Pilates aims to strengthen the body in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing. Pilates exercises are done on a mat or using special equipment, such as the Reformer, the Cadillac and Wunda Chair.
Pilates has something to offer people of all ages and levels of ability and fitness, from beginners to elite athletes. The apparatus can be used to provide support for beginners and people with certain medical conditions, as well as resistance for people looking to challenge their body. Before starting any exercise programme, it's advisable to seek advice from your GP or a health professional if you have any health concerns, such as a health condition or an injury.
Practitioners say regular Pilates practise can help improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, Pilates can complement their training by developing whole body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury.
There's some evidence that Pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. Exercises will be structured to the individual and vetted by an appropriately qualified health professional.
Pilates is classed as a muscle-strengthening activity, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Classes can vary in intensity: they can be gentle, or dynamic and offer a solid workout. If you want to lose weight, you're advised to combine pilates with a healthy diet and some aerobic activities, such as swimming, walking and cycling.