What is it? Pilates is system of physical fitness developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It was formed during the First World War with the aim to benefit the rehabilitation program that soldiers when through after casualties and aid the injured soldiers to regain their health by the strengthening, stretching and stabilization of key muscles. Joe preferred his system with few and precise movements, that required control and technique combined with repetition. He also believed that mental and physical health were essential to each other, and used correct alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement to establish a perfectly working body from the inside to the outside; these are the Pilates principles.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Pilates classes are extremely popular and have been optimized to build strength, flexibility, lean muscle tone and an added emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine. Pilates will also focus more on the core which is thought to be the ‘powerhouse’ of the body, which resides between the shoulders and pelvis (disregarding the arms and legs) and contains all the muscles within that area. The main muscles of the core are the Transverse Abdominus, Pelvic Floor and Multifidus muscles where those taking Pilates classes learn about and train them.
Because of its core focus, Pilates is not only popular in use for fitness, but also for rehabilitation after injury. This is done so by incorporating the Pilates method with movements that represent their day-to-day activities. The focus on the core also promotes the awareness of posture and improves the postural stance are well indicated to relieve and prevent back, neck and joint pains.
The benefits of Pilates are extensive, and near endless, but here are a few of the main benefits that attract the most attention to Pilates:
- During Pilates movements the muscles are lengthened and strengthened whilst the overall tone of the muscle is improved without creating bulk.
- Overall slimming is to be expected along with vastly increased flexibility and mobility, even in a short span of time.
- Inner strength and heightened body awareness
- Time out for yourself and a stress relief, not in the ‘ohm’ meditation style, but stress relief from the mind and body connection activated during Pilates.
- Pilates is the type of workout where you leave with increased energy levels, a clearer mindset, and a body that feel stronger after each class, as apposed to feeling tired and disheveled after spending what can be hours at the gym
- There are numerous positive systematic effects on all of the bodily systems such as stimulating and eliminating toxins and waste. The digestive system is also benefited which includes an increase in the metabolic rate, along side with the boost received by the body’s immune system.
- Pilates can also be more specific in improvements for different populations including, but not limited to, pelvic floor function, bone density improvement and increased lung capacity and breathing technique improvement and many more.
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