Pilates is an incredibly popular form of exercise. Similar to (and sometimes confused with) yoga, Pilates offers an all-round, integrated workout that focuses on core strength, muscle development, balance, and concentration.
It was developed in the early 20th Century by its namesake, Joseph Pilates, and has only grown in popularity since then. Nowadays you can find Pilates classes almost anywhere you go, and with good reason. As the founder himself said, “[Pilates] develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and evaluates the spirit.”
So let’s take a look at why Pilates is such a great workout.
Builds strength, not bulk
Pilates is more about developing long lean muscles as opposed to straight bulk. So it’s an excellent choice for those who are looking for tone and not size.
The movements involved in Pilates also place a lot of emphasis on the core, engaging the abdominal muscles and muscles closest to the spine. What you will develop as a result of this is the sort of functional strength that is beneficial in everyday life.
Increases flexibility and improves posture
When you practise Pilates, you’re working towards increasing muscle length and improved range of joint motion. By achieving this, you may see an improvement in overall flexibility and mobility.
A strong core supports proper alignment, and proper alignment promotes good posture. By training and strengthening the abdominal and lower back muscles, your posture should naturally come into alignment. This is part of the reason why Pilates is often said to help those suffering from back pain.
Can be modified
One of the best reasons to practise Pilates is its accessibility. Many of the moves can be modified to accommodate a broad range of skill and fitness levels, which means that beginners can jump straight in.
Setting your own difficulty level means that you can push yourself as and when you feel like it, and if any of the movements become too intense, you can take them down a notch.
Pilates is also an incredibly gentle form of exercise. This by no means suggests that it’s easy, but the fact that many of the movements are performed from a seated or reclining position means that there’s virtually no impact, and very little external strain on the body.
Good for the mind
Pilates challenges you to focus all of your attention on the movements you’re performing. The slow, flowing nature of the exercises requires unwavering concentration, and the emphasis on proper breathing introduces an aspect of mindfulness.
Suffice to say, lots of people comment on how much calmer and more clear-headed they feel after a Pilates class!
If Pilates sound like your sort of exercise, and you’ve yet to take a class, why not come along to Jesmond Pool, where we offer classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. For more information, visit our Pilates page.