What Is Pilates?

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What is Pilates? 

Pilates (or the Pilates method) is a series of about 500 exercises inspired by callisthenics, yoga, and ballet. Pilates strengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. It improves flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century with the intention to improve the rehabilitation programme for casualties. During this period, Pilates was designed to aid injured soldiers in regaining their health by strengthening, stretching, and stabilising key muscles.

Joe preferred fewer, more precise movements, requiring control and technique over increased repetition. He believed that mental and physical health were essential to one another, creating what is a method of total body conditioning Pilates uses correct alignment, centring, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement (the Pilates principles) to establish perfect working body from the inside out.

Pilates build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine, rather than on bulking and shortening the muscles. Pilates has a focus on the core which can basically be thought of as the ‘powerhouse’ of your body. your core is the area between your shoulders and your pelvis (without your arms and legs) and encompasses all the muscles within  this area. Due to its core focus, Pilates is popular not only in the field of fitness, but also in rehabilitation, It can be used to progress individuals through movements that represent their day-to-day activities. The focus on strengthening the core and improving postural awareness are especially well indicated for the alleviation and prevention of back, neck and joint pain.

What are the benefits of Pilates? 

The health benefits of Pilates include:

  • improved flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, and buttocks (the ‘core muscles’ of your body)
  • enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs
  • improved stabilisation of your spine
  • improved posture
  • rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances
  • improved physical coordinator and balance
  • relaxation of your shoulders, neck and upper back
  • safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries
  • increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
  • improved concentration
  • increased body awareness
  • stress management and relaxation

Is Pilates suitable for me? 

Pilates caters for everyone, from beginning to advanced. you can perform exercises using your body body weight, or with the help of various pieces of equipment. A typical Pilates workout includes a number of exercises and stretches. Each exercise is performed with attention to proper breathing techniques and abdominal muscle control. To gain the maximum benefit, you should do Pilates at least two or three times per week. You may notice postural improvements after 10 to 20 sessions.

Pilates and challenging your body 

Pilates is partly inspired by yoga, but is different in one key respect – yoga is made up of a series of static postures, while Pilates is based on putting yourself into unstable postures and challenging your body by moving your limbs.
For instance, imagine you are lying on your back, with bent knees and both feet on the floor. A Pilates exercise may involve straightening one leg so that your toes point to the ceiling, and using the other leg to slowly raise and lower your body. You need tight abdominal and buttock muscles to keep your hips square, and focused attention to stop yourself from tipping over.

What are the different types of Pilates? 

Two the two basic forms of Pilates are:
  • Mat-based Pilates – this is a series of exercises performed on the floor using gravity and your own body weight to improve resistance. The main aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of your body to improve posture, balance and coordination.
  • Equipment-based Pilates – this includes specific equipment that works against spring-loaded resistance, including the ‘reformer’, which is a moveable carriage that you push and pull along its tracks. Some forms of Pilates include weights (such as dumbbells) and other types of small equipment that offer resistance to the muscles.

Quality in a Pilates workout 

Pilates consists of moving through a slow, sustained series of exercises using abdominal control and proper breathing. The quality of each posture is more important than the number of repetitions or how energetically you can move.

Pilates group sessions are available at Boost Physiotherapy – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 4:30PM and 5:15PM as well as Wednesdays at 1:00PM. Contact us now to get on board! Phone or SMS 0434708488
(Sources; Better Health Channel, Pilates Fitness Institute, DMA Pilates)