Picking Pilates Apart

A popular form of mind-body exercise, Pilates seeks to build your strength, flexibility, and coordination.

Looking for a way to tone your muscles without adding bulk? It’s time to give Pilates a try. Pilates is a great form of exercise that practically anyone can do, regardless of age or fitness level.

It is an adaptable, safe exercise program that trained athletes, seniors, women wanting to lose a few pregnancy pounds, and those in physical rehabilitation can all benefit from.

Teaching body awareness, good posture, and graceful, controlled movements, Pilates can help sculpt your body, improve your strength, and even alleviate back pain. Sound too good to be true? Read on to find out more about this innovative system of exercise to figure out if it’s worth a shot.

In the Beginning…

Now an incredibly popular forms of exercise, Pilates was developed by Joseph H. Pilates in Germany in the 1920s. Serving as a nurse during World War I, Pilates designed specific exercise techniques and equipment to rehabilitate immobilized soldiers. Soon, these exercises were found to benefit anyone wanting to become more fit.

Joseph Pilates based his exercise methods on various forms of exercise, including Chinese martial arts and the mind-body principles of yoga. There are two methods of exercise in Pilates. The most common method uses only a floor mat, and one’s own body weight is used as resistance. The other form incorporates a variety of machines including pulleys, springs, and other resistance equipment to tone the body.

Pilates built his program around the belief that your mental and physical health are related and inseparable. Therefore, the exercises combine both by focusing on precision, concentration, control, breathing, and graceful movements. And whereas other exercises require a certain number of repetitions, Pilates is more concerned with the quality of movement rather the quantity.

Core Strength and Lean Muscles

You want a flat abdomen and a strong back, don’t you? Pilates to the rescue! The foundation of Pilates is the development of your core (abdomen and back muscles) strength. When these areas are strong, they work to support the spine and body movement, relieving pressure on your back, improving athletic ability, and protecting from injury. Without good core strength, you can never reach your full potential overall.

Unlike many forms of exercise, Pilates conditions the entire body, leaving no muscle group left out or overly worked, giving you balance, strength, and flexibility. These benefits are helpful for sports performance, injury recovery, proper posture, and overall good health. Also, since most of the exercises are low impact and done while sitting or lying down, Pilates is safe for just about anyone.

Technique

To get the most out of your Pilates workout, it is important to stay focused. Control your breathing at all times, keeping it in rhythm with your movements. Concentration on your muscle movements is also important.

When you workout, don’t wear anything that will restrict movement. Instead, wear comfortable clothes, and feel free to leave the shoes at the door. As you perform each exercise, use smooth, slow, strong movements so that it flows like a dance. Lastly, to get your heart pumping, perform the exercises at whatever pace is most beneficial for your fitness level. If needed, include an aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming along with your Pilates.

Home Alone?

Because of the sudden popularity of Pilates, there is an array of videos on the market that allow you to get your Pilates in at home. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own, your gym probably offers Pilates classes. But before you sign up, make sure the Pilates instructor is qualified to teach the class. While Pilates isn’t a fast-and-furious type of exercise, injury is possible if the moves are not done properly.

Choose to get your Pilates in at home? Do some homework to find out which videos are best for your fitness level and get to it!

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