Pilates is a sport method and skill named after the German Joseph Hubertus Pilates. Pilates called “Contrology” for this set of unique training movements and sports skills he created.

The scope of the Pilates exercise in a narrow sense: The Pilates couple created a total of over 500 movements, most of which were saved as photos or documentaries. They include mat exercises and the movements of the studio equipment invented by Mr. Pilates. This is the concept of Pilates in a narrow sense.

The broad concept of Pilates exercise: Pilates is first of all a kind of exercise. It mainly exercises the deep small muscle groups of the human body, maintains and improves the appearance of normal movement posture, achieves body balance, creates and expands the range of motion and activity of the trunk and limbs, emphasizes the control of core muscles, and strengthens the human brain to limbs and bones. The nerve induction and innervation of the muscle tissue are coordinated with the correct breathing method to carry out a whole-body coordinated exercise.


Mr. Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was frail and sick since he was a child. Later he aspired to strengthen his body and learn to study a variety of exercise therapies. At the age of 14, his physique was strong enough to be a model in anatomical pictures! After that, he continued to gradually form systematic exercise therapy through practice.

In 1912, 32-year-old Joseph Pilates moved to the United Kingdom, and during the First World War he used Pilates’ unique and effective exercise therapy to help a large number of prisoners recover, and thus attracted the attention of the public.

In 1926, the 46-year-old Pilates immigrated to New York, USA, and met his nurse fiancee Clara on a ship to the United States; on Fifth Avenue in New York, the Pilates couple set up The Pilates studio (The Pilates studio) , Which specifically provides targeted exercise therapy training for famous dancers, actors, and athletes. Because of its remarkable effect, it has been well-known in the United States. Later, it has gradually gained recognition and affirmation from countries and all walks of life.

“The first requirement for happiness is physical health. Our understanding of physical health is to achieve and maintain the unity of the body and sound mind, abundant natural athletic ability, and complete the many tasks in daily life happily and calmly.” He wrote the above paragraph in 1945, which also fully demonstrated the true essence of Pilates.


Combining Eastern and Western movement concepts

Westerners have always focused on the training of physical muscles, such as waist, abdomen, back, chest, etc.; while Easterners have focused on training of breathing and mind concentration. Meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi are good examples. Pilates combines the strengths of Eastern flexibility and Western fortitude. Its movements are slow and clear, and every posture must be coordinated with breathing. Therefore Pilates is suitable for any age, especially lack of exercise and longevity. Time needs access to computers and office workers from 9 to 5. Stretching and elongation are also one of the most important trainings in Pilates. Its special feature is that the muscles will not become thick after exercise. Through the core parts of the body (the waist and abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominis, internal obliques, internal obliques, Exercises of the external oblique, rectus abdominis and erector spinae muscles make the spine soft and tough. Therefore, Pilates exercise not only improves the body line, but also has a very good effect on the correction of the neck and spinal cord.


Its movement speed is relatively peaceful, it is a static state of movement, and there is almost no damage to joints and muscles. At the same time, the combination of movement and static action arrangement makes the body both tense and relaxed. It has both step change and meditation adjustment. This makes it easier for exercisers to control the body and reduce the negative effects caused by posture errors. Pilates uses very simple equipment to give your body a comprehensive exercise. As long as there is a quiet space and a soft carpet, you can practice and achieve the combination of body and mind.

Emphasize the control process in sports

This allows the trainer to increase muscle strength without increasing muscle volume. Pilates exercises with light equipment follow the principle of small weights and multiple repetitions, so that the muscles are full of elasticity without making them too prominent. Its exercise intensity is not particularly large, but it pays attention to control, stretching and breathing, and has a very good effect on shaping the waist, abdomen, buttocks and other key parts of women. This is more suitable for women’s physical beauty requirements in real life.

The biggest feature of Pilates is that it is simple and easy to learn. It not only moves smoothly, but can also target arms, chest and shoulders purposefully, while enhancing the flexibility of the body. Moreover, this sport is not restricted by the location of the activity, whether it is a professional gym or a living room, it can also be practiced.


Pilates movements must be accurate, so pay special attention to the following aspects:

Correct posture:

The correct posture is to maintain proper concentration of the abdomen and back so that the muscles can support the spine. The strong abdominal muscles form the “strength zone” that supports the spine. When you straighten up your abdomen and back correctly and strengthen the strength of other muscles, your entire body has reached a natural and ideal state. Such a posture will help the muscles to exercise properly.

Good breathing:

A good breathing method should be carried out in the mind, body, and spirit, so that the physical and spiritual pressure of the practitioner can be wiped out. The timing of breathing must be correct. Unlike our usual breathing, Pilates requires to inhale when you breathe hard (when your abdomen is in a stretched state), and to exhale when you tighten your abdomen.

Pilates requires the harmony of mind and spirit. Decompression of the mind can actually be done naturally in Pilates exercises.

Practice rules

People who have really come into contact with Pilates exercise will find that in just 5 minutes, the body will experience fever and sweating. Every movement of Pilates is slow and clear, paying attention to control, stretching, and breathing. Through exercises on the core parts of the body, the body becomes soft and resilient. It makes the body move left and right together, and can gradually correct the bad habit of ordinary people who use the left or the right, and make the body more coordinated and balanced.

The principle of breathing

  1. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Pay attention to the depth of exhalation. Use the side-chest method as much as possible (inhale the abdomen to tighten, the ribs expand outward, and the exhale ribs inward.).
  2. The breathing speed is not easy to be too fast, and it is basically the same as the movement speed. Do not hold your breath for training.
  3. Be careful to exhale when exercising, and inhale when stationary. This can relieve the pressure on the body due to muscle exertion.
  4. By controlling breathing, focus on breathing to reduce people’s sensitivity to muscle soreness.

Principles of body control

  1. The movement speed is slow, which prolongs the time of muscle control, consumes the energy of various parts of the body to a greater extent, and achieves the purpose of fat loss and shaping.
  2. Grasp the posture of the body so that it can experience the stimulation brought to the body by training for a long time.
  3. The fixation of the abdomen and torso is the core of Pilates training.

Essential elements

“Focus, control, center, breathing, fluency, precision”, these 6 words are the basic elements of doing Pilates well.

  1. Focus

Attention is concentrated during training, and the mind controls the body. It is about 5 points: intelligence, intuition, imagination, willpower and memory.

  1. Control

When using core strength and focusing on exercise, the movement is controlled, and uncontrolled movement can cause damage to the body.

  1. Center

That is the core strength of the body, all actions originate from this center (core strength)

  1. Breathing

Actions and breathing must be fully coordinated, and the lungs must be completely emptied of air when exhaling.

  1. Smooth

The movement is smooth, the amplitude between transitions is minimized, and it needs to be completed at a specific rhythm. Nothing is too fast or too slow.

  1. Accurate

Accurate movements can help improve control and correct bad habits and exercise patterns. Quality is greater than quantity, and the ultimate goal is the best effect.

Basic skills training

Before practicing martial arts, you must learn Zama Bu, Pilates also has its basic skills. But rest assured, you don’t need to spend three months to learn the basics, just read them carefully and move them to Pilates’ movements to get the maximum effect of the practice.

Lateral Breathing

Do Pilates and use the lateral breathing method to promote the correct movement pattern while allowing your lungs to absorb the maximum amount of oxygen. When you inhale, the lower part of the rib cage expands horizontally, and when you exhale, it sinks. This breathing can help you keep your abdomen contracted and bent while you exercise.

Sit or stand upright. Place your hands next to the rib cage. Inhale, the rib cage expands horizontally, but the stomach should not rise. Feel the movement of the breastbone. Sink shoulders.

When inhaling, try to sink the rib cage into your body. Feel the breastbone on both sides move closer to the center.


The axis or area of ​​strength refers to a series of muscles that make up and stabilize the center of the body. These muscles include the abdominal muscles (especially the transverse abdominis), the lower back muscles and the pelvic floor muscles. A strong axis can not only reduce the chance of back injury, but also improve posture and adjust the balance of the body. Ordinary people often ignore these muscles. Pilates teaches you to find and use them.

To achieve good axial stability, you need to contract the pelvic floor muscles while pulling in the lower abdomen, which has activated the deep transversus abdominis. The pelvic floor muscles are located at the bottom of the pelvic cavity, and the transversus abdominis muscles are an inner belt that surrounds the lower abdomen and waist. To activate the pelvic floor muscles, tighten the pelvic floor inwards and upwards, which feels a bit like holding urine. When you slowly tighten the pelvic floor muscles, the Multifidus (which is hard to feel) and the abdominal flat knitting machine will contract at the same time. Continuous tightening of the lower abdomen, this contraction must progress upward and inward toward the spine. Don’t use your full strength to shrink, reaching 30% to 40% of complete tightening is the standard strength for cohesive axis.

Shoulders Down/Set

Many people build up pressure on the neck and shoulders. Coupled with bad postures, such as sitting in front of the computer for a long time, arching your back and stretching your head forward, forming an arched and tight upper back over time. The tip of the scapula moves outward away from the sternum bone. Pilates emphasizes the use of mid-back muscles to sink the shoulders to help straighten the upper back.

You can use this little exercise to practice shoulder weighting. At the beginning, he shrugged his shoulders and put them down several times. Note that when you shrug your shoulders, the tip of your scapula moves outward. When the shoulders are lowered, the tip of the scapula is retracted downward and inward. We use this movement to fix the position of the shoulders. By sinking the tip of your shoulder blade to the midline of your lower back, you will feel the neck stretch naturally at the same time, reducing the pressure and tension of the neck and shoulders.

Torso Box

Imagine four straight lines connecting the two shoulders with the two pelvic bones. This “box” is a reminder of body alignment and symmetry. When doing every Pilates exercise, ask yourself: “Is my box square?” Many people habitually rely on one side of the body, and you can even notice that you are leaning or turning to one side. When doing various daily activities, one side of the body often feels easy to control. Pilates make you more aware of these imbalances, and then correct them.

Chin into Chest

Most cushioned Pilates movements involve raising the head and hands and feet in a supine position. The correct head position is very important to increase the use of the abdominal muscles and reduce the pressure on the neck. The head should be lifted forward to the collarbone, and the chin should be pressed into the breastbone. There should be about a fist’s distance between the chin and chest, and the line of sight should be fixed on the axis. Lifting your head in this way will also help you to check the alignment of your torso and feet with your eyes during exercise. A common mistake made by beginners is to put the chin too close to the breastbone, or lift the head back, and feel neck pain.

Lengthening the Spine and Limbs

Pilates and dance teachers often ask students to “lengthen the spine” and “grow taller”. Can adults “grow taller” like this? So it’s okay! The study pointed out that only with simple verbal instructions, participants can really extend the spine and reduce the compression between the spine. There are two key positions that can help you “grow taller”. First, increase the distance between the pelvic bone and the chest bone. In addition, pull the head away from the direction of the tail keel. When you learn to “grow tall”, you must learn to maintain this height. Pilates is to wake up those muscles that maintain a sitting and standing posture.

As for extending the limbs, it helps to strengthen the muscles of the limbs. Pay attention to the alignment of the limbs and do not lock the elbow and knee joints.

The position of the natural axis of the spine and pelvis Neutral Spine/ Neutral Pelvis

The natural axis positions of the spine and pelvis are complementary. When the pelvis is in the natural central axis, the lower back spine will automatically fall into its central axis position. To find the position of the natural axis of your pelvis, place the bottom of your palm on the pelvis, with your fingertips on the pubic bone, forming a triangle. When this triangle is horizontal, the pelvis and lower back are in the natural central axis (see Figure A). Try to keep this natural central axis position in every Pilates movement.

Rolling/ Peeling the Spine

A healthy spine must not only be strong, but also soft. Many exercises of cushion Pilates focus on the average movement of the spine. We use the words “scrolling the spine” and “removing section by section” in this book to bring out a clear and controlled movement pattern of the spine.

Pilates Stance

The ankles meet to form a V. Pilates stance starts at the basin. You should tighten your buttocks, press the back of your thighs tightly to each other, turn your thigh bones outward from the pelvic cavity, and then open your feet into a V shape. Although the hips and thighs are tightened, the calves and feet should be relaxed and extended.


One of the characteristics of cushion Pilates is to participate and focus on their activity patterns. A common method is to focus on a group of muscles or areas in the activity. But Pilates requires you to expand your concentration range, and you should pay attention to the static body parts, and realize that the body is actually an integrated activity. In this way, your movements can be more effective and more balanced.

Common Postures

  1. Leg Circles

Lie flat on the mat with your arms on your sides. Raise one leg up first, and place the other straight or bent on the ground. Tighten your abdomen and close your waist to the ground. When inhaling, use the raised leg to make a circle, either forward or backward. When you exhale, return to the starting point and stop. Do this 4-6 times in one direction, then change the direction and do 4-6 times again.

Tip: Don’t wrap your legs too much during the process, and keep your hips and hip joints still.

Function: This set of movements exercises the leg muscles, which can keep the legs beautifully curved. At the same time, the coordinated breathing can reasonably adjust the visceral function, making the movements more flexible and coordinated.

2. Single Leg Stretch

Lift your upper body, lift your shoulders off the ground, straighten your left leg, and bend your right leg. Embrace the ankle with the outer hand of the right leg and the knee with the inner hand, and breathe once. Change legs and repeat. In this way, the left and right sides are exchanged 8 to 10 times.

Tip: Do not relax your upper body during the whole process, and keep your upper back off the ground.

Function: This set of actions makes the body more coordinated, and at the same time exercises the toughness of the upper part of the body and the flexibility of the abdominal muscles, spine and bones.

  1. Double Leg Stretch

Lift up your upper body, bring your knees to your chest, and tighten your body. Then put your hands around your knees, inhale, and stretch your body. While breathing, retract the body to a tight state. Repeat 6 to 10 times.

Tip: Keep the upper body unchanged during the action, and leave your shoulders off the ground. When you open your body, your arms should move from the front to the top, and when you retract, you should retract from the side and tuck your knees.

Function: This is a set of stretching movements, similar to swimming movements, which can stretch the body and body joints and get complete relaxation.

  1. Side Kick

Lie on your side with your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Tuck your legs forward slightly, push the toes of your left leg to the ground, raise your heel, raise your right leg to the same height as your hips, inhale and stretch your right leg back, pinch your hips, and kick forward twice as you exhale. Change legs and repeat. Do 6-8 times on each side.

Tips: Should relax your shoulders during the action, and the upper body should not relax.

Function: It can strengthen upper limb muscles, including chest muscles, upper back muscles and transversus abdominis, while improving muscle flexibility.

  1. Hold Up

The position of the hands and feet is fixed, the legs are bent, the left leg is in the front and the right leg is in the back. When you inhale, support your body with one arm. At this time, your whole body straightens up in a line and slowly falls when you exhale. Change leg exercises. Do each 4 to 5 times.

Tip: Slow movement and strong control. If you have difficulty in finishing, you can use your elbow joint to support it on the ground.

Function: This is about the exercise of body balance, which can make the body stronger. At the same time exercised the flexibility of the joints of the legs.

Other postures

  1. Upright Pilates

This exercise changes the traditional exercise on the mat. The entire exercise process is carried out in an upright posture.

Separate your feet and hip-width apart, with your arms straight and up, palms facing each other. Straighten your right foot and raise your right leg at a 45-degree angle to your left foot. Draw 3 circles with your right foot in a clockwise direction. In this process, the crotch is balanced. Then reverse. After completion, retract your right foot to the ground, lift your right foot to the right, bend the instep, and draw a circle in both directions. Repeat the right foot movement with the left foot.

Role: This exercise is a great way to build up your legs and buttocks. At the same time, standing upright can improve the balance and agility of the body.

  1. Fitness ball Pilates

This kind of exercise is always carried out on a fitness ball.

Kneel on the floor, leaning against a large exercise ball on the right side of the body. Extend your left foot to support your body, while your right foot is still kneeling on the ground. Put your right hand on the ball, bend your left arm, put your left elbow behind your head, and support your neck. Bend to the side, try to touch the left hip with your left elbow, and return when you can no longer get close. Do it 8 to 12 times in total. Then do it on the other side.

Function: It is beneficial to shape the muscles of the abdomen, hips, buttocks and lower waist, and can also establish good balance and coordination.

  1. Elastic rope Pilates

A bungee cord is needed during this set of actions.

Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight and your instep bent. Wrap the bungee cord around your feet and grab both ends of the bungee cord with both hands. Take a deep breath and try to press your belly button against your spine. Exhale deeply, contract your biceps, lift your hands toward your chest, and curl your back little by little. Inhale deeply, then exhale deeply as you slowly lie back on the floor. Inhale deeply and put your hands down. Repeat the above action 5 to 10 times.

Function: It can exercise the flexibility of the muscles of the chest, back and arms.

  1. Small Ball Pilates

First prepare a soft leather ball with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm.

Lie on your back on the floor and clamp the ball with your ankles. Raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the ground. Slowly rotate your legs, draw a circle the size of a plate in the air, turn clockwise and counterclockwise 10 times, palms down, and place them on your sides. Keep your back straight when turning your legs.

Function: It has a certain effect on shaping the curves of hips, hips and outer thighs.

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