top of page

Pilates  | Coresprit®

Home > Pilates > What is Pilates

cours de pilates

“  After ten classes you feel the progress, after twenty classes you see it, after thirty classes you have a brand new body !”.


« A body free from tension and fatigue allows you to face all the complexities of life».


The special training method, developed eighty years ago by the German Joseph Heratus Pilates , focuses on targeted strengthening of the center of the body (deep abdominals, buttocks, lower back), on improving the mobility of the spine and on the conscious control of body movements and breathing .

Pilates, pionnier absolu des modernes disciplines « body-mind » (« corps -esprit » ), designed his method to overcome the many physical problems related to the rushed rhythms of modern life : general weakening of the body, incorrect postures, reduced vitality, psychic and physiological complications…


How Pilates works on the body

The Pilates method works on all the muscle chains of the body, to rebalance them and make them work in synchrony . In particular, we seek to restore a correct alignment between the pelvis and the spine and to considerably reduce most of the minor problems of the back and the pelvic region.


The muscle stretching that accompanies the practice is vital to relieve the joints and restore the correct balance between the muscle chains .
Pilates training, by combining breathing and harmonious movement, brings our attention back inside the body, to know it and maintain it without attacking it. It is finally a body work " intelligent ", created by someone, like Joseph Pilates, who, already in his time, saw the dangers of the routines of bodybuilding and sports training practiced without a real awareness of the complexity of the human organism.

What is Pilates?

The 8 principles of pilates

Joseph Pilates designed two different forms of applying the principles of Contrology :

- training with the " machines de Pilates" , devices specifically designed to put the different muscle groups in traction using springs, pulleys and others accessories (in the picture beside);

- training without machines, or “ sur mat ” (“ mat Pilates_cc781905-956-bb18-bad”) , based on the execution of specific exercises.


Whatever the means used, the eight basic principles of the method remain the same. Namely :

  • concentration ;

  • Control;

  • breathing ;

  • centering ;

  • precision ;

  • fluidity ;

  • isolation ;

  • routine.


1. Focus

"  Faithfully follow the exercises and accompanying instructions and always keep the mind completely focused on the purpose of the exercises themselves during the execution  ". [1]


The body, a field to explore.

The environment in which most of us are immersed from morning to night seems designed to take the mind away from the body bb3b-136bad5cf58d_our body moves without our knowledge, while we walk listening to music in our headphones, watching a movie on the couch, carrying heavy shopping bags, thinking about dinner... Even in gyms, we are bombarded with music and images during physical exercise, so that the mind is diverted as much as possible away from boredom and fatigue. Finally, we all know how to send an email, but it would be difficult to say where exactly our right kidney is ! And yet, the body is the machine with which we spend most of the time , but in the end it only becomes a heavy weight to be maintained because it has to be.

Restore body-mind contact

The practice of Pilates, like all other body-mind disciplines, brings our gaze inside our body and restores communication between body and mind, in both directions . The body is no longer an enemy to be tamed and silenced so that it disturbs us as little as possible. On the contrary, listening to it and acting in harmony with it allows us to radically improve our quality of life, physically, of course, but also mentally.

All Pilates exercises are designed to be performed in full awareness of the messages that the body sends us, and this requires us to detach ourselves from external noise and fully use our mind   to better know this mysterious machine with which we were born .


2. control

“  In theory, muscles should obey the will. (…) The work of pilates begins with the control of the mind over the muscles.  » [1]



The concept of _cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ control was so dear to Joseph Pilates that he called his method "  CONTROLOGY  " ( Contrology ). Obtaining control of the positions and movements of the body must be the first and the last objective in the practice of Pilates. Through careful and constant observation of the body during exercise, overall control of the body can be achieved.


"Feel" the body

Control is the direct result of concentration  : the more we manage to focus our attention on each cell of the body, the more we can control it. The effect is true in the opposite direction too : awakening " thousands and thousands of sleeping muscle cells " causes the stimulation of " thousands and thousands of brain cells, thus activating new areas and activating even more the functioning of the mind ". Like saying that a physical practice focused on the perception of our own body (the “ proprioception ”) makes us more “_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf5579d_intelligent -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_”, a concept that has already been well established by modern neurophysiology.


3. Breathing

“  Breathing is the first vital action, and also the last. Since it is impossible to live without breathing, it is tragically distressing to see millions and millions of people who have never learned to master the art of correct breathing ». 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ [1]


The practice of Pilates is always performed following precise breathing patterns  : the air enters or leaves the lungs vigorously to help the contraction of the different muscle groups , and, at the same time, the exercises invite the respiratory muscles to work correctly, so that the oxygenation of the body is maximum. the sense that we seek to develop and increase inspiratory and expiratory capacities, which has, in the long term, an impact also on habitual, automatic breathing, which becomes longer, deeper, more nourishing, with all benefits for the heart and the brain that one can well imagine.


4. "Centering"

JH Pilates définit «  Power House  » (générateur d'énergie)  ou « Girdle of Stenght » (strength belt) the region of the waist, between the pelvis and the rib cage, which includes all the abdominal and lumbar muscles and the superficial (gluteal) and deep (psoas) muscles of the pelvis .  According to Pilates, “  every muscle works together to help the development of every other muscle. The development of the minor muscles naturally helps to strengthen the major muscles  ”.

This applies to the idea of centering , where strengthening the muscles of the powerhouse brings increased stability to the core and promotes isolated movements of the limbs and head . In other words, when the postural muscles that support the framework of the bust are well structured and balanced between them, the movements of the arms and legs are easier and easier .


A smart body

The resulting ergonomics is also a strong point of centering : less energy is spent to achieve the same performance, according to the concept of "  minimal effort for the maximum result  ”.

  All the exercises of the Pilates method go in this direction : win and keep a stable center to create maximum ease and ease in body movements and conquer this "  grâce ” in the movement and posture that had been inspired in Pilates by the fluid movements of felines. It is therefore not surprising that the Pilates method has always been the favorite of classical and modern dancers looking for effective ways to maximize their performance.


5. Accuracy

Executing the exercises precisely is a leitmotif of the Pilates method. There shouldn't be two different ways to perform the same movement , and this accuracy is necessary to practice at home, which is highly recommended even for beginners. Personal practice indeed requires a lot of precision and attention to give tangible and lasting results, and we must resist the temptation to find shortcuts by falling back on known training patterns. We must keep in mind the principle according to which the goal of the practice must be to have a body " flexueux  like that of a cat, and not muscular like that of a pack horse or like the muscle-hardened body of a circus weightlifter  ".



6. Fluidity

Fluidity of execution is both the result of the joint application of the first five principles of the Pilates method and a goal to be sought in all exercises. Trying to create quality movements requires effective communication between the brain and the muscles and a deep knowledge of our psychic and physical mechanisms . This is the reason why a certain slowness is essential in this type of training, especially at the beginning. Physical and mental bodies must find the time necessary to align themselves with each other and produce a precise result. This principle is valuable in a society where performance and speed have the upper hand at the expense of the quality of the result.   The price of a physical  aspect   should not be further increase our daily fatigue and stress, and this explains the increasingly widespread use of training techniques " corps esprit " to the disadvantage of the proposed routines in “ traditionnels ” fitness centers.


7. Isolation

The Pilates technique bases much of muscle work on isolation, which is the ability to work muscles independently, so that only those necessary for the exercise are involved . Isolation helps us save our energies by contracting exactly what is needed, when it is needed and with the optimal degree of contraction. With a refined technique, one can obtain a “  activation  ” of the muscles, instead of a true maximum contraction, excessive and unnecessary. Balanced work between agonist muscles (which “ font ” movement) and antagonist muscles (which resist movement) is one of the keys to isolation.


8. Routine

Remember that " Rome was not built in a day " and that patience and endurance are essential qualities for the final accomplishment of your effort. Practice your exercises diligently, with the firm and unalterable determination that will simply allow you not to hesitate in maintaining your self-confidence.  Sometimes you would be tempted to take a " free evening ". Do not give in to this temporary weakness that leads you to indecision, or rather, to a bad choice. Resolve to stay true to yourself. Think what would happen if the drivers who supply the boiler of a huge transatlantic boat decided to take a " soirée libre "._cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ Constancy in practice is the last, but by no means the least important, principle of Pilates. [1]

The daily routine should be natural like eating and sleeping. Conquering this habit of maintaining your own body should not require great effort, since the well-being that derives from the practice is tangible and you quickly get " en lack  when you stop for more than a few days. Moreover, setting up the routine is simple , since you can start with very short practices (ten minutes can be enough at the beginning), to lengthen them according to your desire and availability. And as in Pilates training, quality takes precedence over quantity, the principle of less is more (“ less is better ”) is systematically applied to the number repetitions, reduced to the essential, so that the concentration remains constant and the movement fluid and precise.


[1]  J. H.  Pilates, Pilates' Return to life through Contrology, New York 1945

Pilates sur tapis
posture pilates
cours de pilates
machine pilates
See as well










Copyright Anjaliom© 2014. No reproduction, even partial, other than those provided for in article L 122-5 of the intellectual property code,

may not be made from this site without the express permission of the author. 

bottom of page