Piloting Your Way Through Pilates
Looking For A Workout That Will Keep Your Mind Occupied While Whipping You Into Shape? Pilates Is The Workout For You
Started in the early 1920's by a German nutritionist named Joseph Pilates, this core strengthening exercise has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the fastest growing trend in fitness.
The focus of the exercise as outlined by its founder, is to control the muscles with the power of the mind.
Pilates works through a series of exercises using primarily the weight and resistance of one's own body. The legs are used to strengthen the abs, the arms are used to sustain the back, and so on.
The alignment of the spine plays a key role in this exercise trend, along with full awareness of breath. Concentration and focus are absolutely essential to being successful in this structured workout
As Joseph Pilates believed, using this we can create a total fusion of body and mind that once mastered, will allow you to move the body with grace and ease, without having to engage the mind.
There are six fundamental Pilates principles:
There are books and websites dedicated to the further explanation and understanding of these principles, which anyone committed to truly understand Pilates may want to explore.
Each muscle group in the body is connected through a series of other muscles, and is used in conjunction to optimize the function of each group. Once alignment of posture is achieved, the pelvis, ribcage, hips, and shoulders will follow suit.
Like yoga, breathing is a central focus of this exercise. However, while yoga focuses on long, slow breathes, Pilates teaches that forced exhalation provides a more complete benefit.
For instance, squeezing the air out of the lungs like a wet towel will charge your lungs to perform to their full capacity. The founder's belief was that even if no other practices were executed correctly, learning to breathe was the most essential.
There is a certain terminology you may encounter in your classes that will be new to you. Terms such as flexion, concentric, lumbar, prone, sacrum, and powerhouse are used to help you understand the muscles you are working, and exactly how to move them.
Feel free to ask your instructor if there is a term you don't understand. You are learning a new language along with a new way of moving.
There are certain pieces of equipment that can be used to maximize your workout. For example, the "Cadillac" or Trapeze Table, the Wundu Chair, the Ladder Barrel, and the Arm Chair, among many others.
Using these with the help of an experienced instructor is recommended, as more harm than help can be done if used incorrectly. Used correctly, these tools can enhance a workout's benefits and enjoyment.
Fitted, stretchy clothing is recommended for exercise, shoes discouraged. Make sure you are comfortable, and can move your arms and legs easily in every direction.
Classes can be found commonly in local gyms, as well as in private studios. Private instructors can even come to your home to give you a personalized workout.
DVD's are another popular way to use this workout in the comfort of your living room. These can be just as effective as a classroom setting, given the proper heed to breathing techniques.
Pregnant women will find this a very comfortable and helpful way to stay in shape, while saving the baby from unneeded stress. It can help strengthen the muscles used to carry the baby, help you deliver, and get you back in shape after giving birth.
There are even benefits to the baby, as your body takes in extra oxygen, and relieves stress hormones such as Cortisol. This allows more nutrients to flow to your baby.
There are many celebrity Pilates lovers, including Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Minnie Driver, and Vanessa Williams. Used by famous athletes as well, it can have benefits that you may not even realize.
Some athletes have even described Pilates as a secret workout used to enhance their performance in particular sports. For instance, there are workout DVD's that target a tailor-made workout for those who enjoy golf, tennis, swimming, basketball, baseball, etc.
Whether you are seeking flexibility, muscle tone, or core strength, Pilates can meet your needs and even be fun in the process. So grab your stretchy pants, get out there, and explore the fastest growing exercise trend!
About the Author
Tom Selwick has worked in the health industry for years. He recommends using the right treadmills for becoming a healthier you.