01202 473800

What is Pilates?

Aug 4, 2021

Picture of Louise O'Connell, Pilates teacher in Christchurch Dorset

What is Pilates? This is a question that I get asked regularly. Usually, a long, animated answer follows, so I thought that I would give my definition.

Pilates was named after Joseph Pilates (1883 -1967), originally called Contrology. It was only following his death that it was renamed Pilates.

Pilates exercises are based on coordinating the movement of the body with breathing. They can be performed on a variety of equipment from the reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunder chair or simply on a mat. A mat is a great starting point for most people to learn the basics. Subsequently, you can then transition to more challenging classical exercise sequences.

The classical mat is a sequence of 34 mat-based exercises, carried out in a prescribed order. Joseph Pilates originally put them together with the aim of challenging the whole body both physically and mentally. The mat exercises that we do today are derived from those original classical exercises, just broken down into more manageable chunks.

Pilates is a non-impact form of exercise and primarily works on the ABC’s of Alignment, Breathing & Centering

The exercises focus on the individual maintaining a good alignment during the execution of the move, drawing their awareness to the position of the spine and pelvis. Clients often hear me say, “Think what is moving and what is staying still”. Classes provide a whole body work out, combining sequences of moves that will, once learned, incorporate breathing to allow the moves to flow.

Centering is the ability to control your body’s core muscles, your centre. Your centre provides your body with a support network of muscles and controls your balance and stability. Not only does Pilates challenge your balance, it provides a functional way to exercise with the aim of becoming stronger and more flexible.

Pilates is as much a physical exercise as it is a mental one

People in a Pilates class in Christchurch, Dorset doing a side reach

Learning and remembering the movements, as well as trying to coordinate the breath, provides a fantastic ‘timeout’ from the real world. Completing a class brings a sense of achievement and relaxation. This is why I love it. It not only allows me and my clients to develop/maintain a strong lean body. It allows us to focus inwards and rest our minds from the business of day-to-day life.

“In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 sessions you will see a difference and in 30 you will have a whole new body.”

Joseph Pilates

To find out more about Pilates, head to our Pilates page so that you can read our FAQs as well as view the latest timetable of classes. Our face-to-face and online classes cater to a wide range of ability, from Beginners through to Intermediates who have an all-round knowledge of core techniques and want to take it further.

To book your class contact us on 01202 473800 or email

“Since starting Pilates I’m amazed how quickly I noticed the benefits and results. My posture and core strength are noticeably improved as well as feeling more energised. It’s a great workout for the entire body. I always leave the class feeling better, mentally and physically.”

Christine C

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