What is Pilates?

Pilates is a body conditioning routine that seeks to build flexibility, strength, endurance, and coordination without adding muscle bulk. Pilates increases circulation and helps to sculpt the body and strengthen the body’s . People who do pilates regularly feel they have better posture, are less prone to injury, and experience better overall health.

A bit of history

Joseph H. Pilates, the founder of the pilates exercise method, was born in Germany. As a child he was frail, living with asthma in addition to other childhood conditions. To build his body and grow stronger, he took up several different sports, eventually becoming an accomplished athlete. As a nurse in Great Britain during World War I, he designed exercise methods and equipment for immobilized patients and soldiers. In addition to his equipment, Pilates developed a series of mat exercises that focus on the torso. He based these on various exercise methods from around the world, among them the mind-body formats of yoga and Chinese martial arts.

Joseph Pilates believed that our physical and mental health are intertwined. He designed his exercise program around principles that support this philosophy, including There are two ways to exercise in pilates. Today, most people focus on the mat exercises, which require only a floor mat and training. These exercises are designed so that your body uses its own weight as resistance. The other method of pilates uses a variety of machines to tone and strengthen the body, again using the principle of resistance.concentration, precision, control, breathing, and flowing movements.

Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.

After his release, Joe returned to Germany. His exercise method gained favor in the dance community, primarily through Rudolf von Laban, who created the form of dance notation most widely used today. Hanya Holm adopted many of Joe’s exercises for her modern dance curriculum, and they are still part of the “Holm Technique.” When German officials asked Joe to teach his fitness system to the army, he decided to leave Germany for good.

The Benefits of Pilates

  • A refreshing mind-body workout

Pilates gets your mind in tune with your body. By emphasizing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and complete concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely aware of how your body feels, where it is in space, and how to control its movement. The quality of movement is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential, and helps you execute movements with maximum power and efficiency. Last but not least, learning to breathe properly can reduce stress.

  • Build strength without “bulking up” – gain long, lean muscles and flexibility

Conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles – the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.

  • Develop a strong core – flat abdominals and a strong back

Pilates exercises develop a strong “core,” or center of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.

  • Create an evenly conditioned body and prevent sports injuries

In conventional workouts, weak muscles tend to get weaker and strong muscles tend to get stronger. The result is muscular imbalance – a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body, even the ankles and feet. No muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease and less chance of injury.

  • Learn efficient patterns of motion

Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your body to move in safer, more efficient patterns of motion – invaluable for injury recovery, sports performance, good posture and optimal health.

  • Be confident and safe

No other exercise system is so gentle to your body while giving it a challenging workout. Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe, it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries.

  • And be challenged

Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.

Pilates dramatically transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen.

It teaches body awareness, good posture and easy, graceful movement. Pilates improves flexibility, agility and economy of motion. It can even help alleviate back pain.

Professional dancers have known the benefits of Pilates for decades. Top athletes use it for strength, flexibility, and injury prevention. Hollywood celebrities and supermodels use it to maintain beautiful physiques.

Will Pilates help with weight loss?

There are no studies to prove that Pilates contributes to weight loss. The bottom line to weight loss is that you must consume fewer calories than you burn no matter how much exercise you do. Even if you run a marathon every day you, will not lose weight if you consume more calories than you burn. Now, if you practice Pilates, or any other exercise for that matter, then you do burn calories, and that helps. There is also the potential for a positive interaction between exercise and your calorie intake where you ask yourself, Why eat more if I’m doing all this exercise and I want to lose weight? You might lose weight if you start thinking like that. Interestingly, calorie expenditure during six different Pilates mat exercises has been carefully studied. The researchers found that on average, a 165-pound person burned 480 calories per hour during an advanced Pilates workout (comparable to walking 4.5 miles per hour), 390 calories per hour during an intermediate workout (comparable to basic stepping), and 276 calories per hour during a basic workout (comparable to moderate stretching). But the calories burned varied for each individual, leading the investigators to conclude that “Pilates mat workouts vary widely in energy cost depending on both the skill level/intensity of the workout and the particular exercise movement being performed. The advanced and intermediate workouts tested in this study appear to be of sufficient intensity to provide apparently healthy adult participants with health-fitness benefits.”


Sources: Pilates , Web MD


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