Pilates and Callanetics are both exercise regimens that have as their goal the development of muscular tone, strength and flexibility, and both programs have minimal impact on bones and joints. The two methods differ on how to achieve their common goal. The exercises in Callanetics involve small muscle movements in specific body regions, whereas the Pilates exercises involve the body as a whole. People wishing to try these programs should first consult with their physicians.
The Origin of Pilates
Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany around 1880. He was the son of a Greek father, who was a champion gymnast, and a German mother, and his experiences during his early childhood years led to his lifelong interest in physical fitness. Pilates was a sickly child, and his classmates cruelly teased and mistreated him. According to the American National Biography Online, he found work as a fitness instructor in Hamburg, Germany in 1918, and it was here, during the years following World War I, that he developed the Pilates Method.
Pilates is a form of exercise that consists of movements that require participants to use their entire body. Many of the exercises target multiple muscle groups in the trunk area of the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. These groups include the abdominal and oblique muscles, the muscles of the lower back and the gluteal muscles that form the buttocks. The Pilates Hip-Up position is one of the exercises that illustrates the basic way that Pilates works to tone the muscles. In this exercise, Pilates participants lie down on their backs with their knees bent and legs straight up and crossed at the feet. They then use a backward rocking motion to lift their hips off the floor. People with weak abdominal muscles may find this exercise too difficult. In addition, people who have neck problems should not attempt the Hip-Up position.
The Origin of Callanetics
Callan Pinckney was born in Savannah, Georgia on September 26, 1939. She struggled with congenital spinal defects throughout her childhood, and as an adult she sought relief of back pain by developing a series of exercises. These exercises proved effective at diminishing her pain, and they also increased her energy and improved the appearance of her body. In 1986, she published a very successful video that gave a detailed description of her exercise regimen, and the program became known as Callanetics.
Callanetics differs from Pilates in that the Callanetics movements are small and their range of motion is severely limited, according to PositiveHealthOnline. The small movements are referred to as pulses, and they focus on very restricted regions of the body. The Callanetics method achieves muscle toning and strengthening not with the expansive body movements of Pilates, but instead with small, deep and repeated muscle contractions limited to a confined muscle group. An example of this is the Callanetics stomach workout. Participants lie on their backs with their knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With arms fully extended, they slowly lift their head and shoulders off the floor and move their chin toward their chest as far as possible. They then move their head slightly back toward the floor and again bring their chin toward their chest. They repeat this motion 100 times.