Pilates is a regime of exercises developed by a German performer and boxer called Joseph Pilates in the late 1920s and became a fixture in the world of actors and dancers when it became associated with Martha Graham's dance group in New York.
An excellent advert for the system is the actress Stefanie Powers (aka Jennifer Hart from the popular series Hart to Hart). She's practised Pilates from the age of 15 and has now written her own guide to Pilates.
Sarah Woolman joined her in her London home to learn some ground rules to this much publicised practise, starting with the importance of core balance.
Powers Pilates: Stefanie Powers' Guide to Longevity and Well-being through Pilates is published by Gaia Books, ISBN 1-85675-199-6