Pilates :The benefits and where to practice

women doing pilates on the beach
(Photos: Envato Elements)
Growing up as a sickly child, German physical trainer Joseph Pilates was determined to find an exercise to recover and build his frail body. Having studied yoga, martial arts, Zen meditation, and Greek and Roman exercises, he created a blended practice known as Pilates.اضافة اعلان

This practice is a low-impact resistance training that became popular once introduced in the US in 1923. Since then, it has been used for rehabilitation and holistic exercise. Pilates has experienced a boom in popularity in the last decade. It aims to join body and mind to create more economic movements that mimic and expand upon our natural everyday motions.

What is Pilates?

The ultimate goal of Pilates is the union of body and mind in a way that allows for optimal and instinctual mechanical balance and strength. There are six central elements of Pilates: Centering, Concentration, Control, Breath, Precision, and Fluidity.


The body's core is from the shoulders to the hips and serves as the main power source for most movements. Mastery of this principle will facilitate the practice of all other principles, allowing them to blend into each other seamlessly. 

Centering begins with stabilizing the spine. For example, one technique known as abdominal hollowing draws the navel (belly button) to the spine. It protects the spine, providing a stronger support system by engaging the deep abdominal muscles. 

As a result, this can improve posture, alleviate certain daily standing and sitting aches, and build strength systemically.

• Concentration

One of the unique aspects of Pilates is the holistic approach to training. The mind is just as important to train. When performing exercises, there is an emphasis on ensuring smooth movements. The main technique used is movement visualization, which is simply imagining the motion before and during its conduction.

• Control

Control is having full reign over your own body, which can be achieved by combining the first two principles. When the exercise originates from the core and is done with mindfulness, the movements will be exactly how they are imagined with the appropriate strength.

• Breath

Proper breathing techniques are considered to be fundamental in Pilates. A forced “belly” breathing method is the most commonly used technique. This form of deep breathing engages the core and enriches the body’s tissues with oxygen, thus improving circulation. Additionally, it will help improve mental function, which relates to concentration and movement ease, which relates to control.

• Precision

The quality of movements is of greater importance than the quantity. With mindfulness of alignment and trajectory of each body part, the focus should be on achieving a precise and perfect movement.

• Fluidity

Pilates exercises should be performed as a graceful flow of motions rather than static, isolated movements following each person’s breathing rhythm. 

By practicing fluent transitions, the flow achieved will create more purposeful movements in everyday life. Mastery of this principle is what can set beginners and advanced practitioners apart.

Physical and mental benefits

There are many benefits to the physical body with Pilates's holistic approach as it targets multiple muscles at once, evenly training the entire body. 

By incorporating various positions and planes, such as sitting, lying, and standing, your muscles are worked from every angle. Over time, this will provide a deep and uniform tone that can sculpt your physique. 

The more you engage your muscles, the more defined they become. 

When paired with an appropriate healthy diet, you can change your shape completely. As it uses natural motions and body weight, Pilates can produce a lengthened, sculpted, yet natural figure. 

Additionally, everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, doing housework, and climbing stairs may become much easier.

Pilates has other unique advantages that can prove more beneficial than other forms of physical activity. Poor alignment is a major cause of everyday aches and pains and restricted movement. 

When our skeleton is misaligned, our muscles are held at suboptimal lengths, causing stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints. Pilates can help correct misalignment, which can alleviate the impact of gravity on your spine and joints, reduce the risk of strain, and improve posture in general. 

Similarly, Pilates can also help improve flexibility. Having a full range of motion is the core for most forms of exercise, and keeping your movements unrestricted will free the tension in your muscles. This will further improve posture and help joints stay healthy. The more flexible a joint is, the more immunity it has to the wear and tear aging puts on it. This is especially important for people with arthritis and other joint conditions. Additionally, flexibility will improve circulation, leading to better skin and hair health and more energy.

Endurance, which preliminarily comes from mental strength and persistence, can be built using the principles of concentration. In conjunction with physical endurance, mental fortitude will also begin to increase. Like most exercises, Pilates can relieve stress by releasing “feel-good hormones” called endorphins. However, due to its unique cognitive training, Pilates also has additional advantages over other forms of exercise, such as weightlifting. It forces you to focus on each movement of your body at that moment rather than on the stresses of life. 

A 2009 study comparing Pilates to a form of martial arts known as Taiji Quan showed that the individuals who practiced Pilates had a significantly increased mood and self-efficacy. Both groups experienced an equal improvement in sleep quality, strength, and balance.

Health benefits

Pilates change the lives of people suffering from various ailments tremendously. As a result, it has often been incorporated into many physical therapy and rehabilitation regimens for those with a certain condition. 

A common problem affecting many people is lower back pain which can result from long hours spent in a chair, the focal point of Pilates, centering, integrates stabilization and elongation of the spine into most exercises. A 2006 study concluded that Pilates can be more efficacious than normal care for individuals with chronic lower back pain. A 2009 study also supported this, adding that after just 15 sessions, patients showed an improved weight distribution while walking and reduced pain.

Pilates has also become quite popular in the older population due to its benefits for certain conditions such as arthritis, considering exercise is extremely important in alleviating the symptoms. 

Exercises must not cause any additional stress on the joints, such as running, but must also build muscle and increase flexibility around the joints. Pilates, which perfectly achieves those goals, is cheap, accessible, and easy. 

For health care providers of elderly patients, fall prevention is a primary concern. A study of elderly subjects, ages 65-81, in a 10-week Pilates training program showed that Pilates was safe when performed correctly and improved postural stability and balance, which can help prevent falls.

Pilates in Jordan

To experience Pilates group lessons, many gyms and dance studios around Jordan offer classes. 

The Salida Dance Studio in Al-Rawabi offers Pilates classes using equipment such as the Reformer, the chair, and the tower five times a week. 

The GX Gym for women and children and the Fitness One Vega Gym also offers group Pilates classes in Amman.

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