Pilates is named for Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), developer of a conditioning program that improves muscle control, flexiability, coordination, strength, and tone. The basic principals of Pilates conditioning are to make people more aware of their bodies as single integrated units; to improve alignment and breathing; and to increase efficiency of movement. The Pilates methods consists of a sequence of carefully performed movements - which may be guided by an instructor - designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles involved, opening the joints and releasing tension. The Pilates methods works many of the deeper muscles together, improving coordination and balanc to achieve efficient and graceful movement, and are used in hospitals and physical therapy centers to rehabilitate injuries as well as in athletic training rooms and dance studios

Suggested Reading:
Working out the Pilates Way