“Let the group fitness gadflies flit from belly dancing to body sculpting to circus stunts. Pilates people opt to take long, steady aim at the core. And they say the payoff is sweet: strength without bulk, slender thighs, flat-as-a-board abdomen. ‘With Pilates, the focus is core strength,’ said Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise. ‘It concentrates on centering and encouraging improved posture and strength throughout the core.’ And while they might look like sophisticated sit-ups, the moves are performed with precision, concentration, breath control and flow. In fact, Pilates was originally called Controlology. ‘Because you're so aware of where the exercise is coming from, you're really focused on where you're working,’ Michele Bastos, Pilates instructor at the Crunch national chain of health clubs, said of the regimen now practiced by an estimated 10 million people worldwide. Unlike the 5,000-year-old practice of yoga to which it is often compared, Pilates is the 20th century creation of one man..."