Pilates – What Is It?
It – Pilates – is a type of exercise that is low impact.
The aim behind Pilates is to strengthen a large variety of muscles, to improve flexibility, and to improve body posture. Correct breathing is also a goal of Pilates.
Pilates targets the body’s core in the main, though other areas are targeted too, depending on your needs.
You don’t require any equipment for Pilates, though you can use equipment.
Typically, a Pilates workout is around 45 minutes to an hour in duration.
1 Pilates classes consist of two different formats: reformer and mat.
The mat is used to cushion the body. It’s a little thicker than a yoga mat.
Reformer Pilates relies on a machine. The machine comes with a sliding platform, various springs, pulleys, and a stationary foot bar.
Regardless you opt for mat-focused Pilates or reformer, the main goal is to achieve control as opposed to obtaining muscle exhaustion via endless reps.
While mat Pilates and reformer Pilates are considered to be “classic” Pilates, there are alternative workouts that are inspired by Pilates, too.
2 Other equipment used in Pilates.
Most mat-based Pilates classes don’t require the addition of anything other than a mat. The mat is usually provided for all class attendees.
Other types of Pilates classes utilize different pieces of equipment, usually in addition to the reformer.
Among the most common Pilates equipment besides the reformer are:
- Cadillac (tower unit)
- Magic Circle
- High Chair
- Spine Corrector
3 There is no restriction to which body parts you focus on with Pilates.
While Pilates moves do keenly focus on the body’s core and the trunk, it most certainly is not merely about the abs.
Rather, it’s about abs, hips, outer and inner thighs, as well as the back.
As such, you can expect that, during a Pilates class, you’ll get a whole-body workout.
4 For the beginner, classes tend to feature the same type of exercises.
For the beginner, there is an established group of Pilates moves.
Those moves are inclusive of:
- The Hundred (breathing exercise which targets stability and core strength).
- Leg circles (strengthens the core stabilizers and hips).
- Rolling like a ball (this exercise opens the back up and massages the spine).
- Roll up (the roll up is a move that is slow and precise. It helps in that it stretches the spine while aiding to strengthen the abs).
- Series of 5 (a series of moves, each of which help to strengthen the back and ab muscles).
5 Body-hugging clothing is best, together with socks.
For Pilates classes, it’s highly advisable to wear body-hugging clothes as opposed to loose-fitting apparel.
There are two reasons for this: The clothing you wear doesn’t get caught up in the equipment; the Pilates instructor can closely study your movements (necessary as a beginner) and advise accordingly.
No need for shorts, though. Shorts easily ride up when performing Pilates exercises.
Leggings or capris are a far better alternative, together with a fitted long-sleeve shirt or a tank top.
What footwear is best for Pilates?
Socks or barefoot, though, for the most part, the studio you go to will likely maintain their own footwear protocol.
Ideally, if you do opt for socks, go for the ones with rubber detailing on the under-sole. Helps you to avoid slippage.
6 Different language is used, depending on the studio. If you are not familiar with the lingo, others will help you.
Here are a few commonplace Pilates terms to get your going.
Powerhouse: In reference to the central area of the body. This is where the power comes from, hence the name/ term.
Peel through your spine: From vertebra to vertebra, the “peel through your spine” is a very slow, deliberate movement.
Inner eye: Having an awareness of both posture as well as alignment.
Here’s a lengthy list of relatively common Pilates terms care of Jillian Hessel.
7 Utilize Pilates as part of an overall fitness plan.
It may be tempting, if you are new to Pilates, to join in with a Pilates class every day if your local studio offers it.
You shouldn’t, though.
With fatiguing-type exercises like Pilates, the body needs to get plenty of rest to fully recover – perhaps a day, maybe two.
Pilates is about stretching, strengthening, and aligning you body – all at the same time.
While achieving that, it also complements every other type of fitness regime. That’s because Pilates prepares the body in such a way that it can manoeuver much better.
If you do Pilates, you’ll be able to run faster, swim faster and with improved form, lift heavier weights, and much more besides.
What are the advantages of doing Pilates exercises on a regular basis?
1 Pilates helps in toning up the muscles. Consequently, it also can help with weight loss.
2 It helps to strengthen the overall body. But with particular emphasis on the body’s core muscles. Thus, Pilates helps to improve strength in addition to overall fitness.
3 Pilates improves range of motion, balance, and body awareness. Many athletes, in particular, find this to be very useful.
4 Pilates is suited to the beginner. For many beginners, Pilates is, in fact, easier than yoga and it requires less flexibility.
5 Pilates helps to improve body posture. It helps to stop slouching. It also helps you to achieve more graceful movements.
6 Those that suffer from joint-related problems can successfully do Pilates. Pilates is ideal for those that require rehabilitation after injury.
7 Pilates is low impact. You can enjoy a very healthy workout without the need for too much sweat.
What about the disadvantages of Pilates exercises?
1 Swimming or running will provide you with a more strenuous physical workout than Pilates. Hence, Pilates is not ideal for weight loss. Nevertheless, Pilates does help to build and strengthen muscles, so calories are burned during rest periods.
2 Those that utilize Pilates for injury rehabilitation require a customized program. You can’t simply join a general Pilates class for injury rehab purposes.
3 Some people feel frustrated at a seeming lack of progress with Pilates. This is because Pilates workouts, in general, don’t offer the same kind of returns that you achieve with other forms of exercise.
4 For the best results, Pilates exercises must be performed in a precise manner. There’s a high degree of concentration required which is not always easily achieved.