Once the secret fitness weapon of professional dancers, athletes, and movie stars, Pilates is sweeping the country and becoming more popular than ever. If half of what its many fans claim is true, then it’s easy to see why. Combining elements of yoga, dance, gymnastics, and boxing, along with many original movements, Pilates exercises build muscle tone, improve flexibility and balance, lengthen the spine, increase body awareness, and repair past injuries. Most people who’ve done it, even for a short time, say they feel stronger and more energized, centered, and physically confident than ever before. They also like having the flat tummies, tight buns, and long lean thighs of a dancer.