Joseph Pilates (pi-lah-tis) developed a complete body-conditioning program for dancers and the rehabilitating soldiers from World War 1.
In his New York studio in the 1920's, his main clientele consisted of ballet dancers, who found the exercises added strength to their bodies without adding bulk. Mr. Pilates himself never developed an exercise program; however, today many programs are based on his techniques.
Pilates are not considered a conventional method of exercise. Seven different pieces of equipment are used, along with mat exercises.
The exercises teach movement through space by acquiring correct body alignment, correct breathing patterns and controlled graceful movements.
Muscles are worked through their full range of motion in many different combinations, resulting in long, lean muscles. Pilates require mind control over body and are often referred to as the thinking person's exercises.
Note: If you have back problems, individualized training is highly recommended if you wish to try Pilates.