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  • Writer's pictureChloe Hart

What Was Important To Joe?

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates, chose six principles that made up the core of Pilates fundamentals: Breath, Concentration, Centre, Control, Precision, Flow.

What are these and why are they important?


“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” - Joseph Pilates

I think we can all agree that breathing is important! I mean, it keeps us alive. Poor breathing habits can affect our memory, energy, creativity, stamina and so much more. In classes I often cue breathing patterns to make exercises more efficient, for example, exhaling before curling forward - expending the air from the lungs, makes it easier to curl forward. A strong exhale can help locate those inner core muscles. I cannot exaggerate the importance of good breathing patterns not just in class, but in day to day life. Our minds and our bodies are connected which means that healthy breathing in Pilates (and elsewhere) can lead to less stress and anxiety.


“Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits." - Joseph Pilates

Every person who starts Pilates remarks on how much there is to remember in each exercise...tummy in, lengthen through the spine, flex/point, flowing movement... No doubt it takes concentration to do Pilates. This is why Pilates can be so relaxing because specific focus can relax your mind. Joe was ahead of his time in noticing the mind-body link. He knew that really concentrating on your body in class would help relax your mind - like a physical meditation session. This will help you learn how your body moves and understand the connections and muscles you are using for cleaner, more effective exercise.


"Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play and in the way you work." - Joeseph Pilates

Joe originally called Pilates Contrology. His system was designed around the "powerhouse"; which today we call the core. He taught that a strong core would help you through all movement in life. For Joe, his "powerhouse" was a big rectangular box that covered the body from the shoulders to the hip joints in the front and from behind, the neck to the bottom of your back. All his original exercises were developed around this "powerhouse".


"The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body

and not at its mercy." - Joseph Pilates

Joe was keen to develop control over muscles and movement. Each movement was to be done in a specific way. But Joe's idea of control went further. Again bringing in the mind-body connection he felt that Pilates wasn't just about training your muscles but also about strengthening the mind body connection so you could improve all movement, not just Pilates movements.


"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion." - Joseph Pilates

The Pilates method requires the exercises to be done in a precise way. Joe felt that doing things precisely and with intention would help his students understand how to move more effectively and how to tune in to bad habits. Precision is more important than the execution of the exercise. For example, you may be able to balance in a teaser, but if you are doing it incorrectly then you are building bad habits through muscle memory that may hurt your neck or back.


“Change happens through movement and movement heals." - Joseph Pilates

The overall goal of the Pilates method is to create a body and mind that can move easily, fluidly, without restriction or pain. Today this means using good biomechanics to move. It's about the How rather than the what the exercise actually looks like. Graceful is nice to see, but healthy movement is better.

All of these principles are included in every Pilates class. They are the foundation of the Pilates method and the reason it works so well.

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