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Pilates. Looks almost like Pirates, but sounds more like string cheese. Actually the pronunciation of Pilates is puh-lah-teez. So what is it? A weird kind of coffee drink like a latte? Something with pulleys? An odd way to say please?
To explain what a Pilates is you have to go all the way back to a gentleman by the name of Joseph Pilates. This poor guy was your typical 98 pound weakling and sickly to boot. He had no energy, no strength and quite honestly was in terrible health. Finally he decided to do something about his terrible condition. To do this he developed a health system. He may have been sick but obviously not dumb. This system consisted of yoga, Zen philosophy, and a number of exercises taken from ancient Romans and Greeks.
During the second world war Pilates was held in a German prison camp. While he was there he introduced these exercises to other prisoners at the camp. They helped the prisoners maintain their strength and fight off illness. While he was doing this he also developed other techniques for working out on the floor or a mat. He started developing equipment as well that he made out of bed springs and other materials. This equipment was perfect for creating resistance which aided in strengthening the muscles. What he developed in this prison camp and what he taught the other prisoners is what was the start of the current Pilates movement. The modern version is a series of exercises made for the purpose of improving flexibility and strength through a series of stretching and balancing movements.
The group of people who are most attracted to this system are dancers, especially ballerinas. It should be fairly obvious as to why, since dancing requires a lot of strength and agility and a great deal of flexibility. The regimen is also said to aid in preventing injury which dancers are very prone to. Pilates is said to strengthen the body from the inside out and in addition, the effect this system has on the mind is supposed to be very beneficial as it helps to relieve stress and anxiety.
Chiropractors highly recommend Pilates for the strengthening of the back and spine. They say after a sufficient amount of time using this system a person can expect increased mobility in the joints, a flatter stomach, thinner waist and thighs, and improved circulation.
Pilates is a low impact routine, meaning it does not cause a lot of stress on the body since there is very little bouncing as with other forms of exercise. This makes it very attractive to people rehabilitating from an injury who need physical therapy. It is also good for elderly and overweight people as it increases circulation and reduces weight gradually. For those with arthritis this is also a good routine as it helps ease stiffness in the muscles. It is also said to get women back into shape who have just had a baby.
For all of the above reasons Pilates is one of the most popular workouts in the world today.