What kind of workout is Pilates?
Pilates is a great form of exercise for all levels of fitness. Whether you are completely new to the game, or a seasoned campaigner, there is always a challenge in the pilates studio.
The fundamentals of pilates are based around
- stabilising the spine and pelvis,
- allowing the breath to complement your movement patterns, and
- optimising efficiency in movement patterns.
This means we learn more about our bodies so as not to overstress or tension certain parts more than others.
The repertoire of exercises can be varied between mat based, (floor exercises which can easily be transferred to home or the gym) which centre around strength, mobility and flexibility of the spine and body; through to the reformer and other Pilates equipment which apply spring loaded tension to build in levels of resistance. This is great for those of us needing resistance based exercises that don’t strain joints and muscles too early on.
Pilates is a controlled, sustained series of exercises concentrating on the quality of the performance rather than the number completed, whilst concentrating on proper breathing and core control.
What should I expect from a Pilates class?
- Pilates classes may be advertised as “mat” or “equipment” classes. In mat classes, exercises are performed on foam mats on the floor, primarily using body weight resistance. Equipment classes utilize some of the equipment originally developed by Joseph Pilates to add resistance or assistance to exercises.
- Each class usually lasts around 45 minutes
- Ideally, a Pilates class won’t be too large, allowing the instructor a chance to assess each individual for correct execution of the exercise. In Pilates it is possible to “cheat” using larger muscles, rather than the deep core muscles, to perform a movement. In some cases “cheating” can only be identified when the instructor physically checks to see what muscles are active. This level of attention is precluded when class size is too large.
The History of Pilates
- Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates during the First World War as a means to improve the rehabilitation of injured veterans. He believed in a connection between mental and physical health and his approach emphasized maintaining form and control through a series of precise movements.
“The Pilates Principles” include:
Alignment – maintaining correct postural alignment throughout exercise
Breathing – maintaining even breathing throughout exercise using a technique that engages the deep stabilizing muscles
Centering – engaging the core prior to movement of the extremities
Concentration – using the mind to control muscles and movements
Precision – every movement has purpose and control
Flow/Efficiency of Movement – once efficiency has been achieved, exercises are intended to flow together
Originally, Pilates consisted of 34 exercises performed on a padded mat on the floor. Joseph Pilates later invented many pieces of equipment, such as the Reformer and Trapeze Table, which utilize springs and pulleys to either add resistance or assist movement
Is Pilates good for losing weight?
You may not necessarily feel that you drop weight dramatically, but you should feel after 4-6 weeks that your muscle tone starts to improve, your general strength increases, and aches and pains you may otherwise feel around the low back and neck may start to dissipate.
As a general rule, you will burn calories, albeit it won’t be as much in 30-minutes as a fast interval running or hard strength session. The exercises, although challenging and targeted, are much less aggressive on the body and concentrate on quality not the number of exercises performed.
What is the main difference between Yoga and Pilates?
You may wonder what the difference is between Yoga and Pilates…Yoga tends to follow a more set flow of exercises, forward and backbends through a range of motion and meditation type postures. In Pilates, you should find that exercises begin to target strengthening specific posture and stabilising muscles of the body, making you feel you have more control of your balance and position in space. You can also modify your programme with your Pilates instructor specifically to manage and improve any injuries you may have.
What does Pilates do for your body?
Pilates is a method of exercise which is great for developing muscular strength, increasing tone & developing flexibility. Regular Pilates will change your body by creating long, strong muscles and improves balance and posture which makes you feel and look better. Pilates uses low-impact exercises involving precise movements & specific breathing techniques, so whilst not an aerobic activity, can be very demanding nonetheless.
Pilates emphasizes motor control, and teaches how to maintain neutral postural alignment throughout movement
In Pilates, “the core” refers to deep stabilizing muscles that attach to the pelvis and the spine, including pelvic floor, transversus abdominus, and multifidus. Pilates focuses on isolating, activating, and strengthening the core. When combined with motor control, this will help protect the spine.
What are Pilates Reformer classes?
Reformer classes involve the use of spring-loaded machines which apply or reduce resistance to your exercise regime. They can be modified depending on the exercise to make your body work harder, or to help you stretch out in a lighter mode of training. During your class, you may find you are in a lot of different postures, such as lying on your back, sides; sitting, kneeling or standing – so extremely versatile!
Who may benefit from Pilates?
- Individuals who have back pain, neck pain, or headaches
- Individuals who have difficulty with motor control or poor posture
- Pre-, peri- and post-natal women. Women who are pregnant should check with their physician before initiating an exercise regime
- Athletes looking to improve stability, balance, and motor control
What are the Benefits of Pilates?
As said above, Pilates is not just for fitness fanatics or serious athletes, everyone can benefit through proper postural development, core strength & stability, no matter what level of fitness or injury background you begin with. The benefits then are
- increases flexibility
- improves posture
- safe rehabilitation after joint, spine or muscle injury
- reduces risk of injury through improved strength, flexibility and balance
- builds cardiovascular endurance
- improves bone density with the use of resistance
- eases back pain
You will find that whether you are recovering from injury, surgery, or just simply looking for a challenging all-around workout, there is something for you.