Pilates is one of the best full body exercises you can come across in today’s world. There are plenty of benefits it offers for every individual who seeks to become healthier and more physically fit. But before we dive into the many reason why you should practice Pilates, we should talk a little about what exactly Pilates is and some of its history.
What is Pilates?
Similar to yoga, Pilates is a specific set of stretches and poses which focus on your body’s core strength. Many people who seek to improve their core strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, balance, and excellent posture turn to Pilates for help. There are a variety of different poses and forms when working with Pilates, and the key emphasis in all of these forms is absolute posture and correct form.
You have to utilize your whole body in order to perform each pose correctly and with total control. This is exactly why Pilates is considered to be one of the most engaging methods of strengthening your body. Also, since there is such a high variety of different poses, you will never get bored with Pilates and will always look forward to your next session.
Another exceptionally important part of Pilates is that it’s rather stationary, meaning you don’t have to run around or do crazy stunts to get your body sweating, this is great for those of us who are prone to hurting ourselves or athletics related injuries.
However, because the majority of Pilate’s exercises are stationary, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not as effective as other forms of exercise.
In fact, it is quite the opposite. You need extreme levels of concentration and body control to be able to pull off some of the poses associated with Pilates correctly. Pilates can be very challenging if you are up for the task.
Brief History of Pilates
Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates. He was born around Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883. There isn’t a lot of information about his early years, but it is known that he was a rather scrawny kid who suffered from asthma. He determined rather early in his life that he would overcome his ailments and this exact determination is what drove him to becoming a very capable diver, skier, and gymnast.
Around 1912, Pilates lived in England and worked as a circus performer while teaching self-defense classes. When World War One struck, he was interned with the other German nationals, where he started to develop his techniques of physical fitness further through teaching his fellow internees. During the second half of WWI, Pilates worked with patients who were unable to walk at a hospital located on the Isle of Man. He improvised the use of bed springs in order to construct a piece of equipment which was used to support patients’ limbs. This type of equipment is still used today and can be seen in most Pilate’s studios in its modified version.
During his emigration to United States in the 1920s, Pilates met his wife Clara with whom he taught their physical fitness techniques at a ‘body-conditioning gym’ in New York by 1926.
From then on, everything seemed to fall into place and the Pilates method started to take on shape while gaining much reputation amongst athletes and healthy body seekers. While Joe was the man behind the method and was the one who developed this specific exercise, it was his wife Clara who became the real teacher in their studios and who was determined enough to teach their apprentices the Pilates technique so that they could someday pass on the physical fitness knowledge and teach even more people this fantastic form of physical exercise.
Because English was Joe’s second language, learning his methods in the original studios was very hands on. Some of the Pilates elders, the original apprentices of the craft, describe Joe and Clara as sculptors who shaped and molded you into the correct pose or stance.
Basic Principals of Pilates
Joe Pilates had a very specific base determined for his exercise method. Everything was focused around proper breathing, whole-body commitment, and whole-body health. These basic pillars of Pilates can be achieved through utilization of a few core principals which all of Pilates is structured on. The principals are as follows:
- Breath: the ability to control your breathing in tune with your movements
- Concentration: clearing your mind and focusing on the physical tasks at hand
- Centering: utilizing the core of your body to center yourself and your stance
- Control: leaving no room for error and tuning your body to the highest level of control
- Precision: exact and measured movements which utilize the right amount of energy and strength
- Flow: fluid motion from one stance or pose to another without unnecessary interruptions
Joe had an extremely high emphasize on learning how to breathe correctly. He felt that proper breathing was the key element to mastering all of the other principals of his method.
What are some reasons to start doing Pilates?
Each person is different in their own way and the reason for why they decide to do something can vary from one person to the next. Pilates has a few different reasons which might trigger you to start practicing its exercise techniques either on your own or in a specialized Pilate’s studio. Here is a short list of a few reasons why some people might choose to better their physical life through this wonderful techniques created by John Pilates.
Pilates is focused around your whole body
This means that you aren’t just working out a certain part of your body with each move but rather that your core is being utilized to its capacity while using your whole body in its integrated system. Because of this method of workout, each session will help you improve your strength, flexibility, range of motion, and tone your balance. It is a truly remarkable system.
You can modify Pilate’s sessions to tailor your needs
This is the best part about Pilates. You can modify it whichever way you need to suit your specific needs. This means that literally anyone can use Pilates to better their health. Extreme athletes, injured persons, pregnant women, seniors and whoever else we might have missed, can all benefit from Pilates. There are hundreds of different variations of exercises and modifications for each one so that you can align everything in just the right way for your body.
Pilates can heal and prevent back injuries
There has been extensive research done to show that those who are suffering from back injuries heal significantly faster and improve their bank injury resistance drastically when using Pilates to remedy back pain rather than just pain medication. Pilates is being recommended by many doctors and chiropractors around the world to help with back pain.
It creates muscular balance
Muscular unbalance occurs when only one part of the body is put under physical stress. A good example of this is a person who plays golf. Their repeated actions for each golf swing create an environment where only certain muscles are being worked out. This causes those muscles to become larger in size while the rest of the body is lagging behind. Pilates uses your whole body in every exercise routine, which helps fix this muscle disproportion.
Weight loss is yet another possibility with Pilates
You might be thinking that Pilates is a walk in a park and there is no way it can promote weight loss, but the reality is that you are totally wrong. While it can be tailored to each person individually, after getting the basics down you can really start to challenge yourself with Pilate’s exercises. Even though it is low-impact, don’t underestimate the amount of strength and energy needed to go through a Pilate’s session.
Learning to breathe efficiently
Since breathing correctly is essentially the most important element of Pilates, you will expand your lung capacity with ease. Furthermore, your ribs will end up moving more freely, thus promoting an even better level of flexibility.
Pilates promotes mind and body connection
Many people overlook this little part of Pilate’s teachings. Joe was very strict about his technique being all about “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” This shows that your need to relax your mind, get in touch with your spirit, and coordinate your body to perfect each move and pay close attention to your body and what you are doing with it.
In conclusion, every person can find the reason to start practicing Pilates, but this isn’t enough.
One must also generate the will and the want-to attitude to better your health and physical status. If you dedicate yourself to Pilates, the outcome will be fantastic. However, you must remember that simply going to your local Pilates studio and following the guidance of your instructor without applying your mind to this exercise method isn’t enough. You have to put your heart into it, only then will Pilates reward you with a better body and mind.