Tone Your Body and Align Your Spine: The Workout That Improves Your Wellbeing
Joseph Pilates, founder of the eponymous workout, once said "Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit." His attitude toward whole-body health has inspired devotees ranging from New York City ballerinas in the 1930s to supermodels and professional athletes today.
But whatever your fitness level, don't be intimidated—Pilates is for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or size.
What is Pilates?
Originally called "Contrology," Pilates is a repertoire of more than 600 exercise combinations crafted by Joseph Pilates. Focusing on small movements coordinated with breath and spine stabilization, the goal is a delicate balance of strength and flexibility. It can be done on a mat or reformer (that complicated-looking machine) which has a platform that rolls back and forth on wheels, allowing the user to carry out movements with varying resistance. The reformer is especially helpful for those recovering from injuries or who want to focus on core strengthening because it allows for isolated, controlled movements.
What to expect from a class
During a workout, instructors guide their classes through movements with breathing cues and postural corrections—remember, alignment is key! Over time, your body will be trained to remember this state of improved posture and balance. This is a concept called body awareness, meaning that you will be able to identify and correct daily patterns that may contribute to pain or less-than-optimal functioning, a 2018 article says.
A movement may seem simple, but 100 reps later you will discover muscles you've never used before! Classes can flow from the reformer to the springboard, then to the chair or mat. It's never the same class twice—but always easy on the joints. Because it is low impact, the risk of injury is much lower than just about any other type of exercise.
Participants should wear comfortable yet form-fitting clothing to avoid the possibility of it getting caught in the reformer. Leave those Nikes at the door, too—all you need are grippy socks.
The workouts prove to be incredibly effective when done right and done often. Joseph Pilates said, "In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body."
Body, mind, spine
If the prospect of a "new body" doesn't pique your interest, the proven physical and mental benefits of practicing Pilates might.
Medical studies have shown that regular One Postgraduate Medical Journal article found Pilates classes help reduce chronic back pain. Another 2017 article says Pilates can improve balance and overall quality of life compared to standard exercise programs. Who doesn't want fewer creaks and aches?
Another study showed that for adults 65 and up, Pilates reduced fall risk and significantly improved balance and mobility. In short, strength gained from Pilates results in balanced muscles, healthy joints, and the ability to move through life freely and powerfully.
Since poor posture and a weak core are two common causes of back pain, strengthening those deep core muscles can be a simple solution. So, if you've heard of "Pilates abs"—they are the result of the transverse abdominus, or deep core, being activated and bracing to lift and support the whole upper body.
Whatever level you are at, challenge your mind and body at Club Pilates. Sign up for your free intro class here!