Mich and I have been fans of Pilates for some time. This very popular workout today, was created in the 1920s to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, while encouraging mental awareness. There are many reasons to do Pilates, I love the preciseness of the movements and focus on form. The slightest corrections require a great deal of effort and I can feel myself getting stronger while coaxing my body to perfect an exercise. Pilates really forces you to tune into your body to activate the right muscles. It also requires muscle stamina – exercises are done slowly, deliberately and repeatedly.
If you want proof that Pilates is great for your body and general well-being, look no further than the founder, Joseph Pilates who practiced and instructed until his death in his 80s in 1967. The fact that Pilates has not only endured, but grown since his death is a testament to its effectiveness and popularity. This is definitely not a passing “fad”.
REASONS TO DO PILATES TODAY
So why should you not miss out and start practicing Pilates today? “Pilates is not just a form of exercise, it is a special haven that gives you “me-time”, time to reconnect to your body, center and still the mind,” says Linda Green founder and owner of our favourite Pilates Studio in Johannesburg, My Pilates. She adds that, “Pilates is the go to for any other form of exercise, it creates a foundation from which you can cross train into other sports.”
Here are 10 reasons why everyone, men and women, should start regularly practicing Pilates.
To strengthen your “powerhouse” or core
Your core isn’t just your abs — it’s your entire body from your diaphragm all the way to your pelvic floor which Pilates devotees refer to as your “powerhouse”. Pilates trains your powerhouse while stretching and strengthening other muscles.
It’s a full-body workout
Although the focus of Pilates is on your core or “powerhouse”, it will also work your back, chest, arms, legs, neck, feet. It truly is about full-body functional fitness.
It’s easy on your joints
Pilates movements are slow and controlled, placing minimal impact and strain on your joints. Even more so if you’re using the Pilates reformer. The padding on a Pilates reformer takes the pressure off of your back and knees.
To improve your flexibility
When you’re tight, your muscles are shortened and your body’s range of motion is limited. This can eventually lead to injury. In a Brazilian study, young women without any prior Pilates experience performed 20 Pilates sessions. One of the outcomes was a material (19 percent) improvement in their flexibility.
Pilates encourages mind and body connectivity
Joseph Pilates advocated that Pilates was about “the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”. Pilates practice is about focusing on each movement and instructing the brain to release tension, while controlling and perfecting the exercise, and breathing with purpose and flow. You’re forced to focus and forget what’s going on in the world around you for an hour.
To improve posture, restore balance and realign the body
Poor posture creates a string of structural issues and in the body that can cause imbalance. This in turn can manifest as pain in the shoulders, neck and head as well as a tilt of the pelvis or a shift of the hips, adding pressure to muscles and joints. Pilates targets the deep postural muscles to create a strong, aligned core.
Pilates based exercise has been shown to promote changes in habitual posture by enhancing spinal, scapular and joint flexibility and strengthening shoulder, lower back and abdominal muscles.
It can help with back pain
Pilates exercises stretch and lengthen the spine, loosen up tight hip muscles and strengthen the abdominals which help to lessen pressure on the back. In addition, as stated above, Pilates can improve postural imbalances. This decreases wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the inter-vertebral joints and discs.
Pilates can improve sports performance
The body cannot generate powerful movements from a position of instability. Increased core stability enables athletes to generate powerful movements more effectively. In addition, by addressing postural issues through Pilates, athletes can avoid many common injuries.
To improve your breathing
Slow, deliberate breathing is crucial to a Pilates routine. It is a deep lateral breath that engages your diaphragm and your core. Once mastered, you feel more energised and relaxed.
For long lean muscles
Pilates is the exercise of dancers. When Joseph Pilates opened his first studio in New York City after emigrating to the States in 1926, his clients consisted mostly of dancers. If you want long, lean muscles like the dancers, then this is the workout for you!
The reasons to start your Pilates journey today are quite compelling. The easiest way to get started is to join a studio where you can take guidance from experienced and qualified instructors. Some studios, like My Pilates, even offer Mobile Classes for corporates to bring Pilates classes to you at work. Or, you can start with one-on-one instruction at home if you prefer.
You can find the My Pilates studio at Shop 235, 2nd floor, Dunkeld West Centre, Johannesburg. Visit the My Pilates website for their class schedule and rates.
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