Pilates is a form of exercise that was originally developed in the early 1900’s by Joseph Hubertus Pilates (born: 9th December, 1883 in Mönchengladbach, Germany), with the aim of helping the body to gain strength and flexibility. Joseph was a self-defence instructor during World War I, and he rigged-up the springs in hospital beds so his patients could exercise while they were bedridden. Later this system simply became known as Pilates. It can be practiced on mats without any equipment, however some classes may use intricate machines to add extra resistance targeting a wide variety of different angles for your workout. This type of exercise doesn’t just tone your body, it can in fact help you in numerous ways. Keep reading on for these Top 5 Benefits of Pilates and have your wallet at hand, because by the end of this article you’ll probably want to book your first (or next) class!
1. Strong core
Pilates provides extensive support and strengthening to your back and abdominal muscles. It not only helps you gain strength on the visible side of your abs, it also tones the underlying, deep inner-core muscles, which will help you get that flat tummy you’ve always wanted!
2. Whole body control
It trains the whole body instead of just isolating certain muscles, therefore you can reach your goals quicker. Joseph Pilates said “True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.” Pilates can also strengthen your hip and leg joints to promote stability; as a result you’ll also notice great improvement in your natural ‘S-shape’ curvature, as your spine will be more neutrally (thus naturally) aligned.
You can quite easily and systematically increase your flexibility – similarly as you do with yoga. Pilates helps by improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion, which will help you to improve your athletic performance as well as everyday tasks like reaching for high shelf items at the supermarket or having fun running around the park with your kids sans fatigue!
4. Prevent injuries
When you practice Pilates regularly, you’ll begin to ‘tune in’ with your body, developing a keener mental and physical awareness. You will be able to correct your posture and other bad habits naturally and intuitively, and you’ll also be able to create better movement patterns, program them into your neuro-muscular memory and decrease the chance of re-aggravating old injuries or developing new ones.
A further ongoing benefit of Pilates is that many of the exercises will help get you balanced. With improved balance, you can coordinate your movements better, and improve your reaction times in everyday situations which can in turn help you pre-empt accidents. Increased control and stability is crucial for older, more senior adults as it helps them retain their independence by improving much of their functional movement and recovering quickly from knocks or falls. (Maintained and enhanced bone density is a direct benefit you get from exercising, and we’ll be covering this in more detail soon!)
Pilates is a form of training that has something to offer people of all ages sizes and abilities, regardless of fitness level, from beginners to athletes. However, many people to this day confuse yoga with pilates: whilst you hold certain postures to strengthen muscle groups in yoga, in Pilates you’re using controlled movements to stretch muscles. Unlike other workouts, Pilates doesn’t emphasize repetition of movements, it focuses on the quality of each move done instead. As they say, after 10 classes you FEEL the difference, after 20, you’ll SEE the difference and after 30 classes EVERYONE ELSE WILL SEE the difference – as long as it’s done correctly. Let us know which stage you’re at and how Pilates has helped you on your health and fitness journey by commenting below or @ KeepFitKingdom !