Back in 1980 Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two students of Romana Kryzanowska, published the first modern book on Pilates, The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning. This was, as far as I can tell, the first place that the "principles of Pilates" were set down in any formal way, though the ideas had certainly been circulating around Pilates studios for the previous 50 years.
These principles are priorities for how the body should move, which is what Pilates is all about: Pilates is flowing movement from a controlled centre.
Beyond “Core Strength” with Pilates
The term that is popular now is “core strength”, which is part of what we mean by “centre”, though there is more to it. The point is not simply that your “core” is strong or that you have abs, but that you move from the centre outwards.
Two of our key concepts in Pilates are the “box” (which is really the rectangle of the torso from the two hips up to the two shoulders) and the powerhouse (the muscles at the core of the body: the abs, the back muscles, the back, inside and outside of the legs). Both "box" and "powerhouse" are included in what we mean by “centre” in pilates.
Movement From the Centre Is Pilates Movement
Pilates movement comes from the centre, the strongest part of the body. The arms and legs (the “appendages”) are not the focus of attention, even though pilates has a noticeable effect on them. When we use the arms or legs they do not do the work, they enable the work which is to strengthen and deepen the powerhouse.
Learning to move from your centre will make a difference to your body. It is one of the ways that we work with people who have RSI, and it brings a totally different quality into all of your movement, whether that be dancing ballet, playing tennis, or lifting shopping bags and babies.
Movement from the centre is pilates movement.