Pilates is a method of exercise inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. It is done by slow, sustained series of exercises using abdominal control and proper breathing. In this exercise the quality of each posture is important, not the number of repetitions or how energetically you can move.
Pilates was developed in the 1920s by physical trainer Joseph Pilates as a way to help injured athletes and dancers to safely return to exercise and maintain their fitness. Since then, it has been practiced to help people achieve a flexible, balance and strong body. If you have always admired the long, lean look of a dancer's body then Pilates is perfect for you.
How to benefit from Pilates exercise: It is important to keep in mind that there is a learning curve with Pilates, it is therefore essential to take the time to learn the basic. A typical Pilates workout would include a number of exercises performed at low repetitions in sets of five to 10, with session lasting up to 45 to 90 minutes.
Each exercise is performed with attention to proper breathing techniques and abdominal control. To gain the maximum benefit, you should do Pilates at least two or three times per week. You could notice postural improvements after 10 to 20 sessions.
- Pilates practitioner have seen improvements in range of motion, flexibility, posture, and abdominal strength, they also feel a decrease in back, neck and joint pain.
- Pilates teaches you the right way of breathing that helps to purify the body, increase lung capacity, build endurance and reduce stress.
- Pilates increases personal awareness, awareness of how you sit or how you stand or how you move.
- Pilates exercise is designed to stretch and lengthen your muscles it can therefore give your body a longer, leaner look and an overall improvement in your posture.
- Pilates strengthen the core muscles of the body (abdominal, lower back, hips and buttocks) area. When your core is strong, your limbs can move without adding excess strain to your spine and also helps improve balance and coordination.
- Pilates improves bone strength and it can safely rehabilitate the joint and spinal injuries.
- Pilates improves performance technique for athletes and dancers.
The two basic forms of Pilates include:
- Mat-based Pilates - this is the most popular form of Pilates because you can do the series of exercises on a mat with no equipment. The central aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of the body to improve posture, balance and coordination.
- Equipment-based Pilates - Pilates includes specific equipment including the "Reformer" or a "Cadillac" machine, which looks like a moveable carriage that you push and pull along the floor. This is usually done on a one-on-one basis with a qualified instructor and requires a strong foundation in the matwork exercises. Some forms of Pilates include free weights (such as dumbbells) that offer resistance to the muscles.