Six Principles of Pilates

Six Principles of Pilates

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Pilates is a fluid system of exercise.

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Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen your “powerhouse,” or core. Joseph Pilates originally called his exercises contrology because of the mind-body connection needed to execute the moves properly and effectively. Pilates indicated six primary ruling principles that infuse his method of exercise. Understanding these principles helps you to get more out of a Pilates workout.


Concentration in Pilates means you pay close attention to how your muscles react during each exercise. This principle is what makes Pilates a true “mind-body” exercise. Putting focus on the particular muscle being worked can bring about better results.


No movement in Pilates is done haphazardly. Pilates believed that sloppy movements could lead to injury. In Pilates, you may do just three to five repetitions of each exercise - but each is done with such control that you are never just going through the motions.


The center in Pilates refers to the core, comprised of the muscles of the lower back, abdominals and buttocks. Your energy emanates from the energy of the center and flows outward to the periphery. The concept of centering also implies that you work both your right and left side equally.

Fluidity or Flow

Exercises in Pilates are performed seamlessly and flow from one to the next. Fluidity means there is an absence of static or jerky movements. When done correctly, Pilates exercises blend together like a waltz.


In Pilates exercises, every move is precisely designed for maximum effectiveness. You can spend years learning proper alignment, body position and limb placement. Each exercise is taught in great detail, with no one detail being disposable.


Full exhalations and inhalations are essential to the Pilates method. Proper breathing can help you precisely execute each exercise and energize you for the next. Holding your breath is discouraged.

Three Additional Principles

Three additional principles are less commonly discussed, but are at the core of the Pilates method. The principle of imagination refers to the way in which the body can be triggered into physical response. During a Pilates workout, visualization can help you better execute the exercise. For example, you can visualize straps holding your legs in place or a weight strapped across your midsection to help you maintain stability. Pilates also involves the principle of intuition, which means you listen to your body and progress at your own pace. The final principle of integration involves viewing your body as a whole. Each Pilates exercise involves activating multiple muscles, enabling your body to work as a whole - not addressing muscles in isolation.