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What exactly is Pilates?

 

Pilates is a method of exercise that engages the mind and conditions the total body. It is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, reduces stress and creates long, lean muscles without bulking up. Pilates works several muscle groups simultaneously through smooth, continuous motion, with a particular concentration on strengthening and stabilizing the core (the abdomen, back and pelvic girdle region, sometimes referred to as the "powerhouse").

Pilates is more dynamic than yoga but less aggressive, sweaty and high-impact than aerobics, jogging or gym-work, which, unlike Pilates, can all place damaging strain on the joints and/or heart.

Pilates helps you achieve such posture by strengthening the centre of the body so that it supports your lower back, helping you to stand straight and hold your upper body correctly.

The focus is on quality of movement rather than quantity, which makes one feel invigorated rather than exhausted after a session. Pilates takes a balanced approach so that no muscle group is overworked and the body works as an efficient, holistic system in sport and daily activity. Pilates exercises can be performed on a mat or on specialized equipment.

 

Pilates aims to achieve the following

 

  •     Gain long lean muscles and flexibility
  •     Improved flexibility and range of movement
  •     Improved strength of the core centre of the body
  •     Prevention and rehabilitation of back problems
  •     Pilates aids recovery from injury, and injury prevention.
  •     Improved posture
  •     Reduces stress
  •     Toning for all the muscles of the body
  •     Better coordination and mind-body connection.
  •     Increases mental focus and self control
  •     Improves self-esteem
  •     Improves quality of life
  •     Boosts body, mind and spirit

 

 

Ten reasons why you should try Pilates today:

 

1. Improved posture

 

Your spine supports the weight of your body and allows your body to move with ease and comfort. That's the theory anyway. But in practice, hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen or slumped in front of a TV means that the spine's natural S shape is lost, resulting in back pain and rounded shoulders. Pilates helps to re-align the spine and with that comes better posture

 

2. Relief from back pain

 

As mentioned above, a great deal of lower back pain comes from poor posture and our daily mistreatment of our spines. By re-aligning your spine and improving your posture, lower back pain can often be eliminated entirely.

 

3. A good night's sleep

 

Ask anyone to name three things essential for life and you will be told, water, air and food. Few people will mention sleep and yet it too is essential to life. Pilates can help stretch muscles, releasing tension and pain, and it can also help trigger natural sleep responses.

 

4. Increase your strength and stamina without adding muscle bulk

 

Pilates helps increase both your strength and stamina without adding unwanted bulk because it focuses on developing your "core" muscles - muscles found in your abdominal and pelvic regions as well as in your back. By toning and stretching these muscles, and by correcting your posture, your natural strength and stamina will improve in leaps and bounds.

 

5. Pilates can help prevent osteoporosis

 

One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the Western World will break a bone, mainly because of a bone disorder called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects millions of people every year, with bones (and particularly those of the spine, wrist and hips) becoming thin and weak and susceptible to fractures. By promoting good posture and balance, pilates can actively help you avoid becoming one of those people.

 

6. A great way to relax and beat stress

 

Pilates is a gentle form of exercise that literally re-introduces you to your own body. And the better you understand your body and how it works, the easier it will be for you to release tension, relax and beats the stresses and strains of modern life.

 

7. Help with prevention of incontinence

 

Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence. A common cause of this type of incontinence in women is pregnancy, where the pelvic floor muscles can be weakened, but as we get older muscles in the pelvic area can weaken too. Pilates will help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, thereby curing what can be a very distressing problem for sufferers.

 

8. Improve your balance and co-ordination

 

Pilates helps improve your balance and co-ordination by realigning your spine and strengthening your "core" muscles. And better balance and co-ordination means fewer injuries - hence pilates growing popularity among professional sports people - from dancers to rugby players.

 

9. Helps aid recovery after injury - and prevent injury recurring

 

Because of its low impact nature, pilates is widely recognised as being beneficial to people who are recovering from certain types of injury including whiplash and a wide range of sporting injuries. Indeed, many of the injuries that sports people are afflicted with can be avoided - and pilates can play a big part in ensuring correct body movement and core body strength leads to fewer such injuries.

 

10. No pain plenty gain!

 

In most gyms you will hear the mantra "no pain, no gain", but you won't hear it repeated in a pilates studio. Pilates is a gentle non-aerobic form of exercise that will tone and strengthen your muscles and transform poor posture without stressing the joints or the heart.