Are you looking for a change in your workout routine? Do you want to try something new? If the answer is yes then keep reading and find out something more about Pilates.
Pilates is a physical fitness system designed by Joseph Pilates, which aims to improve flexibility, build strength and develop control and endurance in the whole body. It is basically a whole body workout, which bases itself on certain principles.
Principles of Pilates
- Concentration – Like in every other workout concentration is key to performing Pilates exercises correctly. You have to be concentrated on the exercise so that you can perform a smooth movement.
- Control – When I say control, think about muscle control. You have to know when to release and when to strengthen your muscles or at least listen to your instructor.
- Centerring – Your center is a starting place in Pilates. This is the group of muscles in the center of the body – the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs. Instructors often call it a “powerhouse”. What they mean by engaging your powerhouse is keeping those muscles tight throughout the whole workout routine. By doing this you will strengthen the rest of your body as well.
- Flow/ efficiency of movement – You’ve probably heard about yoga flow right? If not, this means doing the poses one after another without a big obstruction in-between (pause, not holding the pose long enough etc. ) You should do the same in Pilates. The exercises should flow within and into each other.
- Precision – Be very precise while doing the exercises. Try your best to do the movements correctly.
- Breathing – The way you breathe is very important as well. That’s the first thing you’ll learn when you take your first Pilates class. You should breathe deep into the back and sides of your rib cage while inhaling and breathe of deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, almost like you are squeezing them while exhaling.
Benefits of Pilates
- Body awareness – it was so interesting to me how much more aware I were in the way I stand or sit in the first few weeks after starting my Pilates workout. The people, who practice have a better posture, they stand tall because they keep their abdominal muscles tight the whole time.
- Strong core – Talking about keeping your core muscles tight! After two weeks of practicing I noticed a huge difference in the way my belly looked. Now, I was never overweight but I didn’t have a six-pack either. Pilates has definitely changed my core muscles. They may not look like it but they are stronger!
- Reduces back pain – It is proved that Pilates can help you with back pain, especially in the lower back. Because it engages those muscles while practicing, they become stronger with the time. Thus, the pain disappears as well.
- Muscle – strengthening activity – One of the several questions an average girl like you and me would ask, if not the only question is “ Can I lose weight doing Pilates? “ And the answer is maybe. If you only do Pilates your muscles will strengthen, you will get definition and be able to maintain a healthy weight. Now, if you are on a weight loss journey, you’ll have to add something to your workout plan. It can be jogging, riding a bicycle, doing HIIT workouts, in one word – cardio. The reason for it is you need to lose fat and strengthen your muscles at the same time, in order to look lean and strong.
Apparatus vs. Mat
There are two ways of doing Pilates. The first one is in a studio with a special equipment – the Reformer, the Cadillac and the Wunda Chair. The second one is on a mat. I’ve never taken a Pilates class, so I don’t know much about the special equipment but I practice Pilates in the comfort of my own home regularly. You can even use hand weights, stretch bands, gym balls or foam rollers to take your workout up a notch. I, personally, don’t use any additional equipment; it is just me on my mat doing YouTube workout routines.
All in all, I think Pilates is a great addition to your workout plan. You train muscles that you didn’t even know you had and you give yourself a great stretch at the same time.
Have you already tried Pilates? If yes, what did you think of it, if not, are you willing to give it a try? Let me know in the comments below!