So you’ve been thinking about starting Pilates? You’ve seen the videos on Instagram, but not sure what it’s really all about? We’ve outlined the 7 Key Body Benefits that Studio Pilates offers, that you can’t get from any other workout.
Pilates is an exact and intuitive method, practised regularly it can help both maintain and heal the body. As we’re coming into summer it can definitely help get you started on the journey towards more toned muscles (hello arms and butt) and a longer, leaner looking physique.
1. Control of movement – ask anyone who has done Leg Strapwork on the Reformer and they will tell you that control is a key part of being able to execute the movements correctly and strengthen the targeted muscles in Pilates. It’s often more challenging to move in a slow and controlled manner than to race through movements using momentum. One of the original principles of Joseph Pilates’ work was purposefully acquiring complete control of your own body, and moving with natural rhythm and coordination. In its original form, Pilates was often used for rehab and training for professional dancers in New York, allowing them to perform each night in peak physical condition. Imagine what it can do for you!
2. Pelvic Floor – as one of the many ‘floors’ in the body, the Pelvic Floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that sits horizontally in the body and supports the bladder, uterus and bowel. Because the openings from these organs pass through the Pelvic Floor it can come under a lot of pressure not only from everyday activities but throughout pregnancy and giving birth, as well as it’s associations with incontinence, prostate cancer treatment in males or the pressure from obesity. Pilates can help with finding a connection with the Pelvic Floor as well as strengthening the muscles of the Pelvic Floor to (you guessed it) create more control of the muscle group. Pilates can also assist with breathing techniques and specifically targeted movements to assist in relieving pressure on the Pelvic Floor.
3. Core musculature and strength – ‘Core’ is probably one of the most overused words in the fitness and wellness industries. What does it even mean? Are your abdominals your core? We break down common myths in Studio Pilates and work with the muscle groups by name, helping you get a better understanding of where you’re supposed to feel things and what muscles we’re trying to target. Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit – however, there is a lot of focus on deep abdominals and glutes to create muscular power with corresponding endurance.
4. Postural control and endurance – Many of us find ourselves living in bodies that are not always complimentary to our minds (or egos!) – an idea that Joseph Pilates honed in on. He worked to create a method that would provide body development in a uniform way – spine, trunk, arms and legs, despite long hours of office work, daily labours, and hunching over our devices and creating slumped shoulders and poor postural alignment. Pilates can help with correction of faulty postures, work on the safe extension of the spine and strengthening of the muscles through the posterior chain, allowing you to, over time, maintain correct postural alignment without undue body fatigue or mental strain.
5. Mind-Body connection – One of the major benefits of Pilates is gaining some mastery over the mind in order to start to control the body. There are a lot of mindfulness systems and exercises which can provide real benefits, however, if you’re the type of person who gets distracted easily or loses focus – Pilates can help train you to maintain control of the mind. Balance work and exercises requiring coordination and focus, allow you to use the mind and body at the same time and often provides not only an opportunity to practice increased focus and concentration but that helps to switch off the mind from the constant stream of thoughts and drudgery of everyday life.
6. Functional Strength and stability – We all want to move well in everyday life, that’s the goal, to be able to execute daily activities and routines without a thought as to whether your back can handle getting out of the car or lifting your baby out of the cot. Pilates works to help with functional movement by not only creating strength and endurance in ‘core musculature’ – deep abdominals, glutes and strengthening the back extensors, but by working on the body in a uniform way to better condition the body for physical fitness, strength and stability for everyday movements and everyday life.
7. Mobility and length (flexibility) – With dedicated practice Pilates will give you natural grace and suppleness that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, work and play – words to live by! The exercises themselves provide the opportunity for the release of muscles, as well as strengthening and building endurance, with the addition of specifically targeted stretch series’ to work on lengthening muscles and creating more space in the body. Tightness in the body can often result in pain or straining of muscles as they work harder to perform their roles or compensate for other weaker or tighter muscles. With patience and persistence Pilates can create more movement in the body, rather than take it away through shortened or stiff muscles.
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