Pilates, Pilates Reformers, Pilates Chairs
"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." These words of Joseph Hubertus Pilates, uttered at the age of 86, may be an exaggeration, but practitioners the world over have heeded his advice and are reaping the benefits. This core-strengthening combination of philosophy and fitness has been chosen by millions over gyms, ellipticals and all other new-fangled fads and devices.
The rudiments of Pilates lie in the 34 founding poses and exercises developed by Joseph Pilates in the early part of the 20th century. These include "The Hundred," "The Roll Up," and "The Shoulder Bridge," and can be performed with nothing more than a soft mat and an attention to detail. One of the most appealing aspects of the practice is the focus on personal achievement and balance -- Pilates does not engender a competitive environment the way strength training or aerobics might. Because of this, the discipline has brought people together through a common desire for balance, concentration, and precision.
If you are just getting started in Pilates, a great, cost-effective way to see if it is right for you is to practice the 34 poses on a proper mat. Should you find your fitness, sense of self, and concentration improve, you may want to look into a deeper involvement with the various apparatuses available.
A Pilates Reformer is a device that houses a moving platform which slides along a metal or wooden frame. Shoulder braces, springs, and ropes create adjustable resistance for scores of core-strengthening exercises. From the look of it, you might think it only works for lying exercises, but the reformer works for seated, standing, and kneeling poses as well.
A good reformer will not wear or break, but because they are highly calibrated and well-engineered devices, they can get rather expensive. The health benefits are proven, but because of their size, some serious practitioners prefer simple mat exercises for the freedom to practice nearly anywhere.
A Pilates chair facilitates your practice by leveraging the weight of your body for better stretches and strengthening exercises. Joseph Pilates himself developed the "Wunda" chair -- and it has only been improved upon since his design. These chairs are appropriate for use by the young, old, pregnant, and convalescent.