Researchers Identify a Definition of Pilates

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 01, 2013

Mind-Body-Spirit News

A source of tension in the Pilates community, as in many movement disciplines, is how to balance traditional training techniques with new, evidence-based principles. Today, Pilates is practiced worldwide as an exercise method for improving performance, promoting well-being and rehabilitating injured bodies. Scientists, for their part, are involved in the ongoing verification of its benefits. To improve the validity of future studies, researchers from the University of Western Sydney in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia, wanted to determine a consensus understanding of what Pilates is. To this end, they compared definitions of Pilates in studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Based on their review of the scientific literature, they proposed a definition of Pilates as “a mind-body exercise that requires core stability, strength, and flexibility, and attention to muscle control, posture, and breathing.” The researchers noted that the only traditional Pilates principle mentioned in studies of people with low-back pain was breathing. The findings were published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2012; 20, 253–62). Study authors noted that more clinical research was needed to validate the definition.

Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 4

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at