Practice Makes Perfect, Understanding the Six Principles of Pilates

PilatesFinding fun new ways to move is important for getting and staying physically fit. Doing the same routine all the time gets boring and allows the body to grow accustom to the regular movements, resulting in less effective exercise. Pilates is a fairly new form of exercise that helps build flexibility, strength and endurance through the use of resistance training and body weight exercises. Likewise, with its attention to proper alignment, Pilates develops extensive core strength while it enhances coordination and balance. While a variety of versions and components exist within the overarching system of Pilates the central components center on the six major principles of Pilates.

The Six Principles of Pilates

While not originally constructed by Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates system, the six pillars or principles of this workout system serve as an integral part of the program for individuals practicing today. While the technical order of the principles varies depending on the individual instructors beliefs, these six components serve as a foundation for all variations of Pilates.

1. Concentration – One of the most important components of a Pilates routine is concentration. This principle involves raising one’s awareness or connection to one’s body. Concentration helps individuals focus on proper form and alignment, which results in more effective practice. Concentration is often viewed as one of the most important components of any program.

2. Centering – The principle of center involves the focus on developing core strength. To develop a more efficient muscle and skeletal system, one must strengthen his or her core muscles. Centering requires an intensive focus on the core muscles.

3. Control – Pilates is an exercise program that emphasizes slow, steady, smooth movements rather than fast paced repetition. Controlling each and every movement is crucial for proper practice. This control also offers maximum muscle and strength gain.

4. Breathing – An additional factor involved in a proper Pilates practice is focusing on breathing throughout the movements and routine itself. Breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth facilitates better control and focus. An additional component of breath in Pilates is using integral breathing that flows through the stomach rather than the chest. This practice adds an additional element of abdominal and core strength training.

5. Precision – Aligned with the principle of control, precision is a focus on proper form in each movement or position. Precision delivers optimal training and maximum results toward keeping the body fit and healthy.

6. Flow – While not “dancing” in and of itself, Pilates should be flowing and graceful. Focusing on a seamless flow from one movement to another creates effective transition in exercises and movement and effectively increases flexibility.

Whether just beginning to practice Pilates or a seasoned practitioner, individuals seeking to get the most out of Pilates should learn and apply the six principles for a healthy, beneficial program. From resistance training to core development, Pilates is an effective training program that offers optimum results when done correctly.

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