Pilates is an exercise system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Long a favorite of professional dancers, it has become a mainstream exercise system easy to find in most localities. Pilates concentrates on proper breath, alignment and posture, and on developing the core muscles and what Joseph Pilates called the 'powerhouse' of the abdominals, pelvis and lower back.
Where can you find Pilates classes?
- Local gyms and health clubs With its increased popularity, Pilates is being offered in more health venues. Fitness professionals have recognized the importance of posture and a toned core to prevent imbalance that can lead to injuries in other sports.
Some versions of Pilates emphasize working on specific Pilates equipment or working on a large balance ball. Gyms and health clubs will be more likely to have the necessary equipment for these classes.
- Yoga studios Pilates and yoga have a lot in common. There is the same training in proper breath work, the same attention to precise body alignment and the same emphasis on whether you are inhaling or exhaling when making a specific movement. While yoga calls for moving into a posture and holding the position, Pilates calls for a more constant movement into and out of postures.
Many yoga instructors are also Pilates instructors and offer Pilates classes at their yoga studios.
- Local government recreation programs Most local governments, city and county, have government-sponsored recreation programs. Check your phone book under local government and look for "Recreation Department" or "Parks and Recreation." Or you might get regular mailings detailing class offerings. Classes will be held in a local community center or school, and are more likely to concentrate on the classic 'mat work' Pilates without the equipment and balance balls.
Classes offered through your local government's recreation department tend to be more economical than those in commercial gyms and clubs.
- DVDs and VHS tapes There are scores of different Pilates workouts available on DVD or VHS. These are a more economical option, but should be done with care. The lack of an instructor's presence means that you can't be sure you are aligning yourself properly. If you can place a full-length mirror in the same room as your television, that would provide some self-analysis.
A better option would be to take a weekly Pilates class and supplement with at-home exercise to DVD; if you're developing bad habits in your home work, the instructor will correct your posture and movement.