Pilates is a workout program developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany, the UK, and the USA. Pilates is often referred to as “contrology” (from control in Greek) because it is believed that this method uses the mind to control the muscles. There are typically six principles associated with Pilates workouts:

  1. Concentration: Pilates requires intense focus and concentration so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment. This factor of concentration is commonly believed to provide relief from the degenerative symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Control: “Contrology” was Joseph Pilates’ preferred name for his method and it is based on the idea of muscle control. All Pilates exercises are done with muscle control working to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs and thereby control the movement of the body and the apparatus. The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.
  3. Centering: The center – encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs – is called the “powerhouse,” and is the focal point of the Pilates Method. All movement in Pilates should begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs.
  4. Flow of Movement: Pilates aims for elegant sufficiency of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. Pilates is flowing movement outward from a strong core.
  5. Precision: Precision is essential to correct Pilates. Concentrating on the correct movements each time you exercise, is what adds benefit and results to the exercise. The ultimate goal of Pilates precision is to encourage the participant to carry the principle over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.
  6. Breathing: Breathing is crucial in the Pilates method. Joseph Pilates saw forced exhalation as the key to full inhalation. Proper full inhalation and complete exhalation are key to this.

Today, there are a wide-range of Pilates trainings available. The following is a list of popular at-home Pilates training videos:

Pilates Method

    • This two volume set is led by Jennifer Kries and focuses on shaping the body while strengthening the abs and back. The mat work is geared towards both beginners and those who’ve done Pilates before. Jennifer demonstrates each move and offers form-pointers and easy-to-follow instructions for the most effective workout.

Mari Winsor Pilates

    • Mari Winsor is a dancer, teacher, author, and the foremost Pilates instructor in the world. Her signature workout style “dynamic sequencing” is a low-intensity body sculpting and calorie-burning workout. Mari is the owner of two Pilates studios in Santa Monica and Hollywood, California and is known for her many high profile clients. Mari and the majority of her trainers are Romana’s Pilates certified.

Stott Pilates

    • Moira Stott is the forerunner in pilates and shows it in this advanced video. There are no fancy sets or crazy music here, just Moira’s gentle voice leading you through a challenging workout targeting the abs and back. It includes standard exercises (like the 100) and a few of them (the ‘teaser’) are killers! She also makes a beginner video so start there if you’ve never done pilates before.

Karen Voight – Core Essentials

    • Karen Voight is known for her no-nonsense style and for her easy-to-follow instructions. This video is a total-body workout with a focus on abs, back and butt. Your arms and legs will get a good workout as well. The workout is 40 minutes long and uses light weights to add intensity. She also uses her ‘Green Genie’ balls for added weight, but they aren’t necessary to get a great workout.

Denise Austin – Pilates for Everyone

    • Denise Austin is known for her infinite perkiness. You’ll focus on the abs as well as the arms and legs using a Dyna-Band. You start with an ab workout on the mat, followed by some interesting standing exercises using the band. As always, her enthusiasm shines through!


    • Anything that is described using the word ‘fusion’ sounds interesting, doesn’t it? This video is a mixture of yoga and pilates. You start with some matwork (pilates) and move on to yoga postures focusing on breath, alignment and the all important core strength. This video is actually volume 2 so if you want more instruction, consider getting volume 1 first. You’ll enjoy the unique ‘fusion!’

Kathy Smith – Pilates for Abs

    • Abs? Did you say abs? If so, you’ll like this video because it focuses on the one thing American can’t get enough of–strong abs. Kathy Smith’s girl-next-door persona is perfect for leading you through this easy-to-follow pilates workout designed to increase coordination, endurance and strength. It’s a short one and a good add-on to a cardio or strength training workout.

Pilates for Dummies

    • Pilates sounds scary, doesn’t it? If you’re intimidated by the confusing world of pilates, this is the perfect video for you (and no, I’m not calling you a dummy). This video covers the basics: 18 poses that include form-pointers as well as an explanation of why pilates is so good for you. The pace is reasonable and there’s no fancy schmancy lingo or kooky music. Just a straightforward workout.

Read more about Pilates.