So What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. Typical Pilates workouts cover the whole body, giving you a feeling of wellbeing and easing postural pain by waking up dormant lazy muscles and easing out tension form overworked ones.

You can do Pilates with or without equipment, but no matter what you can expect the moves to involve slow, precise movements and breath control. Pilates will meet anybody’s needs to improve their movement in a graceful way, and at the same time make it extremely challenging by teaching proper postural alignment and muscle recruitment.

Pilates moves tend to target your core, although the exercises work other areas of your body as well. Although Pilates is specifically defined as exercise for the core or abdominal muscles, it is important to know that the core includes the entire trunk, which is the abdominals, the hips, the inner and outer thighs, and the entire back.  Once trunk stability is learnt, so exercises progress and become more functional. This makes it a full-body exercise method that will help your body in its everyday FUNCTIONAL activities. It strengthens and stabilizes your core body, which is your foundation, so that you can move efficiently while improving your posture, flexibility, and mobility.  Functional movement is the kind that helps you move better on a day-to-day basis while doing everyday tasks. A 2018 study of 90 people published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that participants who practiced Pilates for one hour three times a week for eight weeks improved their scores on a functional movement screen, which measures things like balance, stability, and mobility, more than people who did yoga instead (or who didn’t exercise at all).

Benefits of Regular Pilates

Muscle benefits include increased endurance, balanced length, increase in coordination of muscle groups.  One 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that people who did 1 hour of Pilates twice a week for 12 weeks reported significant increases in abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility, and upper-body muscular endurance. The researchers stated that the scapular stabilization cues throughout the moves (when you’re told to bring your shoulder blades together or down), combined with the increase in core strength and endurance, can translate to upper-body strength improvements and significant postural improvement as it encourages proper balanced postural alignment and control. Pilates incorporates a greater focus on building strength and stability in your core areas around your spine. It teaches trunk stability, which is so vital in postural balance and control. Indeed, my favourite Pilates method is called ‘Body Control’.

Pilates is all about mind-body connection and can be a great introduction to both physical and mental endurance. As with all exercise, Pilates has also been found to have a beneficial effect on mental health reducing symptoms of depressionanxiety, and fatigue, as well as increasing energy levels.

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