7 reasons to try Pilates today
Pilates was developed by a German man, Joseph Pilates, in the early 20th century, and it quickly took off as a fitness craze across the USA and UK. The exercises carried out are designed to strengthen the body through core strength, body alignment and stretching.
Pilates has six main principles:
- Flow or efficiency of movement
You'll need to master all of these in order to be good at Pilates, but most classes work at a slow pace, allowing you to get there in your own time. Breathing is particularly important in Pilates – full inhalation and forced exhalation, or lateral breathing, help engage and tone your deep abdominal muscles.
Pilates is a very precise and controlled form of exercise, so it's better to work slowly, concentrating on getting each movement correct, rather than rushing through a workout, as this will help you to see the benefits. Pilates work starts at the centre of the body, referred to as the 'powerhouse' – your abdomen, hips, upper and lower back, buttocks and inner thighs. Focusing on this area helps to strengthen your entire body.
It's generally easy to find a gym or Pilates instructor near you, and you'll usually find you can sign up for a block of classes or drop in on a pay-as-you-go basis. Results are visible after just a couple of sessions, and Pilates is great for creating a long, lean body – Gwyneth Paltrow is a celebrity fan. Pilates will help you to tone and strengthen muscles without adding bulk. So grab your mat and check out our 7 reasons to try Pilates; we guarantee you'll love it!
#1. It's great for toning
Weights and other exercises are all very well for toning, but what about if you don't want to add bulk and you're looking for a more relaxing form of exercise? The slow, controlled movements of Pilates gently tone your muscles without bulking up and they also help to lengthen your body. You'll feel the burn after just one session – most noticeably in your core muscles around your tummy area, and if you motivate yourself to attend once or twice every week, you'll usually see results pretty quickly.
#2. It's low impact
If you're looking for a low impact workout, you might have considered Yoga, but why not give Pilates a go? It can safely be practised during pregnancy, although you should always check with your doctor, and its slow, controlled movements make it ideal for all ages and levels of fitness; you can work at your own pace. Forget running or the gym; Pilates is what it's all about this season!
#3. It gives you stronger core muscles
If you've ever suffered from back or shoulder pain, you'll know how debilitating it can be. Pilates can help to strengthen your core, from your abdomen to your back and pelvis. This not only means a flatter tummy, but also stronger muscles and a healthier you!
#4. It increases flexibility
Gymnasts and figure skaters swear by Pilates techniques to improve their flexibility, and you can use it to your benefit too. Why not combine Pilates with Yoga for the ultimate mind-body workout? Pilates can really help to boost your flexibility and overall fitness, if you stick at it and stay motivated.
#5. It boosts your energy levels
Ok, so it's true that all exercise gets those endorphins pumping and your energy levels rising, but Pilates can also help to improve your circulation. What does this mean? Well, your muscles will be stimulated, your breathing will become easier and you'll feel more alert. This quickly becomes an addictive cycle – the more energised you feel, the more you'll want to exercise.
#6. It perfects your posture
Yoga is great for toning and flexibility, but Pilates can help to improve your posture and your balance. If you're a clumsy, accident prone type then this could change your life! Pilates exercises can lengthen and straighten your spine, and better posture can help prevent back and shoulder injuries as well as boosting your self-confidence.
#7. It gives you a healthy body and healthy mind
Pilates and yoga are both great ways to relax and de-stress in this hectic world we live in. By focusing so intensely on Pilates techniques, you become more aware of your body and help to sharpen your mind. This also lead to greater concentration – it's the ideal way to take your mind off your worries. Relax at the end of a long, stressful day with a 30-minute Pilates workout to feel refreshed and energised.