With new classes come new clients and a few people recently have been asking me how Pilates can benefit them, so here is a little recap for you….
(1) Mind & Focus & Clarity
Pilates exercises require you to use your brain! There’s body alignment to think about, muscles to focus on, limbs to move and breathing to perfect. It can take a while to get the hang of all of this but when you do it become relaxing and challenging all at the same time. Pilates movements are smooth, stretching, and flowing, leading to a relaxed body awareness and focused attention. The philosophy of pilates is to understand and accept your current capacities and slowly work towards improvement, rather than trying to force things. I find that focusing on feeling my muscles working and concentrating on my breathing really leaves me feeling like I’ve worked but I also feel refreshed and chilled.
(2) Spinal Stabilization
Pilates is particularly helpful to individuals with back pain or arthritis because it stabilizes and strengthens the muscles around the spine. Research shows that the transverse abdominus and multifidi muscles are involved in spinal stabilization. Following an injury, the spine can get out of alignment, either due to the injury itself or the person’s attempts to compensate by making postural changes. The deepest layer of transverse muscles in the abdomen wrap around the spine and help to stabilize it. Therefore strengthening these muscles can both prevent and diminish low back pain as well as improving posture and strength. Personally I’ve seen a lady with really hunched over shoulders and upper back (kyphosis) start to straighten out and have worked with lots of people with lower back pain who have seen significant improvements. It helped me all throughout my pregnancy and continues to help me now when I’m carrying a baby around.
(3) Core Strength
The core muscles are those in the back and abdomen. Pilates exercises strengthen these muscles, leading to better posture, better balance, flatter abs, and more resistance to injury. Over time you learn to use these muscles when doing day to day tasks. Becoming more aware of how to protect your spine and look after your body whilst moving, twisting and bending is key to preventing injuries. Many people hurt their back simply through bending over and picking up something in an unsafe way. Pilates will help build strength in your core and help teach you how to move using your core.
(4) Breathing and Relaxation
Pilates exercises require a focus on the breath as participants move with in and out breaths. This can be tricky to learn but so relaxing once you get it! Breathing may be lengthened to accommodate the movement, and awareness of breathing is enhanced. The combination of deep breathing and rhythmic stretching movements can lead to deep relaxation and stress relief.
(5) Fitness and Toning
Over time, when combined with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy eating plan Pilates will help you tone up your body and build your fitness up. I combine my Pilates sessions with running, walking, step aerobics and conditioning sessions where I do exercises such as squats, lunges, press ups and use weights. However I also like to vary things and so review what I am doing regularly and make changes to keep it interesting. My exercise has to fit around my baby, so its often involving her too.