Pilates (pronounced pi-lah-tees) was first developed in the early 1900's by Josef Pilates to help dancers improve flexibility, muscle balance, coordination and injury management. The exercises that make up pilates focus on isolated muscles or muscle groups to strengthen weak muscles and elongate bulky and inflexible muscles.

Pilates is similar to yoga in the implementation of breathing, concentration and control to create balance, but is aimed more at the improvement of the physical condition. Because exercises use your own body weight as resistance they are gentle on joints whilst placing the emphasis on the muscular system, and are suitable for adults of all ages wanting to improve muscle toning, strength and flexibility, co-ordination and balance, and posture.

The most common form of pilates are exercises performed on a floor mat. Classes are usually conducted in small groups with one instructor, for up to 90 minutes. Pilates is most beneficial if you are able to attend classes two to three times per week, with noticeable changes after about 10 sessions.

Check with your doctor before starting any new form of exercise if you have a pre-existing medical condition, are pregnant or have not exercised for a long time.

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