Doing Pilates for a Fit Life
Pilates is a type of low-impact exercise that delivers big results. In fact, many people release an inner groan when they hear the word. That’s because they know that they can expect a thorough workout when participating in this kind of exercise.
Pilates takes its name from Joseph Pilates who devised the exercises as a way to improve his own body-conditioning. Obsessed, with perfecting his own appearance and health, Joseph Pilates studied every form of exercise to find something that could work for everyone.
He combined techniques from body-building, gymnastics, yoga, tai-chi, martial arts, dance, zen meditation and nursing. In this way he developed a comprehensive set of exercises as well as a mechanical device known as the pilates reformer to help maximize them.
The resulting movements may not be strenuous but you’ll certainly feel the effects the next day. Pilates sessions target the core area of your body, but in doing so, they work other areas too. It is an excellent activity for a full-body toning and firming workout, with many other benefits too.
The Benefits of Pilates for a Fit Life
If you’re hesitant to discover muscles you never knew you had, take a look at what you stand to gain from these enjoyable training sessions.
Pilates is the Whole Package
Pilates focuses on strengthening the deep abdominal muscles but it also centers on your core being. By emphasizing breathing and a focused state of mind, pilates is a form of integrative fitness aimed at transforming body and mind into one well-oiled machine.
With thousands of different movements to choose from Pilates can be adjusted to suit any age or level of fitness. In this way, it can also be used as a supplement or complement to training for a wide range of sports.
Likewise, these exercises target a safe increase in muscle strength by stretching them out to improve your range of motion. This increased flexibility goes a long way to improve your ability to cope with other, more strenuous exercise.
Thanks to its gentle nature and variety, pilates is a safe form of exercise and is often recommended and used as part of a rehabilitation program after injury. Because of the mind-body connection and breathing techniques involved, pilates is also employed as a way for those recovering from substance abuse to find their feet again.
Develops Core Strength
The deep muscles of the pelvic floor, abdomen and back work to support your frame and encourage correct posture. This emphasis on good posture and correct movement are echoed in the principles of biokinetics, which assists with athletic performance and recovery from injury.
When your core is functioning at its best, your neck, shoulders and limbs are well-supported and free to operate at maximum efficiency. As your core strengthens, you’ll notice a decrease in neck, shoulder and back pain because of this.
When combined with a low-calorie diet and other aerobic forms of exercise, pilates can help you lose weight in all the right places. The exercises help to build long, strong muscles all over your body, creating a leaner, more svelte appearance.
Apart from custom-made exercise programs, there are also various different types of pilates to try out. You’ll never get bored with the same old routine and your instructor can tailor your workouts to suit your needs and pace of learning.
Types of Pilates Classes
There’s no reason to stick to the same-old-same-old when it comes to pilates. These are some of the variations you can try:
- Mat Pilates
This is the original form of pilates involving a routine set of drills performed on an exercise mat. There is no other equipment involved. Unless you have a private trainer, mat classes are usually performed in a group.
- Contemporary Studio Pilates
This new-age version of classical pilates is viewed as the most comprehensive workout of all. The lessons involve small groups and highly personalized training using a combination of machines and traditional mat exercises. The main aim here is fitness-or-bust and often instructors will deviate from the norm in order to get results.
- Group Reformer Pilates
The Pilates Reformer is central to these exercise sessions which involve resistance exercises. The size of the class depends on the number of available machines and while larger classes are more fun and intense, they do lack the personal attention you’ll get in a contemporary class.
- Clinical Pilates
As suggested by the name, clinical pilates targets only one part of the body in order to combat injury with heavy emphasis on using the reformer to do so. In this sense, it strays from the original intention of pilates as a holistic form of exercise.
- Classical Pilates
While classical pilates also takes place in a studio, these highly trained and dedicated instructors do not deviate from the original methods used by Joseph Pilates. As such it is the purest form of pilates, as long you have a teacher who is highly trained in every aspect of the drills.
Unless you want to set up your own studio, you don’t need any special equipment to take up pilates. Comfortable exercise clothing is perfectly fine, although remember that you’ll be doing a lot of bending and stretching so dress accordingly.
If you’re getting a little bored with your usual fit life routine, why not try pilates? It’s a safe, effective and fun way to boost your weekly exercise routine.