Pilates in St Albans with foam roller

As published on pilatestreemagazine.com

If you haven’t heard of Pilates, where have you been?!  Pilates is having its moment in the spotlight right now, with celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga extolling its virtues and who can forget Pippa Middleton’s Pilates bottom?

So what makes Pilates so great and why should you do it?

The thing that makes Pilates different from most other forms of exercise is that it is suitable for everyone.  Because all Pilates exercises can be modified, everyone is able to do them.  It is ideally suited to those who are recovering from injury or have specific health issues as it is a low impact form of exercise.  Pilates exercise will strengthen and tone the muscles, help develop core strength and improve posture.

Ten of the many benefits of Pilates include:

1.      Strengthens and tones muscles, helping to develop a strong core

Pilates uses your own body weight as resistance when working on the mat and the Pilates equipment adds resistance using springs.  The core muscles are the ones which keep us in good posture and support the back and the spine.  By developing strong core muscles, the muscles in the shoulders, neck and legs can relax more and all the muscles share the workload allowing for freer movement.

2.      Improves posture and corrects imbalances

Good posture is the result of a strong core and having good posture puts less strain on the body, joints and muscles.  Correcting any crookedness or imbalances by working the body evenly, Pilates exercise will straighten and strengthen the whole body.

3.      Often relieves or improves back pain and other aches and pains

By engaging the core muscles and teaching you breathing techniques, Pilates often relieves many aches and pains.

4.      Stabilises shoulders

In today’s world many of us are sat for several hours at a desk.  This can lead to rounded shoulders and forward head position.  This will be addressed in Pilates and exercises will improve the position and mobility of the shoulders.

5.      Improves joint mobility

The range of joint motion will increase as the supporting muscles are gradually lengthened and strengthened.

6.      Improves balance and co-ordination

Balance and co-ordination will improve as the body gets stronger and any unevenness within the body is slowly corrected.

7.      Increases flexibility

By stretching the muscles in a controlled way, they will be strengthened and lengthened enabling you to increase the range of motion for each joint.

8.      Promotes mindfulness

Joseph Pilates said his unique exercise method is “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” In Pilates each and every movement is carried out with full focus on the movement.  Exercising in this way means you get the maximum benefit from each exercise and the Pilates principles of centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow are the key concepts used to integrate body and mind.

9.      Increases energy levels

Using the breath and exercises together, Pilates stimulates the muscles and releases endorphins, making you feel great and energised.

10.  Improves circulation

Joseph Pilates believed that “every last atom of old air should be squeezed from the lungs” so that fresh, invigorating oxygen could flood the body by way of the circulatory system.  The breathing and exercises combine to help pump the oxygenated blood through the body and expelling the toxins.

If you would like to feel some of these benefits for yourself, why not try a class!