What is Pilates? What can it do for you?
Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. Pilates is a full-body exercise, that strengthens every muscle group of the body with an emphasis on core muscles, muscles that support your spine, abs and pelvis. It strengthens and stabilizes the core, the foundation of your body, so you can move efficiently while improving your posture, flexibility, balance and coordination.
It is similar to yoga in ways that Pilates concentrates on posture, balance and flexibility. (But it’s also very different…! Click here to read more about Pilates vs. Yoga)
In Pilates you strengthen the whole body by doing range of controlled movement, so it is one of the safest ways to exercise for all gender, body types and age groups.
Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection. While doing various movements, your mind is constantly aware of the breathing and the way your body moves.
Develop a strong core - flat abdominals and a strengthen core muscles around your waist, hips, chest and back
Pilates can help strengthen the entire body, but what it really focuses on is strengthening the core muscles. Core muscles are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic floor. These are muscles essential for strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the trunk of the body is supported. Which means we can relax the neck and shoulders, and the rest of the muscles and joints have less load to carry.
Build long, lean muscles and increase flexibility
In Pilates, you are not building short, bulky muscles for show – you are building toned lean muscles that work within context of the body as a whole. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.
Improve posture and reduce back pain
Many of our lifestyle factors can contribute to bad posture. Work demands like sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer screen all day or any repetitive movements can lead to poor spinal alignment. Being too busy and not being active can cause our muscles to weaken which can also lead to spinal misalignment.
The most tragic reason for poor posture is not being aware that you have a bad posture and not knowing how to keep your posture strong.
Pilates can help you bring awareness to your postural issues and fix them. Pilates strengthens your core, helps body hold good posture, and increases your flexibility, all things which go a long way in reducing back pain.
Promote fat loss and build long, lean appearance
If you want to lose fat, all you have to do is: burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body workout, Pilates will help you do just that. If you practice regularly, you will increase long, strong muscles and a leaner look, and creating a body that’s easier to burn fat. Combined with the right diet, Pilates can be a prime fat loss and body toning tool.
Create a balanced body, improve sports performance, and prevent injuries
Many conventional workouts tend to work the same muscles, which leads weak muscles to get weaker and strong muscles to get stronger, resulting in muscular imbalance. This can cause injury and chronic back pain for many people.
Pilates conditions the whole body from head to toe, no muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease, better performance and less risk of injury. That’s why so many professional athletes now use Pilates as a critical part of their training regimen.
Increase coordination and balance
Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your brain and body to move efficiently, in a safer, more controlled manner. Being aware of your body and being aware of the mind/body connection is how you can best control your body, which is how Pilates can enhance your balance and coordination.
Pilates is gentle…
Pilates is not a stringent workout regime; many movements are performed in sitting or lying positions and most are low impact exercises. Difficulty can be customized according to your fitness level & health history. Every movement can be regressed or progressed using props, or limiting range of movement. Which makes Pilates is one of the safest and controlled exercises, so Pilates is often used in physical therapy to rehabilitate injuries.
But it’s also challenging…
Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Your instructor can vary difficulty depending on your fitness level and goals. Get the workout that best suits you now, and progress as you stronger.