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A system of training introduced by the German boxer and circus performer, Joseph Pilates. Pilates is designed to strengthen the whole body without undue strain or injury, and is particularly popular among dancers and other performers. A key concept of Pilates is that it is performed with ‘core stability’ in which an exercise platform is provided by a stable trunk or midsection. The exercises can be done on a variety of surfaces, such as mats and swiss balls. Alternatively, the exerciser can be supported on a special Pilates machine fitted with springs, the tension of which can be varied to suit the user. During Pilates, the emphasis is on relaxed, rhythmic breathing while performing smooth, coordinated movements. The movements, based on yoga and dance exercises, are particularly good at strengthening the stomach, thigh and buttock muscles. The resistances are relatively low so that the exerciser is more likely to develop a sleek appearance, rather than a muscular physique. Pilates has a low risk of injury because there are virtually no impact forces on the joints and bones. This makes Pilates suitable for people of a wide fitness range, but it is generally not sufficiently vigorous to improve aerobic fitness.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.

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