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Body Control Pilates pilates

Body Control Pilates is an exercise method that relies on strengthening core postural muscles and developing body alignment. It avoids the muscle and ligament damage, sometimes associated with other fitness regimes. The aim of Body Control Pilates is not to develop bulging muscles or cardiovascular fitness but to help your whole body (respiratory, lymphatic & circulatory systems) operate in an effective and efficient manner. The method of exercise has its origins in the work of the late Joseph Pilates, who was born in 1880 near Düsseldorf, Germany.


Central to the method is 'awareness of your own body' and each exercise is built around its eight basic principles:

  • Relaxation
    • how to release tension
  • Concentration
    • being aware of each movement and developing your kinaesthetic sense
  • coCrdination
    • managing the breathing and movement
  • Centering
    • "zip up and hollow" drawing up and in the muscles of the pelvic floor and hollowing the lower abdomen back towards the spine - (see Core Stability for details of how to "zip up and hollow")
  • Alignment
    • achieving a good posture
  • Breathing
    • making proper use of the lungs (lateral breathing)
  • Stamina
    • achieved with the use of muscles more efficiently through good posture and breathing
  • Flowing Movements
    • moving without strain or stress

Through the application of these principals in the exercises 'core stability' is achieved, and then maintained, through increasingly complex movement sequences.

The 6 C's

The following are the six principles Larsen (2005)[1] believes defines Pilates.


That all-important mind-body connection. A conscious focus on movement enhances body awareness. Focusing the brain on the body part enhances proprioception (the fine-tuned sense of how bits of your body move).


It is not about intensity, it is about the empowerment of being able to have a definite and positive impact on a body part through the activation of critical stability muscles. Ideal technique brings safe, effective results.


A focus on the specific muscles that stabilise the pelvis and the scapula underlie the development of a strong core and enable the rest of the body to function efficiently. The correct muscles must be taught to hold for extended periods at a low level. Consequently, all action starts from a stable core.

Conscious breathing

Deep, conscious diaphragmatic patterns of inhaling initiate any movement, help to activate deep stabilising muscles and keep you focused.

Core alignment

Maintaining a 'neutral' position (joints held in mid-position by deep stabilising muscles) is the key to proper alignment, and this leads to good posture. You will be aware of the position of your head and neck on the spine and pelvis, right down through to the legs and toes.


Rowing movement results from brain and body working perfectly in synergy, the aim is smooth, continuous motion, rather than jarring repetitions. Pilates has a grace and elegance to its movement that comes from working 'smarter', not 'harder'. Repetition is used to 'program' good movement into your brain.

The benefits

Body Control Pilates is beneficial for

  • General fitness and body awareness
  • Injury prevention
  • Improvement of a technique for athletes
  • Remedial and rehabilitation work
  • Pregnancy - ante and post-natal
  • The elderly
  • For children from 12 years old

and helps to

  • Increase and create a balance between strength and flexibility
  • Create an awareness of and strengthen dynamic stability
  • Improve coordination
  • Release stress
  • Improve posture


  1. LARSEN, U. (2005) Why pilates works, and why we should worry about its trendiness. Peak Performance, 216, p. 5-6

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • CALDWELLl, K. et al. (2013) Pilates, mindfulness and somatic education. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 5 (2), p. 141-153
  • SILER, B. (2013) The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates: The Essential Guide to Total-Body Fitness. Rodale
  • D CRUZ, T. M. F. et al. (2014) Does Pilates Training Change Physical Fitness in Young Basketball Athletes? Journal of Exercise Physiology17 (1), p. 19.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Body Control Pilates [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Stretching Stretching