You’ve probably read about it in magazines, seen it on TV, overheard it in a conversation, maybe even seen a studio pop up in your neighborhood&what; is it, Pilates!
Developed by Joseph Pilates over 80 years ago to help rehabilitate injured soldiers during World War I, Pilates has become a popular fitness program to help improve posture, flexibility, coordination, strength and tone by working the deep muscles of the body and the spine. It is a non-impact full body workout that has also been said to reduce stress, relieve tension, and boost energy levels.
Pilate’s philosophy of “quality of movement, not quantity,” is appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. The focus is strengthening from the inside out, with a strong emphasis on the muscles in the abdomen, back and pelvic girdle region; often referred to as the “powerhouse”. Use of specialized equipment and props helps to perform the exercises so that you can safely sculpt, tone, and stretch your muscles. Unlike traditional strength training, which tends to focus on one muscle group at a time, Pilates incorporates the entire body as a whole, using multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing you with a very functional workout.
Pilates exercises are performed either on a mat (often using props such as physio balls and resistance circles), or on specialized equipment such as a Reformer or Ladder Barrel. Most fitness facilities and gyms offer Pilates Mat classes and are a great place to learn the principles behind the program. Pilates studios offer one on one training and semi private sessions and utilize the specialized equipment, offering a wider range of exercises.
Like many specialized exercise formats, Pilates has over 500 specific exercises and requires special training. It is important to make sure you work with an instructor or trainer that has a Pilates Certification. If you prefer exercising at home, there are also hundreds of titles of Pilates exercise videos, DVD’s and books on the market, by qualified professionals.
With any new exercise program, it is always good to start out slow and build your momentum. Even if you have been doing other activities, whenever you change what you are doing, or add a new program; you may experience some soreness. Be sure to always allow adequate rest between workout sessions to ensure optimal results and reduce your risk of injury.
Please Note: Always consult a physician before beginning any excercise program.