"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." -- Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.
Runner or golfer, tennis player or new mom, chances are you've heard someone talking about the benefits of Pilates. Many types of people, at many levels of fitness, who have begun doing Pilates exercises say they've seen improvements in range of motion, flexibility, circulation, posture, and abdominal strength -- and decreases in back, neck and joint pain.
Forty years after his death, the system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates has never been in such demand. But can the benefits of Pilates (puh-LAH-teez), the system of strengthening and stretchingexercises designed to develop the body's core, mobilize the spine and build flexibility, really be that far-reaching?
Pilates Benefit # 1 Body Awareness
When performed correctly and with the proper supervision.
"It is an education in body awareness. It changes your shape by educating you in daily movment. When you're cooking, brushing your teeth, the lessons are coming home to pull your stomach in and pull your shoulders down. There is an attention required (in doing the exercises) that changes your awareness" even after class.
It teaches you how to train your mind and build symmetry and coordination in the body And when you can get control of the little things, that's practicing willpower."
One of greatest benefits would be personal awareness -- awareness of how you sit or how you stand or how you move and being able to relate those habits to the aches and pains and injuries you have or have had in the past.
For example it can help make you aware of that chronic tweak in the neck you get from sitting at the computer all day with rounded shoulders and a phone cradled between ear and shoulder.We see a lot of clients with injuries or weakness of the postural muscles, as a result of work, lifestyle, or not exercising the right way.People sit slouched at computers all day, then go to the gym and work their vanity muscels. They don't use their core.Think of a tree, does it have all its strength in its limbs? No. The tree is only as strong as its trunk and roots. Without a strong trunk, the tree would topple over. It's the same for human bodies. If we don't concentrate on building a good foundation and a strong trunk or core, we'll end up tight in some places and weak in others, injury-prone and susceptible to the pitfalls of our occupation or chosen form of exercise.
2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs
Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. Building from core strength, focusing on proper alignment, and a body/mind integrative approach make Pilates accessible to all. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs.
3. Creates Strength Without Bulk
Long, lean muscles are the name of the game here. In Pilates, we are not looking to build muscles for show. We are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life.
4. Increases Flexibility
In Pilates, we work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. You won't find quite as much "pretzel logic" in Pilates as you might in yoga, but a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a very realistic goal.
5. Develops Core Strength
The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs -- and not more. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all covet.
6. Improves Posture
Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Starting with Pilates movement fundamentals and moving throughmat and equipment exercises, Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony. You can see this in the beautiful posture of those who practice Pilates.
7. Increases Energy
It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.
8. Promotes Weight Loss and Long, Lean Appearance
If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel very fit.
f you want to lose weight, the formula for weight loss remains the same: Burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates help will help you do that. Combined withaerobic activity, Pilates becomes a prime weight loss and body toning tool.
9. Increases Awareness - Body/Mind Connection
Joseph Pilates was adamant that Pilates, or contrology as he called it, was about "the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit." This is one of the secrets of Pilates exercise: we practice each movement with total attention. When we exercise in this way, the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each exercise. The Pilates principles -- centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow -- are key concepts that we use to integrate body and mind.
10. There are Many Ways to Learn Pilates
Pilates instruction is easy to come by these days. The ever-growing popularity of Pilates has put it on the map all over the world. This is good because when you start Pilates training, it is important to start with live Pilates instruction at a studio or gym, and preferably from a certified instructor. But there are lots of ways to supplement your learning once you get going. You can practice at home and you don't need one bit of fancy equipment, just comfy clothes and a mat.
"Doing Pilates helps you physically become energized and less tired mentally. You are able to clear your mind, relax and breathe during a Pilates class. There are several reasons why the Pilates Method has been around for over 100 years.
1. Pilates helps the spine. The balancing of strength and flexibility is an essential part of Pilates. Pilates helps to correct tension imbalances so that your spine can be more flexible and better protected from injuries.
2. Pilates helps to strengthen the core. Doing Pilates is a nice way to strengthen your muscles and your core without have to bulk up as you would if you were pumping iron. For women, especially, who want toned arms, it's a great way to get these without dealing with muscle aches and exhaustion, which sometimes come with lifting weights. When your core is strengthened, it means that your neck is relaxed and the rest of your joints are free to do their work.
3. Adaptable to any fitness levels. It can be done whether you are a senior who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis or a professional athlete who is accustomed to intense sessions. Where a gym instructor might have to pace you when you are doing regular cardio sessions based on your fitness levels so as to prevent injuries, there is not this level of concern with Pilates.
4. Pilates helps with weight loss. Doing Pilates helps to build muscles and will therefore help to stimulate your metabolism. By increasing metabolic activities, you will be better able to decrease your body fat by burning calories faster so you can lose weight. Pilates also helps to flatten your abs due to the strong focus it places on torso control.
5. Improves breathing. A lot of emphasis is placed on breathing while doing Pilates and this in turn oxygenates the blood and replenishes the cells in the body. Doing Pilates also increases blood flow to the brain.
6. Increases energy. The proper breathing techniques practised in Pilates help to increase circulation and floods the body with energy. By relieving stress, improving posture and reducing tension, Pilates also helps to boost your self-confidence and increases your agility so you can feel more upbeat.
7. Enhances mind/ body connection. All forms of exercise help to release feel-good hormones and relieve stress, and the same is true for Pilates. Pilates also helps you to be more conscious of your muscles and teaches you how to control them, so that you can heighten your awareness and increase concentration.
8. It can be individualised. With thousands of possible modifications, Pilates can be tailored to meet your individual needs. It's a great option for those who are suffering from personal injuries and might not be able to engage in high-impact exercise routines such as jogging or doing the Stairmaster, for example.
9. Heals and prevents back injuries. Pelvic instability and poor posture can lead to a bad back and create several other health challenges. However, the stretching, flowing movements used during Pilates help to keep your muscles flexible so that they can handle stressors that could cause injuries.
10. Improves sleep. Pilates helps to relax you so you can sleep better as it releases the feel-good hormones which improve your mood.