As a Pilates Instructor, I find new clients that were once indifferent to Pilates become Pilates lovers after a few sessions. Have you ever wondered why? What is the big deal about Pilates anyways? A common thing people say to me after starting my Pilates classes is “I wished I started Pilates 10 years ago”. Let me explain why.
You’ve probably heard about Pilates before. And if you haven’t, you definitely will soon! It’s become a hugely popular exercise technique over the last several years, and for good reason. The benefits of Pilates are numerous and have been proven time and time again to be effective. So what exactly is Pilates?
Pilates is usually described as an exercise program that targets the core. While this is true it is a whole-body workout. Pilates focuses on giving the body particular energy all while working to strengthen it from head to toe.
What’s the difference between Yoga and Pilates?
As Pilates is a mat-based exercise program it has some similarities to yoga. However, they are very different in their philosophies and practice.
Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago in India and has a more holistic, philosophical approach. Practicing Yoga can include:
- Increasing flexibility
- Improving energy
- Understanding that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected
Whereas Pilates was created in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates using more rehabilitative exercises to heal the body. Pilates core principles focus on control, centering, concentration, precision, breathwork, and creating fluidity in the body. More specifically Pilates works to:
- Improve core strength and stability
- Improve posture and balance
- Improve flexibility
- Prevent and help treat back pain
Who Pilates specifically benefits:
Pilates can help benefit everyone as it works to prevent stiffness in the body and allows the body to move with ease. Sometimes with age and prolonged sitting (hi there, quarantine), we can create poor movement patterns in the body. Pilates targets many of the intrinsic/small muscles in the body to promote agility, full-body strength, optimal aging, and mobility.
The following are examples of how Pilates can benefit specific individuals:
Postpartum women – helps to build strength through the abdominal core in a safe manner. Pilates works to reduce and heal diastasis recti and prevent it from recurring. Pilates is what I credit for getting my body back after having my children. You can read more about my Pilates transformation here.
Seniors – builds balance and strengthens stabilizing muscles in the foot, hips, and core to prevent trips and falls. In addition, since Pilates is a low-impact weight-bearing exercise program it is ideal for seniors who may be suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia. It also works to maintain bone density (or improve) bone density.
Back Surgery and Rehab – Pilates is excellent to build strength in the body after back surgery. Since the exercises focus on building core and back strength it is ideal for the rehabilitation phase.
Runners, Athletes, and Active Adults – Pilates works on alignment and keeping the muscles in the body balanced. As we move, we can develop compensatory movement patterns in our bodies causing some muscles to fire and others to lay dormant. Athletes or active adults may notice injuries and pain in the body with incorrect movement patterns. Pilates is an excellent choice to keep the muscles in our body in harmony and moving with fluidity.
So, what is the best way to start a Pilates practice?
First, check out your local studios. Most cities and towns have at least one dedicated Pilates studio that offers classes at various levels and intensities. You can also find group classes online if you don’t have access to a studio nearby!
Next, commit to doing at least 30 minutes of Pilates every other day (ideally) or at least two times per week. This might seem intimidating at first because it’s hard work! But remember: You’re doing this for yourself—your body will thank you later when it’s stronger, more flexible and healthier than ever before!
We all have different reasons why we practice Pilates. Don’t be surprised if you start to feel 10 years younger by incorporating this amazing body science into your life. Regardless of your lifestyle or activity level including Pilates into your weekly schedule helps to make everyday activities easier and perform at your best.
– Christine Kirkland is a Certified Pilates Instructor offering online Pilates classes. She specializes in helping adults to increase their balance, strength, mobility and feel their best every day. Try a free Pilates class that is uniquely gentle on your joints by clicking here. See for yourself how amazing Pilates will make you feel!
Pilates Return to Life through Contrology