What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on using both the mind and body to achieve optimum performance. The deep stabilizing muscles of the body are conditioned and strengthened using sequences of movements that use gravity, body weight and specially designed equipment as forms of resistance. The connection between the mind and body is crucial to Pilates. Pilates trains the mind to maintain a constant level of awareness of the way the body moves. This results in a greater control of motion and vastly improved technique.
The History of Pilates
Pilates is named after German born Joseph Pilates (1912-1967), a man who overcame his own childhood weaknesses through developing and practicing his own regime of exercises. Mr Pilates suffered with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He worked as a circus performer, boxer and self-defence instructor in the UK in 1912. After this he worked with injured World War I soldiers who were unable to walk owing to their injuries. Pilates has developed over the years to become a credible system of conditioning and rehabilitating the body.
7 Benefits of Pilates
Total Body Workout
Pilates works the body in a functional way, using muscles in synergy with each other. This is the way that the body is designed to be used and the movement sequences performed can prepare you for the physical challenges of everyday life.
Core Stability & Postural Alignment
Poor posture accounts for a variety of aches and pains that hamper a large percentage of the population. 4 in 5 adults experience back pain at some point in their life. If your parents didn’t teach you to sit up straight, then Pilates is for you. Pilates teaches you to consciously maintain optimum anatomical alignment in all positions and during movement. By coordinating the body reducing the chances of injury caused by overuse body movements.
Muscle Tone and Strength
Pilates is a fantastic way to sculpt your muscles. To get good results, you should participate in a class to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly and safely. Then practice in your own time 2 times a week.
Improved Body Awareness
Pilates work outs are designed to improve balance and coordination by teaching a greater connection between the mind and body. The body can forget how to use various muscles, so you need to reconnect and engage these muscles. This is often very frustrating but when you learn how to use the muscles again tasks can become a lot easier and you will have a better working body. Pilates is an ideal way to get back in touch with your own body so that you can use it to its full potential.
Joseph Pilates used his system to rehabilitate injured soldiers and today Pilates has gained public recognition as a method of rebuilding strength and function following injuries. One great benefit of Pilates is that it is low impact and that makes it ideal as a form of physical therapy. One of the great things about Pilates is that it provides you with a structured method of taking control and improving your own strength and stamina.
Pilates for Weight Loss
Pilates will contribute to your overall strategy to lose weight by increasing muscle tone. Muscle is metabolically active; the more of it that you have the more calories you will burn. Other than increased muscle tone, Pilates will strengthen your body, preparing it for the more dynamic calorie burning workouts.
Pilates can also help to increase self-esteem and reduce stress levels. Pilates trains you to stay focused on your movements. This is ideal for getting thoughts out of your head. Pilates also teaches you to breathe properly which is another recognized stress reduction technique.
By Andrew Falconer