What is pilates?

What is pilates?

“Pilates exercises is the best way to keep the body in such condition that allows us to live how we want and do what we want.” Rael Isacowitz

Pilates exercise is about the core of the body. It is a healthy type of exercise, which focuses especially on the core stabilization system, builds flexibility of the whole body, creates long and slim muscles and increases endurance. It puts emphasis on the spine flexibility, upright body posture, active pelvis, right breathing and building a strong body core. It improves coordination and balance. It brings about the harmony of body and spirit. 

Pilates as a system.

Pilates exercise is a system, a building kit. At first, each client learns basics of control of individual parts of the body and muscles, various types of breathing. The selection of exercises and equipment is adjusted accordingly. Gradually, the client is getting a higher ability and improves in performing the exercises. He/she moves on to the next level and the instructor can teach him/her more difficult exercises.

The exercise has several difficulty levels from very easy preparatory exercises to highly acrobatics exercises. Each client can develop himself/herself from a complete beginner to a very advanced gymnast.

A mat or machines?

A mat is one of the large number of training equipment, which pilates is performed on. The whole system, which was created by Joe Pilates, is based on the fact that each equipment enables to perform each single exercise at a different difficulty level. But it does not mean that one certain piece of equipment enables an easy performing of all exercises and another one a difficult performing. On the contrary – every single exercise can be easily performed on various equipment and it is up to the experienced instructor to select the proper difficulty and the specific piece of equipment for the current physical or health condition of the client. The mat also enables to perform an easy exercise and on the contrary, some exercises are very difficult to perform on the mat.

Exercises on machines compared to exercises on the mat only has a much wider use at both health exercising of clients and at exercise difficulty. There are many possibilities of performing exercises on machines and therefore exercising is different and enjoyable for the client every time.

Pilates exercises on machines is a very adaptable type of exercising, which supports a wide range of goals set by clients.

6 principles of pilates:

The basic principles of pilates, according to which each lesson is carried out (with the use of the Pilates anatomy book from Rael Isacowitz):


Breathing is one of the keys to life. Various breathing ways are used during pilates classes, which enable the proper performing of exercises, calm the client down and teach him/her about better breathing in the normal life.


Concentration is necessary for a precise performing of each exercise. The client, but the instructor as well, fully focuses on the best possible exercise performing in relation to the current ability level of the client.


The body core relates to the center of gravity of the body. Each person is different and has his/her individual center of the body. Placing of the center of the body influences the ability of a person in performing the exercise and therefore his/her feeling of the difficulty of performing the exercise. It naturally gets better with training. The body core along with the muscles is also called „core“.


A control at pilates exercise means a regulation of performing a certain exercise. Improvement of the control belongs to the mastery of the exercise. During the first exercise performing the client starts to control the movement and by a gradual improvement in performing the exercise, the control improves as well.


If we want to differentiate pilates from other types of exercises, then it is done by keeping the accuracy of exercises. The exercise itself is not often very different from other training programs, but what is different is the way of its performing.

Accuracy in pilates is the key to approach to the movement, it can be connected with the activation of isolated muscles and also with engaging the muscles required to create the movement.

It is about a permanent improvement of performing exercises during the learning process, whilst the ability of the client develops from the beginner to the advanced. The more experienced the client is and the more accurate he/she performs the exercise, the more benefits he/she has from the exercise.


Continuity can be described as a smooth, not interrupted movement of continuity, as a continuous movement towards outside from the strong core. Continuity requires a deep understanding of the movement and includes an accurate muscle activation and timing. As the movement ability improves during the pilates exercise experience, each movement should start flow easily.

These six principles are possible to follow while performing pilates exercises but also during normal daily activities. What do these six principles have in common, is the fact that each of them has a different physical and mental element. These elements connect the body and mind and allow the anatomy understanding to have a greater influence on our life.

The way each person incorporates these six principles in pilates exercising and in life generally is individual. For example, somebody might prefer physical aspects and uses pilates to improve the athletic achievements, to shape muscles or as a help when recovering from an injury. Somebody else might put a bigger emphasis on mental aspects and uses pilates to decrease stress and for a better concentration in his/her life.