The Benefits of Pilates

Pilates focuses on developing strength, flexibility, and body awareness. Pilates is not focused on building muscles but rather on overall physical wellbeing. Its creator, Joseph Pilates, wanted a form of exercise that linked mental and physical health, and developed a form of exercise that trained the whole body. Pilates is now practiced by millions of people worldwide.

The core elements of Pilates are focused on core muscle strength and spinal alignment. Loosely speaking, the core muscles are the back, spine, hips, abs, and the muscles that surround these areas. During a Pilates session the instructor will ask participants to focus on core muscles and breathing. Instructors are usually more concerned about quality of movement rather than quantity. The objective is training your mind and body to bring many benefits:

Better posture

Pilates practitioners become aware of their bodies over the course of their practice. When performed correctly, Pilates can make you aware of how you sit, stand or move, and how these habits relate to the aches and pains we experience every day. For example, it can make you aware of the twinge you feel in your back when you sit in front of your PC every day in a slouched manner. Practicing Pilates will correct this so when you sit, you will automatically do so erectly so that core muscles are supporting the entire body.

Better muscle tone

Since Pilates focuses on using the core muscles, you can expect improved muscle tone with continuous practice. Think of your body as a tree, strength is not found in the branches but is found in its trunk and roots. This is the aim of Pilates –  better muscle tone so that the core muscles can support the weight of the whole body.

Improved mental concentration

Pilates focuses on quality of movement rather than quantity. Instructors are more concerned about how you move, not on the number of repetitions. Quality demands concentration and after months of practice concentration and focus become sharper.

Improved flexibility

Practicing Pilates regularly can help improve flexibility because Pilates involves stretching muscles and joints. Expect to see an improvement in your range and motion which leads to longer and leaner muscles. This is perhaps one of the reasons why those who practice Pilates regularly are not bulky but are able to stretch their muscles fully. With Pilates you are only stretching muscles, not adding layers. This is a great way to reshape your body and achieve a lean look without adding bulk.

Weight loss

It must be emphasized that Pilates is not a calorie buster, however a 165 pound adult woman can still burn up to 480 calories during one hour of advanced Pilates. This means is can be a great exercise for those looking to lose weight who also mix in cardio training too..

Good complimentary exercise

Pilates is ideal for those who are recovering from an injury. It is also great for athletes who need a low impact activity that will compliment their usual training. It helps improve balance, flexibility, and strength using low impact exercises.

It’s time to get excited about Pilates. The different exercises are designed to strengthen your core muscles and spine. You will notice your body changing in just a matter of months. Do you need the benefits Pilates promises? Get in touch!

Pilates boring? Only if you do it wrong!

Though not a new kid on the fitness block – its creator having started devising the program just after World War II – Pilates is enjoying a recent surge in popularity, as people start to realize the massive benefits it can have to their bodies. However, because Pilates was designed for rehabilitation and is often practiced at a sedate and flowing pace, as well as lacking the more spiritual elements of exercises such as yoga, it sometimes gets an undeserved reputation as being, well…. a bit dull. However, nothing could be further from the truth and in reality Pilates is about as dynamic as it gets!

Joseph Pilates was a man with a thousand tales to tell. During his life he was at times; a circus performer, a boxer, diver, and gymnast, as well as one of the first practitioners of Kung-Fu in the West. He was a;so a prisoner-of-war and one time model. This cigar-smoking colossus of a man lived life to the full and turned heads well into his old age, when he could be seen on the streets of New York in his tight exercise briefs. In short, this was not a man you would have ever called ordinary or boring and the revolutionary exercises he developed are as interesting as the man who created them.

To be sure, the exercise may not get you sweating like a fast-paced aerobics session will. There is no competitive or team element or the exhilaration of CrossFit. But this doesn’t mean Pilates is any less engaging. Far from it. This is an exercise that can transform your life and improve your health, fitness and quality of life beyond compare. The problem with keeping interest levels up is often a product of the teaching and how classes are presented.

The wrong expectations

Too often, Pilates is marketed as an alternative to aerobics, or something similar to other high-energy exercise classes. But Pilates isn’t really like this. It requires as much mental concentration as it does physical effort. And yes, it will get you fit, but not in the same way as a heart-pumping aerobics class. Sometimes people sign-up expecting a class where they can mentally zone out while burning off the calories. The more sedate pace of Pilates, where you have to engage your brain, isn’t quite what some people expect.

However, the total concentration and mind-body connection needed to control your breathing and centering is actually what makes Pilates more interesting. You use your brain, which is something that you are not doing as you pound away on a treadmill watching a mindless soap opera on a screen.

Slow getting started

The Pilates method takes a little time to learn. You can’t just throw yourself in and expect to know what you are doing immediately. You need some experience before moving on to certain types of Pilates, such as Reformer, which utilizes specially created Pilates equipment. To avoid accidents and injury you need to learn the basics. You have to be patient enough to learn the principles which are control, breath, concentration, flow, centering, and precision. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect fast results though.

Principles are important

One of the main reasons that some people’s interest in Pilates wanes is that they are not getting the results they expected. This is often due to not following the exercise principles. Instead, they presume Pilates isn’t working for them and just drop out. You need to find the healthy alignment in your own body but this takes time and means paying real attention to changes in your body that show you are on the right path. You need to be precise and observant to notice these changes initially. Do the exercise as perfectly as possible and “honor every movement.”

Teaching that doesn’t inspire

An unmotivating teacher can make the most fascinating subject feel like a real drag. Everyone has been in an exercise class that they can’t wait to finish just so they can get a cool drink, but if you are watching the clock in your Pilates class, it means you are not engaged. A good teacher will ensure that the class challenges you and will make sure you don’t know what is coming next by mixing things up a bit and keeping you and your body guessing.

Not keeping up momentum

If you really want to see results in Pilates, as in any exercise, you need to keep at it. A class every few weeks is a waste of time. Joseph Pilates himself recommended at least 10 minutes a day, which is doable for anyone. A couple of classes a week should mean you start seeing results and because it is a medium intensity exercise, you don’t have to take so much down-time between sessions. It is a little-and-often exercise, so even if you are not a keep fit lover, you can devise your sessions to keep them short and varied, which is much more interesting than a long and daunting gym session once in awhile.

Have you tried Pilates and been disappointed? Or would you like to take up this life-changing exercise with an inspiring and driven teacher? Get in touch and we will show you just how exciting Pilates can be.