Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates and popular in Germany, the UK and the US. As of 2005, there were 11 million people practicing the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States alone. Pilates called his method Contrology (from control and Greek -, -logia). Pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility and long, lean muscles, strength and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing to relieve stress and allow adequate oxygen flow to muscles, developing a strong core or center (tones abdominals while strengthening the back), and improving coordination and balance. Pilates' flexible system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced.
Contributions by Jcforprez, Hilikp, and Dariapace.