— People often wonder ‘what is Pilates’? They have an idea that it is some kind of Yoga, or a series of exercises that dancers use to incorporate into their training.

In a nutshell, Pilates is a system of exercises specifically designed to improve core strength and flexibility

— Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Dusseldorf in 1880. Unfortunately he was a sickly child who suffered from a variety of ailments including asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever.

Unhappy and frustrated by his poor health and physical limitations, and with support and encouragement from his father, he studied a variety of physical regimes including yoga, gymnastics, boxing and diving in order to improve his level of fitness.

Encompassing elements from all these regimes he developed a system of exercise that become known as the Pilates Method. His system was so successful that by the age of fourteen young Joseph had become so physically fit he was hired to pose as a model for anatomical charts.

As a young man Joseph worked in occupations such as a self-defence trainer, a boxer, and a circus performer where physical fitness was key

Word of his success with his method spread, and he was hired by the city of Hamburg to train its policemen.
Later the German army also adopted his techniques.

In 1925 he immigrated to the United States, and opened his Pilates Studio at 939 Eighth Avenue in New York City.

Among his first clients were ballet dancers and performers, whose primary focus was balance and core strength.

As news of the effectiveness of The Pilates Method spread, he began to attract athletes into his studio as well.

As confidence in the method grew it was adopted by teachers and instructors worldwide, and can be practiced in most gyms and studios.

Pilates is used extensively by professional dancers and performers as part of their training routines.

— The key element is about defying gravity

The Pilates Method is comprised of 34 exercises that are performed on a mat, either in prone position (lying on the stomach face down) supine position (lying on the back face up) or lying on one’s side.

The aim is to enable the body to work as a whole, strengthening and lengthening the muscles and re-aligning muscle and tissue imbalances.

The following six teachings make up the basis of a Pilates session.

1. Centering: Physically bringing the focus to the centre of the body, which is termed ‘the powerhouse area’ (abdominals, lower back, buttocks, and inner thigh muscles) Energetically Pilates exercises are sourced from this area.

2. Concentration: If one brings their full attention to the exercise, and does it well, full commitment, and maximum value will be obtained from each movement

3. Control: Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control; no body part is left out of the movement

4. Precision: In Pilates, awareness is sustained through each movement there needs to be an appropriate placement; the focus is directed to correcting alignment.

5. Breath: Pilates advocated using a full breath in his exercises. Mat Pilate’s exercises co-ordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly, is an integral part of Pilates exercises.

6. Flow: Pilates exercises are executed in a flowing manner, fluidity; grace and ease are the goals that are applied to all the exercises.

— In Pilates every movement emanates from the centre (core) and extends through the limbs
In Yoga it is the concentration on the breath first, and then the focus shifts to deepening the pose.

In Pilates most of the exercises are performed lying down.
Either prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), or side lying
These movements aim to defy gravity, engaging the abdominal centre, in order to lift up from the ground to lengthen muscles.

In Yoga most of the poses are done standing, and they work by rooting down to the earth to lengthen the body away from the floor.

— At Fitness for Folks Pilates is the backdrop to our one to one personal training with our clients.
We always begin by working on improving core strength and alignment (Examining and then improving the range and quality of your movement patterns) and addressing any muscle or postural imbalances.

It serves no purpose other than to risk potential injury, loading up with weights or attempting intense resistance workouts, if one’s movement patterns are impaired.

We educate our clients about the importance of appropriate form and technique for safe progressive and injury free exercise.

— Firstly when you come in for a consultation at Fitness for Folks we need to establish what your goals are. Many clients have come with certain goals in mind that are unrealistic and too extreme. You also need to bear in mind that it will be your level of commitment to the programme that will be key to achieving these goals.

Let’s say for example you want to lose weight, we would need to establish how much weight, and in what amount of time this goal can be safely and effectively managed.

We would then draw up a preliminary group of exercises in order to test your R.O.M. (range of motion) and flexibility levels; this would help us to establish how your body recovers from the stresses that will be placed upon it.

Typically many people will join a gym with the best intentions of getting fitter and losing weight, usually their body’s flexibility and recovery levels are at a base rate.
They push weights that are too heavy for them, or set the treadmill or cardio-equipment at unmanageable speeds, they invariably end up sore, injured and disillusioned and then ultimately stop training.

Fitness for Folks places the first emphasis on the quality and effectiveness of your individual range of motion.

It simply equates to when you move more efficiently you can work harder
You can burn more calories, lose body fat, and you will recover without stress or injury thereby stimulating and enhancing your fitness levels.

Your body will respond and adapt very well to our programmes and you will find yourself progressing significantly in no time at all, so much so you will be keen to challenge yourself further.

— We believe that Personal Training is not just about paying a health professional to help you to get fit, there are many more considerations our programmes here at Fitness for Folks are a journey for both client and trainer.
We don’t just prescribe a standard series of exercises like most trainers
Our programmes when we work together will be continually adapted and revised in that they will be geared to maintain and improve your movement patterns to coincide with the progression that we will make during the programme.

Remember you are an individual, and you move and physically function in your own individual way, not all the exercises you see in a glossy magazine, or that are common to most gyms will work or be particularly effective for you.
Think of it as a physical journey of discovery whereby you will be astonished at what you are capable of achieving in terms of improving your fitness levels, confidence and well being.

Your programme will be tailored to your requirements in that together with your coach/trainer we will both establish in the course of our work together a unique programme that will work and get results for you.

Contact tony@fitnessforfolks.com