We’ve all heard our friends boasting about how they “crushed it in Pilates yesterday”, or how they’re “sore after that killer Pilates session”. But what the heck are Pilates? Are they an active type of exercise like resistance training, or are they a more sedentary form of exercise like Yoga?
The answer: both!
Pilates is a total body conditioning method of exercise. It was a method developed by Josef Pilates over 70 years ago in Germany. Pilates came to New York City in 1926 and started teaching it to athletes and dancers. His exercises were originally called “Contrology”.
Pilates is an exercise that consists of controlled movements, which is to strengthen your core. The core refers to the muscles deep within the abs and back, attaching to the spine or pelvis.
Like Yoga, you use a mat to perform the exercises, though there is other equipment used for the workouts. Many of the Pilates exercises are similar to Yoga exercises, though there are many movements unique to Pilates. Breathing is an important part of Pilates. When you take notice of your breathing, you properly inhale and exhale to maintain control over mind and body movements.
There are many amazing benefits of doing Pilates workouts:
- Weight loss — Pilates pushes your muscles to the limits of their endurance, helping you to build lean muscle. The more muscle you build, the more fat you will burn on a daily basis. Your body will begin to lose weight and restructure as more muscles are gained from taking the time to practice.
- Enhanced spinal mobility — As with Yoga, many of the Pilates movements focus on twisting and turning your spine. This will help to enhance the mobility of your spine, increasing the flexibility of the spinal erector muscles. The result will be a much lower risk of back problems during your daily activities. For those with lower back pain, Pilates can be a form of physical therapy to help you deal with the spinal issues.
- Better posture — With each movement, you have to focus on the posture of your head, neck, spine, arms, legs, and core. You will become more aware of your posture and the way you stand, sit, and lie down. As a result of the training, your posture and carriage will improve.
- More endurance — The Pilates movements don’t cause you to build solid muscle mass, but instead they focus on enhancing your muscular endurance. You hold certain poses for long periods of time, during which your muscles remain contracted to hold you stable. This leads to better muscular endurance, which translates to better stamina in many sports and daily activities.
- Better core strength and engagement — Most of the Pilates workouts involve a lot of core work. The abs, back, and sides may not be the primary focus of the movements, but they are engaged. This leads to better core strength, as well as more efficient engagement of the muscles with every workout.
- Enhanced flexibility — Pilates training is similar to Yoga training in that it helps to enhance the flexibility of your limbs and joints. You’ll have a better range of motion after a few months of regular training, and you’ll find that your movements will be more natural and easier on your skeletomuscular structure.
- Boosted metabolism — Regular exercise will help your body to produce more energy on a daily basis, leading to better calorie burning even on the days when you don’t train. The Pilates workouts will give your metabolism a boost that will help you to lose weight more easily.
Even though Pilates is not an aerobic workout, it could be a big part of your weight loss goals. By combining a balanced diet with regular practices, you will begin to see a change in your mood as well as your body.
To see results of weight loss quicker, it’s important to lead an active lifestyle. This could include walking, running, or another exercise class. By increasing your daily activity your metabolism your body will begin to burn more body fat to give you the weight loss you are looking for.