Why Pilates is Amazing - Part 4: Control and Centring

pilates method pilates principles Dec 11, 2021

Several weeks ago we began our journey to find out what Pilates exercise is exactly and why is it so amazing for our bodies. If you missed part 1, 2, & 3, you can find the articles on the blog.

We discovered that Pilates is functional fitness training. The unique method of Pilates re-trains the functioning of the entire body as exercises are designed to work multiple muscles at once - like real life.

We also discovered that the Pilates method brings a new level of strength that begins on the inside and works from the core out to the periphery. It's a proven system to change the way our bodies moves and functions, helping every aspect of our lives.

We laid out that all schools of Pilates teach a set of principles that we can apply to our Pilates practice:

  • Awareness (proprioception)
  • Balanced Muscle Development
  • Breath
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centring
  • Flowing Motion
  • Precision

Today we are exploring the principles of Control and Centring.


Joseph Pilates wrote "Contrology begins with mind control over muscles".

This concept of control is what separates Pilates from a lot of other exercise and movement disciplines.

While performing Pilates exercises we are asking a lot of our bodies to move with precise neuromuscular control of the appropriate muscles. It's definitely an important concept in Pilates to learn which muscles are needed to control our movements and then being able to maintain control throughout the exercises.

With that, I'd like to add a disclaimer: this method of control does NOT need to be perfect. We are always working on improving control, so you are not doing your Pilates "wrong" if you can not maintain control of your muscles all the time. But what is important is that you are conscious of trying to maintain control. Ways to make the movement easier to keep control would be to make the range of motion smaller and/or lighten (or in some cases a heavier load makes the body more supported).

Our bodies are highly adaptable. There is a principle in kinesiology (the study of human movement) called the SAID principle which states that the human body adapts specifically to imposed demands. Specific stressors on the human system, whether biomechanical or neurological, will produce Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID). This means the more we practice controlling our muscles during Pilates (and barre), the better we get at it. 

Let's enjoy exercise, kicking judgement to the curb, doing our best, and loving every minute of the process :)



Centring in Pilates practice means all movement originates from the core (or centre), which is comprised of our powerhouse muscles. Powerhouse muscles are our internal support system, which are deep and intrinsic muscles of the trunk:

  • Transversus Abdominis (what I call our "TVA", our waistband muscles)
  • Multifidi (lower back supporting muscles)
  • Diaphragm (our breathing muscle)
  • Pelvic Floor Muscles (imagine the bottom of a paper bag, holding everything in the bag from falling out)    

Our powerhouse muscles attach directly to our spine and offer stabilization. These muscles work differently than our other skeletal muscles, and are harder to activate. Using the principles of breath, concentration, control, and mind to muscle connection we are able to work the powerhouse more intentionally. 

Today, during the Saturday morning Mat Life zoom class, we did a fun powerhouse sequence that I thought to share with you. Its a toughie, so please take breaks when needed, and maybe stick with the previous layer if you are finding one of the harder layers too difficult, please know you don't have to add on the extra challenges. Maintaining control is the most important element of the practice.


Ready for change? Head to the Pilates Life Services and Pricing page to learn more how the Pilates method can help you reach your health and wellness goals.

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