10 Reasons to Love Pilates:
Being a Pilates Instructor, I may be a little biased towards this method of body conditioning, but that is not to say I don’t value variety in my workouts. I still appreciate running and lifting weights in the gym, and don’t believe that a person should limit themselves to only one type of exercise. That being said, let me give you the top ten reasons why I love what I teach:
- Pilates increases your muscular strength, tone and stability, particularly of the muscles that make up the “core”: the abdominals, lower back, hips and buttocks. You’ll feel stronger, and look stronger, and a stronger core equals a better back. Researchers believe that by stabilising the core’s lumbar-pelvic (lower-back) region, one can alleviate stress on the area and increase the mobility of the rest of the body. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.
- Pilates increases your flexibility. More conventional or traditional workouts that are weight bearing tend to build short, bulky muscles that are more prone to injury, however, an aim of Pilates is to elongate and strengthen, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.
- Pilates promotes balanced strength on both sides of the body so is perfect for muscle imbalances and musculoskeletal injuries. Similarly, many of these same conventional workouts tend to work the same muscles, leading weak muscles to become weaker and strong muscles to become stronger. The result is muscular imbalance, a leading cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body so that no muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced, helping you to enjoy daily activities and sporting pursuits with greater ease, better performance and less chance of injury.
- Pilates improves your body awareness and posture. Pilates teaches you to think about your skeletal organisation and how you use your muscles during your workout so that you use them better in daily life. Because much of the focus is on good posture and body mechanics, you stand and sit taller and walk more gracefully.
- Pilates improves your coordination and balance. Pilates’ exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your body to move in safer, more efficient, and more coordinated patterns of motion. Development of a strong core also contributes to balance and stability, which is of particular importance as we age.
- Pilates increases your lung capacity and improves circulation through deep breathing. Pilates consists of moving through a slow, sustained series of exercises using abdominal control and proper breathing. Each exercise has a prescribed placement, rhythm and breathing pattern.
- Pilates improves your focus and concentration. Pilates urges you to focus on 1) your breath, 2) your body, and 3) how they move together. It takes a lot of concentration. When you initialise movements from your core and take the time to feel the movement through its entire range, you realise that all the other muscles are connected through your core. Try doing lunges without your abdominals – you’ll fall over! It requires concentration and focus, because you move your body through precise ranges of motion, with emphasis placed on finding a centre point to control your body through each movement.
- Pilates is low impact so is perfect for those with joint injuries. Pilates’ slow and controlled movements puts minimal impact on your joints and many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions. Most are low impact and partially weight bearing, and used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries due to the safe nature of the movements, making it a perfect workout for pregnant clients, those with arthritic joints and clients of all shapes and sizes.
- Pilates develops long, lean muscles. Pilates is a strengthening workout and you definitely use your muscles! Although the Pilates method uses all types of muscle contractions (concentric, eccentric and isometric) there is a strong emphasis on the eccentric contraction. An eccentric contraction is the “release” part of a movement, think of when you lower a weight back down to its starting position. So in other words, the muscle is being strengthened while it is being stretched. With Pilates, the use of springs, resistance against gravity and slow, controlled movements are what enable eccentric contractions.
- Pilates is a wonderful tool for stress management and relaxation. Clients come into a Pilates studio seeking the numerous physical benefits that are associated with the method, such as stronger muscles and increased flexibility. What they might not realise at first is that the physical benefits of a consistent and meaningful Pilates practice can go well beyond external body benefits, and that stress reduction is a profound benefit of a regular Pilates practice. Pilates helps to ease the effects of stress through the implementation of its central principles: breathing techniques, body awareness, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness, balance and harmony.
These are just my top ten reasons why I love Pilates. I’m sure my clients could think of a few more (Social interactions? Belly laughs? Weekly trivia questions?)!
- When you come to Carla Karan Pilates, you can be sure that each class is limited in participant numbers, is taught to suit each person and the exercises are regularly re-evaluated to ensure they are appropriate for that person. Due to the individual attention, this method can suit everybody from elite athletes to people with limited mobility, pregnant women and people with low fitness levels.