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The 'method' behind Pilates

By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News

Romana Kryzanowska is a protégé of Joseph Pilates and has her own Pilates video series.
HLN Fitness
Joseph Pilates

(CNN) -- Pilates is one of the most popular fitness trends today.

Originally developed in the early 1900's by Joseph Pilates as a form of rehabilitation, the "method" as it was also known, was soon adopted by George Balanchine's New York City Ballet dancers as part of their regular training.

These days, Pilates is synonymous with "core" training, because the various exercises use and strengthen the muscles in the abdomen, back, upper legs and buttocks. Method exercises also encourage increased flexibility, joint mobility and range-of-motion.

While many experts recommend that Pilates first-timers take a live class with an instructor certified in the method, many home exercisers have turned to exercise videos to get their core in shape.

For those who like their Pilates pure, videos in the Romana's Pilates series offer step-by-step instruction from Romana Kryzanowska, a protégé of Joseph Pilates. In addition to learning Pilates as Joe taught it, the videos also feature a documentary with vintage footage of Pilates and Romana from over 60 years ago, and it offers an interesting historical perspective what is now a hot fitness trend.

If you don't want to give up your yoga practice for Pilates, some instructors like Jonathan Urla might offer a solution. His "Yogilates" videos I, II, and III offer a progressively more challenging blend of both yoga and Pilates.

And for fitness enthusiasts short on time, "Progressive Pilates -- Four 10-Minute Target-Tone Workouts" by Liz Gillies and "10 Minute Solution Pilates" both feature several 10-minute Pilates workouts broken down by body part, including abdominal, upper body and lower body workouts.

Whether you choose a class format or exercise video, experts caution that proper form is critical when performing Pilates, not only to reap the physical benefits, but also to avoid injury.

Remember, it's always wise to check with your physician before attempting any new exercise program.

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