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Julia Roberts and Madonna May be Right:
The Benefits & Technique of Pilates

"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness," said Joseph Pilates, who founded the Pilates Method back in the 1920s. And devotees to this exercise system swear by its ability to achieve the best of both worlds: physical and mental well-being.


Pilates, along with yoga and tai chi, is considered a mind-body exercise because it benefits both the physical and emotional aspects of health.

Indeed, pilates has been making headlines in recent years. Julia Roberts reportedly used it to lose her post-pregnancy weight, Madonna does it, and so has Halle Berry, Sting, the San Francisco 49ers, and Patrick Swayze.

"[Pilates] has been the fastest growing fitness modality within the fitness industry for years. Everybody wants to know about it," wrote Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle, director of the Pilates Center of Austin, in the Austin American-Statesman.

Pilates Among the Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2007

Pilates will continue to be among the top fitness trends of 2007, according to The American Council on Exercise (ACE), largely because of its attention to the mind-body connection.

Pilates, says ACE, provides an alternative to higher impact activities while promoting proper posture, breathing and body awareness. Exercises like pilates, and also yoga and tai chi, incorporate "elements of mental and spiritual fitness." By incorporating these elements, ACE reports that "individuals will take better care of their entire being and psychological self, not just their bodies."

What IS Pilates?

You've likely heard of pilates, and maybe even snatched a peek of a class going on at your local gym, but chances are you're still wondering what exactly it is.

Joseph Pilates fully believed that the mind and body are dependant upon one another. As such, when he created pilates he designed it to fully engage the body and the mind.

This is done through a series of controlled, precise movements that work the muscles of the abdomen, lower back and buttocks and create flexibility and strength.

Classical Pilates Technique - The Complete Mat Workout Series

Classical Pilates Technique

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, this 75-minute DVD will give you an excellent pilates workout -- in the style founder Joseph Pilates had envisioned.

Classical Pilates Technique will teach you basic pilates movements, with a focus on concentration, rhythm, flow and energy, then lets you choose which level, basic, intermediate or advance, is right for you.

Learn More About Classical Pilates Technique - The Complete Mat Workout Series Now!

The movements are done either on floor mats or on special pilates apparatus that help support and guide the body, and involve these six core concepts:

  1. Concentration

  2. Breathing

  3. Control

  4. Precision

  5. Rhythm/flow

  6. Centering

Major Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is a popular exercise among dance companies, Broadway shows, students at performing arts schools and universities, sports teams, and celebrities because it lends a coveted "long and lean" look to its followers and creates strength without adding bulk.

But there is much more to pilates than a slimmer figure. According to the United States Pilates Association, pilates:

  • Can be an integral part of physical therapy designed to speed recovery of soft tissue injuries

  • Provides body conditioning and injury prevention and recovery

  • Improves body alignment

  • Enhances breathing and circulation

  • Increases strength, flexibility and balance

  • Improves muscle tone, energy and mental concentration

  • Is useful for pregnant women to learn proper breathing and body alignment, improve concentration and recover body shape and tone after giving birth

How to Learn Pilates


Pilates lends a long, lean look to the body, and adds strength without creating bulk.

If you are already familiar with pilates, you can perform the routine right in your own home using a pilates DVD. There are many to choose from, including one of our classic favorites, Classical Pilates Technique - The Complete Mat Workout Series.

However, if you have never tried pilates before you may be better off learning the basic movements directly from an instructor. Pilates courses are available in group sessions in health clubs and spas across the country. You can also take pilates at a specialized pilates center, which may offer group or one-on-one sessions. Check out this site from the United States Pilates Association to help you find a certified pilates instructor near you.

Recommended Reading

The Health Benefits of Dancing -- Including Specific Benefits of Different Dances

It's Time to Relax: 15 Quick Tips to Help You Shift Your Gears to Relax Mode Quickly


United States Pilates Association December 6, 2006

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