ideologies which focused on mind, body and spirit.

The exercises he promoted were based on the original concept of Contrology, and Pilates exercises display a variety of differences.  Pelvic tilts formed a part of his methodology, but nowadays, some of the exercises teach participants to exercise with a neutral spine. 

People often find it difficult to decide which style of Pilates suits them the best, and it is essential that you find the style that is best suited to your body type.

Styles of Pilates

  • Classical:  This is the original style taught by Joseph Pilates and is performed with a pelvic tilt.  The number of repetitions of the exercises is not as important as the quality of the exercise.  This type of Pilates was verified through photographs and films in which Joseph Pilates teaches this method.
  • Winsor:  This is one of the more commonplace styles, and was originally promoted by Mari Winsor, who was a dance instructor in Los Angeles.  In essence, it remains in line with the classic Pilates style, but it focuses exercises on breathing and deep stretches.  This style of Pilates combined with cardio exercise is a great method for weight loss.
  • Power Pilates:   This style is focused on exercises that strengthen and elongates muscles, but not to build bulk.  The 6 principles on which the original Pilates style is based are followed, and it aims to promote safe exercise and a commitment to stronger bodies and better health.
  • Fletcher:  The Ron Fletcher Company developed this technique through studying with Joseph and Clara Pilates, and other more contemporary exercise innovators.  It focuses on the classical style, but incorporates movement and dance into the routines.
  • Stott:  The most contemporary of the Pilates styles, it was developed in collaboration with various sports scientists, physical therapists and fitness professionals.  The main focus is to keep the spine neutral and to keep the spine in its natural curve during exercise.

Generally speaking, the classic style of Pilates is practiced the most often, but Pilates instructors tend to change and supplement these exercises with their own interpretations and tweaks.  All styles have their own advantages and the main focus is usually the commitment to a healthier and more robust body.  If you would like to find out more about the various styles of Pilates and how these could benefit your body types, please contact our team today!

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