Get Your Pilates on!
Want a fitness regimen that will strengthen your body evenly? Pilates may be just what you need. The physical fitness system is designed to strengthen, stretch, and balance the body. It couples certain exercises with concentrated breathing patterns and can be applied in professional sports training and physical rehabilitation.
What Is Pilates?
Pilates is a system of exercises that focuses on core strength to enhance general fitness and wellbeing. The exercises can be done on a mat or special equipment like the Wunda Chair, the Cadillac, and The Reformer. The machines have springs, pulleys, straps, and handles and can provide support or resistance, depending on your needs.
Pilates is based on 6 core principles: concentration, precision, control, centering, flow, and breath. It can help eliminate chronic pain or help treat injuries.
A History of Pilates
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century. He believed physical and mental health were closely related. He was born in Germany in 1883 and suffered from Asthma and other ailments as a child. Due to this, he turned to various exercise regimens to improve his health and became an avid boxer, diver, skier, and gymnast.
Because of his nationality, he was locked up during the war. He created a fitness program for his fellow inmates to help them maintain their health and fitness levels. During the influenza epidemic of 1918, not one prisoner died. Pilates always claimed that his fitness regimen was the reason why all the inmates survived.
In the 1920s, Pilates emigrated to the United States. He opened a studio in New York and started teaching his fitness system. His studio attracted New York’s cream of the crop. Renowned ballet dancers came to him because his exercises complemented and perfected their traditional exercise programs.
Famous actors and actresses, sportsmen, and the rich flocked to his studio to learn the workout that added strength without adding bulk, balanced flexibility with strength, and created harmony between body and mind.
Pilates remained relatively unknown until the 1990s but is now practiced worldwide, especially in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is taught in different forms and reflects the legacy of its founder.
Pilates never developed a formal training program and his students added changes to his core exercises and philosophy. One of the most popular adaptations is Club Pilates which focuses on bringing Pilates to all people. Club Pilates provides quality sessions at a low cost. The flexible approach of Pilates is one reason why the fitness regimen has been so successful.
Benefits of Pilates
Gives You a Balanced Body
Pilates helps balance your body. It not only strengthens your body, it strengthens your mind. All of the principles of Pilates force you to use your brain power in order to master each exercise. The fitness technique has a positive impact on your mental state as it makes you feel more centered and in control physically. When your mind and body are strong and healthy, you feel more focused and stimulated mentally.
Conditions the Whole Body
Many traditional workouts work the same muscles. As a result, strong muscles become stronger and weak muscles weaker. Pilates works the whole body, even the feet and ankles. You’ll be able to perform daily activities or sports more easily. That’s why it’s loved by many sportspersons.
Helps You Learn How to Control Your Body
Pilates emphasizes proper spinal and pelvic alignment, correct breathing, and smooth movement, helping you to get in tune with your body. It helps you learn how to control your body’s movements. You learn how to breathe properly and how to perform exercises with great efficiency and power.
This exercise helps flatten your tummy. Fold your legs and put your arms behind your knees. Tuck in your stomach and curl down on the floor. Bend your shoulders and head slightly as you press your lower back on the floor. Drive the arms up and down in small movements at your side. Breathe in for 5 and out for 5 till you get to 50. Sit up then repeat the exercise till you hit 100.
As you work on your abs, you must also work on the lower back. Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and part your feet slightly (hip-width). Place your hands on your sides and lift your hips without curving your back. Tighten your hamstrings’ and buttocks’ muscles and count till five (count slowly). Lower your body then repeat the exercise 4 times.
This exercise helps tone your upper back. Lie facing down on a mat and put your feet together. Raise your head and chest a little and extend your arms sideways, with the palms facing down. Exhale and push the arms back as you raise your chin and chest higher – your waist should not leave the mat. Move your arms nearer to your body using your upper back muscles. Do five reps.
Kneeling Side Kicks
Kneeling side kicks tone your lower body without a reformer. Kneel with the left leg and lean to the left, place your right hand behind your head and the left hand on the mat. Lift your right leg until it’s straight. Steady your torso and kick the leg to the front then to the back, keeping the knee straight. Repeat 5 times then work on the other leg.
This upper-body exercise gets its name from Fourth of July Sparklers. If you have hand weights, use them. Twirl them like Fourth of July sparklers. While standing, hold one weight with each hand, turn them to face each other and make 8 circles. Go higher with each circle until your hands are overhead. As you lower your arms, make 8 circles in the opposite direction. Repeat 3 times.
Pilates boosts endurance and doesn’t just tone the muscles. With hand weights in your hands, stand against a wall and place your feet slightly apart. Gradually walk your feet out and bend the knees, as if you are sitting in a chair. Your upper legs should be straight. Raise your arms up to shoulder level and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat twice.
If you suffer from chronic pain or have an injury, try Pilates. It will help you to build core strength and long lean muscles in a short time period. Many people have benefited from Joseph Pilates’ physical fitness system and have changed their lives forever.
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.