Pilates is a method of body conditioning based on using positioning and gravity to work the muscles.
German-born Joseph Pilates was frail as a child and studied many different fitness disciplines to improve himself. He brought together ideas from areas such as yoga, Zen Buddhism and acrobatics to create his own fitness method during and after World War I. Pilates moved to New York in the 1920s and began to teach and train other teachers.
Pilates workouts focus first on developing strength through the core of the body--the back, abdomen and hips. This provides a foundation to continue working the rest of the body. The concentration is not only on strength but also flexibility and coordination.
The goal of Pilates is overall body fitness, elongated supple muscles, and balance between body and mind, with all the parts of a person working as a whole.
Pilates gives practitioners improved posture, increased lung capacity, and strong, sculpted muscles. Its emphasis on all around, complete fitness supports a variety of fitness goals, from building strength to increasing flexibility.