Pilates has gained popularity over the last decade. Joseph Pilates developed Pilates exercises and principles during WWI while he nursed sick and wounded soldiers. What makes “Pilates principles” so unique and how do they integrate into everyday exercise routines?
Pilates principles teach us how to focus on controlled movement and proper technique while initiating all movement from our body’s deep core muscles, called our “powerhouse.” Much emphasis is put on proper alignment of the body while using the correct muscles to perform the exercises. Pilates stretches, strengthens, and balances the body with each exercise. Doing all this while focusing on smooth breathing allows for improved mind-body connection.
Pilates for Everyone
People of all ages and fitness levels benefit from the application of Pilates principles to their exercise routine. Pilates exercises can be performed on a mat but can also be done on specific pieces of equipment called the reformer, chair, and cadillac. Due to the popularity of Pilates, many adaptations of these exercises are now available.
When performing Pilates, ensure that you are engaging the correct muscles while performing the proper technique. Most Pilates advocates encourage people to take some classes with a certified Pilates instructor and to begin with mat-based exercises until the basic principles are mastered.
Many moves engage deep muscles that are difficult to isolate, and subtle adjustments can make the difference between effective and ineffective exercise. If the proper foundation of isolating the deep core muscles is overlooked, a person may think they are doing Pilates, and to the untrained eye they may even look like they are doing Pilates, but they are not gaining the benefits they would if they were performing the exercises properly.
Pilates for Athletes
Pilates principles can improve performance in any sport. Runners, bikers, weight lifters, golfers, and racket sports enthusiasts find that when they are trained to initiate power at their core and then work it out to their extremities the results are amazing.
Pilates teaches athletes how to sequentially recruit specific muscle groups to fire in the proper order. At the same time, athletes are tuned into the proper alignment of their body, improving balance and minimizing injuries. The synchronization of the mind and body is a key element of success in any sport.
While Pilates is very beneficial to sport, its benefits are also seen during everyday activities. When you “retrain” your body to use the deep core muscles in a balanced, controlled way, injuries are minimized. Something as simple as taking out the trash can be done without putting excess stress on the spine and creating imbalance.
One of everyone’s favorite Pilates benefits is the way it makes you look. As you continue to master the exercises you will stand taller, look leaner, and develop a flatter stomach. Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA championship, states that ever since he began doing Pilates he’s so stretched out and has such great posture that he looks and feels like a different person.
People of all ages and fitness levels are discovering the benefits of Pilates. As with any new skill, it takes patience to learn how to perform the exercises correctly. However, once you have mastered the principles, the benefits last a lifetime.