The Pilates Method

What is Pilates?

Pilates (pronounced puh-lah-teez and not pie-lates) is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor, but also as an important adjunct to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds.

Did you know?

The Pilates Method is named after its inventor, Joseph H. Pilates, a fitness and conditioning enthusiast born in Germany in 1883

Having emigrated to the US in 1926, Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara taught in their New York City studio serving a small and devoted list of clients in relative obscurity. In recent decades however, the Pilates Method has been embraced by mainstream culture around the world, and the word “Pilates” is now a household name.

Pilates classes are most commonly delivered in three formats – group Mat classes, group Reformer classes, and private or small group studio classes where the client works on the full range of apparatus Pilates invented, such as the Reformer, Trapeze Table, Ladder Barrel, Wunda Chair or Spine Corrector.

In recent decades, Pilates has achieved recognition and embrace by mainstream culture; it has made its way to stardom having been adopted by top celebrities; Reformer classes are popular in gyms, studios and health centers; and Pilates Mat classes now offer another option for those seeking relaxation and the benefits of exercise. The word Pilates is no longer strange to most people, and the recognition is global. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor, but also as an important adjunct to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds.

“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.” – Joseph H. Pilates

Clara Pilates

While Joseph Pilates was the outspoken force behind his method, his wife Clara quietly incorporated his concepts and exercises in ways that benefited more seriously ill or injured clients. Her approachable style and special techniques spawned a dedicated lineage of teachers whose work flows through and uniquely colors the landscape of the Pilates Method today.

Pilates Method Alliance

The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) is the not-for-profit professional association dedicated to the Pilates field. It was established in 2001, is located in Miami, Florida, and has thousands of members all over the world. The PMA offers a range of programs, initiatives and events. Its mission is to advance Pilates as a profession and to promote and perpetuate the teachings of Joseph H. and Clara Pilates. Significantly, the PMA endeavors to establish standards for the industry for both the instruction of the method and the education of Pilates teachers.

Creating Standards for Pilates Teachers

In 2005, the PMA launched the only third-party certification program for Pilates teachers. Initially titled the PMA Pilates Certification Program, its name was changed in 2019 to the National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP) changed its name and rebranded to better represent its status as the only nationally accredited certification program for Pilates. This accreditation by the NCCA (National Commission on Certifying Agencies), was achieved in 2012 and represents a milestone for standard setting in the Pilates industry. Following established norms, the NPCP administers a psychometrically constructed assessment that establishes competency in Pilates teaching with the intention of ensuring public safety.

This exam is the only independent measure of Pilates teaching competency available today. The number of Nationally Certified Pilates Teachers (NCPTs) is growing quickly with Pilates teachers around the world embracing this common standard of competency and safety as a mark of professionalism.