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Pilates: Everything about gentle strength training

Pilates is an intensive but gentle strength training with a focus on the core of the body. Here you will find all information about the training method and the best tips for beginners.

What is Pilates?

When it comes to Pilates, many initially think of a special form of yoga, just without the dog looking down and the “Om” at the end. Slow, not very strenuous and especially suitable for women - these and other prejudices hold up well. Here you can Pilates exercises With the right guidance, it can be extremely demanding and just as effective as a functional training or HIIT session.

Pilates combined Full body workout - Exercises such as crunches, forearm or side supports, floor scales and pelvic lifts - with one flowing breathing. You combine the exhalation with the tension, the inhalation is synchronized with the relaxation. This is said to have a strengthening effect on the body and calming on the mind. The focus is always on the center of the body, the so-called "Powerhouse“: From the ribs to the pelvis, all muscles in the upper body are strengthened through slow, highly concentrated movements.

Is the inventor of the holistic workout Joseph Hubertus Pilates. He made a name for himself in the First World War because he trained the sick in the hospital so that they could recover more quickly. To do this, he developed a large wooden frame with a spring - optically a mixture of a stretching board and a rowing machine. This device comes in a modern form, known by the name reformer, still used today in many Pilates studios.

What does Pilates do?

Anyone who has ever been in contact with Pilates is sure to know the term Powerhouse. So that's that Body center meant that the participants start everyone Pilates exercise activate.

The power center of our body is in the powerhouse. It is not without reason that Joseph Hubertus Pilates' motto was: "All strength comes from the core of the body."

The powerhouse includes the entire abdominal muscles - anterior, lateral and posterior abdominal wall - as well as the pelvic floor and the lower Back muscles

What makes Pilates so effective: You not only train the superficial, but specifically yours Deep muscles. At the same time, your muscles in the upper and lower body also work, which makes Pilates the ideal full-body workout.

These are the other positive effects of Pilates:

  • You define your muscles and strengthen your entire body without putting any strain on your joints.
  • You improve your posture.
  • You increase your general flexibility.
  • You prevent discomfort, especially in the hip and shoulder area.
  • You develop a better body feeling.

Tip: Pilates is particularly effective in combination with a balanced diet rich in protein and carbohydrates, including all the important vitamins and minerals. For the daily vitamin dose, there are our Daily Vitamins or our Vitamin Drops.

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Pilates Exercises: The Six Basic Principles

Each Pilates unit follows six basic principles, after which its inventor Joseph Pilates worked. They are based on Far Eastern training methods such as martial arts and yoga:

  1. centering: The focus is on stabilizing the core of the body. Every exercise and movement in Pilates begins with the activation of the body center.
  2. breathing: Quiet, flowing breathing synchronized with the movements should ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to the muscles.
  3. control: The movements in Pilates are carried out slowly, consciously and in a controlled manner. The goal is always a technically flawless execution with simultaneous tension in the core of the body.
  4. concentration: In Pilates, the focus is on the working muscles and breathing. This helps to carry out the movements precisely and with concentration.
  5. precision: Every Pilates exercise has a fixed sequence with clear instructions. It is important to follow these as precisely as possible, true to the motto “quality instead of quantity”.
  6. Flow of movement: With Pilates you are always in a state of flux. This is ensured by dynamic transitions between the exercises and flowing breathing. Each participant can determine the speed of the movements himself.

Exercises that await you in Pilates are dynamic exercises such as crunches, arm and leg raises in the quadruped position or the shoulder bridge with pelvic lifts. There is also Holding exercises: For example plank variants such as the forearm and side support or the V-seat with legs outstretched and the upper body leaning back.

What do you do in a Pilates class?

A Pilates class usually lasts between 45 and 75 minutes. After a warm-up, the teacher shows different ones one after the other Pilates exercises and sequences of movements that your Powerhouse activate and train your upper and lower body at the same time.

In addition, you can use targeted Breathing exercises and Stretching sessions Be part of a Pilates class. Finally, there is a cool-down to relax your stressed muscles.

You can do Pilates on the mat, only with the own body weight, work out. Many teachers also incorporate small aids into their courses. The most common Pilates equipment are balls, resistance bands, resistance rings as well as balance rollers and rockers. These tools provide variety and also help to improve fine motor skills, coordination and your own body awareness.

If that's not intense enough, you can find a special one Pilates reformer course attend, in which the participants train their muscles under supervision on the large equipment. The prerequisite for this is a certain basic tension in the muscles. If you are brand new to Pilates, it is better to start with pure “matwork” (workout on the mat).

Tip for beginners: You can learn Pilates in a studio near you, but of course also online with the help of video tutorials. However, so that you can perform the individual positions correctly from the start, it makes sense for beginners to be introduced to the practice by a trained trainer. This way you avoid unnecessary injuries and don't lose the fun of training.

A list of certified trainers is available from the German Pilates Association, for example.

What is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

Pilates is based in its basic principles on the Far Eastern yoga practice, but the teachings are fundamentally different from one another.

The main differences are:

originYoga is considered a philosophical teaching from India and is already thousands of years old.Pilates is of German origin and was developed at the beginning of the 20th century as a training method for healing war wounded.
breathingDuring yoga exercises, breathing is almost exclusively through the nose.In Pilates, participants usually breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth.
Exercise sequenceThe individual poses (asanas) are held over several breaths or combined with one another in a flowing sequence of movements (flow).The transitions between the Pilates sequences can be fluid, but repetitions and counting times are used within the individual exercises.
spiritualityIn addition to exercises for physical fitness, meditations, mindfulness exercises and self-reflection are an important part of yoga. Yoga was originally developed in order to be able to dwell longer in meditation.Pilates is only marginally about mindfulness. The focus is on the gentle build-up of strength. It's all about the powerhouse, i.e. training your pelvis, stomach and lower back.


Tip: If you are still undecided whether yoga or Pilates is better for you, you can Yogilates try out. The training concept is a mixture of disciplines that combines exercises and movements from both teachings.

Who is Pilates for?

Pilates is suitable for everyone who wants to do something for their flexibility and especially wants to develop their core muscles. Many strength and martial arts athletes, but also dancers swear by that holistic training as a complement to their main discipline.

Pilates can be the right thing for you, too, if you are looking for an intense but calm strength training that improves your posture and yours mobility increases.

Just before, during and after pregnancy Pilates is also a good option to get around the Strengthen the pelvic floor.


  • Pilates is an intensive but gentle weight training for the whole body.
  • The focus of Pilates exercises is on the powerhouse, the core of the body is always active during training.
  • With Pilates you especially train your deep muscles in the area of ​​the abdomen, pelvic floor and lower back.
  • Pilates improves posture, promotes flexibility and strengthens the entire musculoskeletal system.
  • Pilates exercises follow six basic principles: centering, breathing, control, concentration, precision and flow of movement.
  • In contrast to yoga, Pilates manages without spiritual elements such as meditation and self-reflection. The focus is on physical fitness.
  • Pilates is particularly suitable for women before, during and after pregnancy to strengthen the pelvic floor.
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