Pilates Fitness Exercise
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a fitness training system which promotes healthy spinal and pelvic alignment through building flexibility, core strength and endurance.
The Pilates system was created by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer and healer. He was inspired to use physical exercise as a form of healing in order to overcome the ill health which had plagued him through his own childhood. He studied Western and Eastern medical system, using them to inform his own series of exercises, which he called Pilates. His system quickly became popular with the dance community, who valued the strength and grace it promoted, as well as its potential to restore the body after injuries.
Today, Pilates is practised the world over, and is renowned for the way it helps people to develop strength in their bodies and graceful movement.
In a Pilates class, you can expect to find:
- Low impact movements which are often subtle but challenging, targeting muscles deep in your core.
- Exercises to increase your range of motion, while strengthening your muscles, usually working with your own body weight.
- A combination of mat-based work with some props used to help you perform certain exercises.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
Pilates is primarily known for its core-strengthening properties. It helps to strengthen the muscles which support excellent posture, and bring your body into healthy alignment. It gives you better control of the movement of your body and limbs, which will help not just in class, but in life generally. This can be particularly effective for preventing and even healing lower back pain.
The improved muscular strength and conditioning is fantastic on a functional level, and can also help you to feel more body confident. The exercises will tone the abdominal muscles, the glutes and the muscles of the hips giving you a stronger and more shapely body.
Pilates is also great for improving your flexibility and range of motion, in a controlled and safe way. It does this by:
- Uniformly developing the muscles in opposing muscle groups, to bring the body into balance.
- Teaching the nervous system that the body’s structure is safely supported, so it can allow muscles to release and find their full extension again.
- Relaxing any muscles which are restricted and being held too tightly.
The mindful approach of Pilates is fantastic for improving your self awareness and proprioception. The focus this gives can also have a calming and soothing effect on the mind, bringing you fully into your body and the present moment. Joseph Pilates himself was a great believer in the importance of finding integration between the mind and the body, and believed in the value of balancing the mind, body and spirit.
Expect to leave a Pilates class feeling like you have had a thorough, strengthening and mindful training experience. Although this class is not high intensity, many people report feeling soreness in muscles they did not know they had the next day! Regular Pilates classes can transform your whole body, strengthening, releasing and promoting graceful movement.