Jospeh Pilates developed his concept in England whilst interred during the First World War, basing his principles on yoga and Tai Chi.

Whilst working at a hospital he began devising equipment to rehabilitate his patients, taking springs from beds and rigging them to create resistance.

Pilates is mainly taught on a mat, sometimes using specialist equipment that has changed little from the original hospital bedsprings.

Practiced faithfully Pilates yields numerous benefits, including increased lung capacity, strength, flexibility, posture and balance.
women in the gym doing yoga exercise for fitness

The balance and control taught in Pilates helps in all areas of ones life. His methods are so successful that all types of people now use them from ballet dancers to rugby players.

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Read the bestseller – Pilates for Life by Darcy Bussell

Pilates – how to be superfit age 50+


Though sometimes we may care not to admit it, we all know that regular exercise can help keep us fit and healthy.

But if you still haven’t joined the gym, started playing a sport or just haven’t had time to build more activity into your daily life, there’s good news. According to experts, it’s not too late to start getting active on a regular basis – even if you’re pushing 50.

In a paper published in the British Medical Journal (i), researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden report how they quizzed more than 2,000 men aged 50 and over about their activity levels. What they discovered was those who upped their activity levels in their 50s enjoyed similar life-extending benefits as those who were already regular exercisers by the time they reached middle age.

In fact, those who went from being low to moderate exercisers when they were younger to regular exercisers between the age of 50 to 60 were more likely to live longer than those who were already doing high levels of activity at that age. The effect on lifespan, say the researchers, is the same as giving up smoking.

“Increased physical activity in middle age is eventually followed by a reduction in mortality to the same level as seen among men with constantly high physical activity,” the report concludes. “This reduction is comparable with that associated with smoking cessation.”

The survey defines ‘heavy’ activity as hard physical training, competitive sport, active recreational sports and heavy gardening for at least three hours a week. But if the mere thought of three hours’ heavy sports training leaves you feeling weak at the knees, another way to increase your activity levels – whatever your age – is to practise an exercise method such as Pilates.

Lengthening and strengthening

Developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, Pilates is an exercise system that originally attracted performance professionals such as actors, dancers and athletes. Today, however, it is practised by ordinary people in gyms, exercise studios, church halls and living rooms all over the world, thanks to the way it effectively lengthens and strengthens all the body’s muscle groups.

And since it aims to strengthen core stability as well as improve posture and flexibility, Pilates is ideal for older exercisers with back and joint problems – not to mention those who are want to avoid them in later life too.

However, so that seasoned and inexperienced exercisers alike can find out exactly what happens in the body during the classic series of Pilates exercises, Paul Massey – a UK-based Pilates instructor and physiotherapist – has written The Anatomy of Pilates (Lotus Publishing, £14.99).

The Anatomy of Pilates, which contains 150 full-colour anatomical illustrations, is divided in to chapters on the principles of the Pilates Method, posture and movement assessment, and application of the Pilates Method – with a chapter on the classic series of exercises.

Along with detailed anatomical illustrations, each exercise in the series includes the following:

• Full description of how the exercise performed
• Objectives of the exercise
• Tips on what to concentrate on
• How the breathing pattern works
• Checkpoints
• Pitfalls

Each exercise also comes with list of which muscles are involved – for instance, Spine Stretch Forward, which is used to stretch the spine and back extensors, involves the lower abdominals, hamstrings, back extensors, psoas and hip flexors.

And if you don’t have a degree in anatomy, the illustrations show you exactly where each muscle is and how it moves during the exercise.

“If you’re practising Pilates and you want to know more about it and how it works to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, The Anatomy of Pilates is exactly what you need,” claims the author.

The Anatomy of Pilates, priced from £14.99 and available from www.amazon.co.uk Waterstones and Lotus Publishing – www.lotuspublishing.co.uk

About the author

Paul Massey is a leading physiotherapist in private practice as well as a Pilates instructor. Massey works closely with governing bodies of track and field, swimming, and hockey, both at home and internationally, and has attended numerous Olympic Games and World Championships. He received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award in 2000. He lectures worldwide on sports injuries and Pilates, and has written or co-written several books on the subject, including Sports Pilates: How to Prevent and Overcome Sports Injuries and The Pilates Prescription for Back Pain.


(i) Liisa Byberg, Håkan Melhus, Rolf Gedeborg, Johan Sundström, Anders Ahlbom, Björn Zethelius, Lars G Berglund, Alicja Wolk, Karl Michaëlsson. “Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort.” BMJ 2009;338:b688, doi: 10.1136/bmj.b688

Get a sleek & slinky body with Tenpilates


Pilates has always been famous for its power to sculpt the body, create lean, toned muscles and boost core strength. Which is essential not just for a flat tummy but also to help prevent back and neck problems, by supporting the spine.

Now, TenPilates takes the original system of Pilates – which is almost 100 years old – to create a more dynamic style of workout, offering all of the celebrated benefits of Pilates but giving it a high-energy, cardiovascular dimension that catapults your endorphins to new love yourself levels. Traditional Pilates moves are combined with techniques from circuit and weight-training to isolate and work specific muscle groups with extra intensity. The result? An innovative, results-driven programme that burns fat, strengthens core muscle groups and slims the body faster than you ever thought possible, burning up to 650 calories per hour. You will leave class feeling taller, sexier and energised.

TenPilates students work on state-of-the-art Body Balance reformers, not on the mat – with the Reformer springs offering muscular resistance while helping to maintain stability.

TenPilates is suitable for ‘Pilates virgins’ – with specific beginners’ classes each week. It’s great for men (who benefit hugely from improvements in their flexibility). And it maintains the Pilates tradition as the perfect exercise option for rehabilitation, after injury or illness. (Joseph Pilates originally developed the system of exercise while interned during World War I, later using it for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers.) Today, TenPilates instructors – with their in-depth understanding of anatomy and physiology – can help tailor a regime specifically for a client’s rehabilitation, helping to engage, retrain and ‘re-programme’ muscles. Bad postural habits can be banished, in the same way. In fact, TenPilates can be utilised as a solution for everything from depression to chronic back pain to a post-pregnancy, less-than-pancake-flat tummy, (or to simply add variety to your training routine).

One of the great advantages of TenPilates’ approach is that it is constantly evolving much like the individual. No two classes are alike – unlike most reformer work, which can be highly repetitive. With so many forms of exercise, in fact, it can be hard to stay motivated. But as many of TenPilates devoted clients can attest, with this dynamic form of Pilates the opposite is true – with TenPilates’ instructors offering any help they need to stay focussed. (In fact, there are some TenPilates ‘addicts’ who come to class every single day. And definitely have the bodies-to-die-for, to prove it…)

Reformer Pilates has become extremely popular with professional footballers, cricketers and rugby players who are turning to this form of exercise to add flexibility and core strengthening to their existing fitness regimes. And it’s no surprise that ‘dynamic’ Pilates has become the workout of choice of many Hollywood A-listers, where your body – as well as your face – is your fortune.

So isn’t it time you discovered the power of TenPilates…?