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Pilates Philosophy

Joseph Pilates’ philosophy, as stated in his 1945 book Return To Life, is a vision of health and well-being that gives a context to his exercises. Three guiding principles: Whole Body Health, Whole Body Commitment, Breath.


Whole Body Health

“Physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.” (p 15)

Whole Body Health refers to the development of the body, the mind and the spirit in complete coordination with each other. Mr. Pilates wrote that the Whole Body Health could be achieved through exercise, proper diet, good hygiene and sleeping habits, plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and a balance in life of work, recreation and relaxation.


Whole Body Commitment

“To achieve the highest accomplishment within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life, we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability.” (p 15)

“Faithfully perform your Contrology exercises only four times a week for just three months…you will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed mental vigor and spiritual enhancement.”  (p 18)

Whole Body Commitment is mental and physical discipline, a work ethic, an attitude toward one’s self and assuming a lifestyle that is necessary to achieve Whole Body Health.



“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly”*…

*Joseph Pilates as told to Ron Fletcher

The breath is an integral part of overall body functioning, increasing volume capacity, oxygenation and other physiological changes. Full consistent inhalation helps the circulatory system nourish all the tissues with oxygen-rich blood while carrying away impurities and metabolic wast. Pilates Referred to this cleansing mechanism as the “internal shower” which results in mental and physical invigoration and rejuvenation.


 The Pilates Movement Principals

“physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind, fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied tasks within spontaneous zest and pleasure.” (p 15)

Pilate named his movement regime “Contrology.” The natural movement, based on observation of babies and quadruped animals, are practiced under strict control of the will. the mind and the body must actively engage to achieve physical fitness in the Pilates exercise regime.

The Movement Principals are elements that are present in the successful performance of all the Pilates exercises:

  • Whole Body Movement
  • Breathing
  • Balanced Muscle Development
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centering
  • Precision
  • Rhythm

THe body is organized to move by CENTERING. BALANCED MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT allows efficient movement and proper joint mechanics. Constant mental CONCENTRATION is required to fully develop the body. PRECISION, meaning exact, defined, specific, intentional movement, is necessary for correct form. only a few repetitions of each exercise are appropriate so that each repetition can be performed with a greatest CONTROL, using only the necessary muscles and effort necessary for each movement. BREATHING promotes natural movement and RHYTHM and stimulates muscles to greater activity. Performance of the Pilates exercises is distinguished by always using the WHOLE BODY.


Goals and Benefits

“One of the major results of Contrology is gaining the mastery of the mind over the complete control of your body.” (p 19)

The Guiding Principles and Movement Principles facilitates long-term goal achievement. The benefits are both measurable and perceived:

  • Coordination
  • Strength
  • Mobility
  • Efficient movement
  • Flowing movement
  • Proper posture
  • Mental and spiritual rejuvenation
  • Self awareness
  • Self confidence
  • Restoration of natural animal movement
  • Integration of mind, body, & spirit
  • Sense of well-being
  • Enhance quality of life



Text Taken from The Pilates Method Alliance Study Guide