For many, Pilates is just the latest fad in exercise today. Many people have heard of it, some have tried it, but most are not exactly sure what it is or why they should do it.
Pilates is a unique system of stretching and strengthening exercises. Pilates is designed to create a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy life. The Pilates philosophy focuses on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness. Many people try to compare it to yoga when actually it is a different concept from yoga. Pilates focuses on core stabilization, strength, and control and then works the body outward from there—thus using the body as a whole unit rather than focusing on it in sections. Pilates starts with six principles: 1) concentration, 2) control, 3) center, 4) fluidity, 5) precision, and 6) breath.
So why should we choose Pilates over other exercise programs or philosophies? Well the answer is easy. Pilates is the only form of total body conditioning that is beneficial for all walks of life. Pilates can challenge the competitive athlete, help rehabilitate the injured, enhance quality of life for the aging body, and strengthen the active lifestyle in every avenue of physical activity.
Pilates is very beneficial to the golfing community by working on the rotation, balance, and stability. The golf swing is a science that can be improved with the proper muscle grouping strength found in many Pilates’ exercises. Pilates is very popular among pregnant women because of the benefits they gain during the labor process. Many of the breathing techniques teach the body control through stress and allow the intrinsic muscle groups around the internal organs to do what they were trained to do during labor. Pilates involves working on the development of the intrinsic muscles in the core, which is an excellent workout without putting strain or tension on the baby during the developmental stages of pregnancy.
Pilates is also found to be very beneficial to people with osteoporosis or scoliosis of the spine, since Pilates focuses so much on spinal health and alignment. Many of the exercises work on the unbalanced musculature associated with scoliosis and strengthen trunk weakness found in osteoporosis. Pilates is an excellent source of rehab for the body, especially for those who suffer from neck and back injuries. The primary concepts of Pilates rehab stems from core strength. Thus every exercise done in Pilates starts and ends with the abdominal wall, which then gives the support the back needs for rehabilitation of the vertebra.
Joseph Pilates believed, “Physical Fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” The benefits that you will attain are heightened body awareness, enhanced body control, increased serotonin into the brain, oxygenated blood which nourishes the body on a cellular level, reduced toxins, and better posture and alignment. It provides a safe, effective, and non-impact exercise for pre-natal women and serves as cross-training for athletic pursuits and daily activities.
There are two different types of Pilates: 1) mat work, which is done on the floor and 2) equipment work. Mat work is a series of exercises that are designed to strengthen and tone the entire body through your own body’s resistance. The equipment consists of the Reformer, the Cadillac, and the Wunda Chair. Each piece is designed to lengthen, tighten, and tone. The universal Reformer is a bed-like platform that enables you to perform a variety of exercises in different positions for both beginners or advanced students. The Reformer gives you the opportunity to work the whole body in a bio-mechanically sound way.
The Cadillac is an elevated bed-like platform that has a variety of springs attached to the sides and a trapeze type swing that is able to move back and forth along the Cadillac’s length. The Cadillac provides a great way to teach the body to move, especially a body with movement problems. It is a very versatile piece of equipment that can challenge everyone. The Wunda Chair is designed to balance the body in motion. Some of the Reformer work can be done on the Wunda Chair, but the exercises become much more advanced because you’re supporting your own weight. The Wunda Chair is back
less which means you must engage your “Powerhouse” at all times. The Chair is more challenging because you’re working against gravity while using your core to balance.
Pilates is an excellent choice for physical fitness or a great supplemental workout for the physically active body. Try a mat class today or take a private class, breath deeply, and enjoy the ability to move the body. Namaste.
Jenni Suhr is a certified Pilates instructor for Jan’s Gym. For appointments and information, call 757-481-1915 or visit www.jennipilates.com.