What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany where he was a carpenter and gymnast. He developed Pilates as an exercise program for injured dancers and soldiers while living in the UK. Joseph Pilates made an important connection between physical and mental health –recognising the two were connected. In the 1920’s he immigrated to the US and opened a Pilates studio in New York. Originally this form of exercise was called Contrology.
Pilates is a form of exercise which concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength. This helps to improve general fitness and overall well-being. Pilates concentrates on posture, balance and flexibility. The gentle nature of Pilates means that the chances of injury are much lower than in other forms of strenuous exercise.
Pilates also focuses on the mind-body connection. An important part of Pilates is the breath work that goes alongside the completion of different Pilates exercises.
Can Anyone Do Pilates?
Because Pilates can be modified to provide either a gentle strength training program or a challenging workout, most people would have no problem with this form of exercise. It is suitable both for beginners and for people who already exercise regularly.
If you’re a beginner you can start with basic exercises and then once you’ve mastered those, you can work on the more advanced moves.
If you have a muscle or joint problem or chronic pain, it is important to gain an assessment from an appropriately trained professional to ensure you start at the correct level and are completing the exercises correctly.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
Improved posture – Pilates will teach you to gain and maintain good posture. The exercises strengthen the ability of the muscles to hold your spine in a good posture.
Improved muscle tone – The exercises will involves using muscles that you may not use on a daily basis. These muscles will in time become more toned.
Flexibility – We tend to become less flexible with age. Pilates can help you restore some of your flexibility.
Reduces stress – Pilates promotes relaxation through focus on breathing whilst completing the exercise. As well as improving fitness, you can also leave a Pilates class feeling very relaxed.
Improved wellness and wellbeing –Pilates exercises a mix of your body and your mind therefore it can help in improving overall wellbeing
What Areas of The Body Does Pilates Target?
Pilates works mainly on your core muscles which support your spine. This can be why Pilates can help if you struggle with lower back pain. Pilates can also strength your legs, especially your upper thighs, and your buttocks.
Do You Need Any Special Equipment?
The main piece of equipment needed when starting out is a mat on the floor. Small equipment such as balls and bands can be used to provide variety with the exercises and progress exercises.
At some studios you will find specialised Pilates equipment like the Reformer, the Cadillac or special barrels and chairs.