With new fitness trends popping up every day, it can be tough to weed through it all and figure out what works and what doesn’t. But the core-strengthening benefits of Pilates have withstood the test of time, proving it a viable component of any well-rounded fitness and weight loss program.
So, what is Pilates exactly?
Introduced to the U.S. by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, it’s a form of exercise that emphasizes the connection between mind, body, and spirit while reducing the risk of injury through low-impact, fluid movements.
Looking a lot like yoga at first glance, Pilates is typically done on a mat using just your body weight and a few light props. Through a series of poses designed to build strength, increase flexibility, and improve balance and coordination, your average 45-minute Pilates session will engage your whole body while clearing your mind and decreasing your long-term potential for injury.
Who does it help?
Everyone! That’s one of the things that’s so great about it. Due to its low-impact nature, people of all ages and fitness levels can work the exercises and get down with the benefits. Because Pilates focuses primarily on alignment, breathing, and natural body movements.
Okay, but how does it help?
Tapping into natural movements we already do throughout the day—like pulling, pushing, lifting, twisting, and bending—Pilates incorporates exercises specifically designed to enhance our bodies by building upon the strength we need and use most. Using primarily gravity and your body weight as resistance, Pilates strengthen your whole body without the added stress and injury that so often accompany intense cardio and heavy weightlifting.
All that stretching and posing does wonders for your flexibility. Unlike yoga you won’t need to find yourself struggling into pretzel-like contortions. With Pilates, you will find a ton of the same improvements in your range of motion and overall capabilities. This is important not just for everyday ease and comfort, but the more flexible you are in general, the less prone to injury you’ll be in the future.
Your posture says a lot about your overall health. Poor posture is usually due to muscle tightness and imbalances. Pilates is a great antidote by stabilizing muscles critical to us standing tall. Improving our posture means avoiding a future of back pain and achy joints.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re stressed your breathing becomes irregular, sometimes pausing altogether? Turns out that has a huge effect on how we experience stress. Pilates calms our stressed spirits by combining movement with focused breathing. Paying attention to your breath each session is a practice that carries over into your everyday life, eventually helping you to remain calm during the most hectic situations.