The power of Pilates

Fitness team

Pilates is a unique method of exercising developed from the 1920's by the legendary physical trainer Joseph H. Pilates. It combines both western and eastern philosophies to teach you about breathing with movement, body mechanics, balance, co-ordination, posture, spatial awareness, as well as strength and flexibility.

It’s not about high repetitions or heavy strain. It's a fitness regimen that combines stretching and strengthening exercise routines designed to work the entire body efficiently, in natural and fluid dance-like movements.

Joseph Pilates pioneered his fitness philosophy in order to overcome his own disabilities, combining elements of yoga, controlled breathing, weight training and gymnastics to bring the body into proper alignment. He believed that most of us have imbalanced bodies because we tend to overdevelop the stronger muscle groups, which ultimately leads to poor posture and spinal misalignment. His goal was to create and maintain a structurally fit body.

Conventional workouts tend to concentrate on the same muscle groups, which can lead to tension and injury. Pilates focuses on strenghtening the muscles in the deeper abdomen, torso, and spine to prevent injury.

Pilates is performed alternately on floor mats and a device called a Universal Reformer, a spring controlled bed-like frame. A variety of fluid movements are performed on "the rack," coupled with gentle resistance while the body is properly supported and aligned. Even the smallest muscle groups are isolated and worked so efficiently that a little goes a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions (from Pilates.co.uk)

· What is the best way to get started in the Pilates Method?

There are many ways you can get started. There are plenty of books and videos on the market. Check out pilates.co.uk to find an instructor or class in your area.

· Why should I practice the Pilates Method?

The method of exercise offers a non-stress approach to better posture and stronger, leaner muscles. It complements aerobic exercises and can be used to help you recover after injury.

· What kind of benefits can I expect from practising Pilates?

The low-impact technique is designed to improve posture and strengthen and lengthen muscles without adding bulk. An emphasis on breathing leaves clients feeling revitalized, not exhausted.

· How often a week should I practise the Pilates Method?

For optimal effectiveness, it is recommended two to three times per week depending on your goals and level of fitness, especially if not participating in any other forms of exercise.

· Can I lose weight with Pilates?

It is suggested that prospective clients undertake nutritional advice from a qualified practitioner prior to commencing Pilates. At its advanced level Pilates does provide an aerobic/cardiovascular workout to help lose weight.

· Can I use Pilates for general fitness training?

Yes, because when Pilates is practised on a regular basis, it encompasses all aspects of fitness, such as strength, flexibility, co-ordination, cardiovascular, motor skills and relaxation.

· Is it safe to practise Pilates when pregnant?

It is recommended that you consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise programme, and prospective clients should seek a Pilates instructor with ante natal/post natal qualifications. Care should be taken, with constant communication and feedback between every pregnant client and instructor.

· Does the Pilates fitness program help to reduce the hips and thighs?

Yes! and it helps with the rest of the body as well. Designed to work the body as a whole you will not only see benefits in the hips and thighs but also in the rest of the body as well.

· I am 50 years of age, do you think the Pilates program will be too strenuous for me?

No! Pilates caters for everyone from beginners to advanced conditioning and is suitable for all age groups. As with any exercise programme, start on the beginner levels, progress slowly and listen to your body. It won't happen overnight, but results will happen.

· How different is Pilates from yoga?

Although similar to yoga exercise, Pilates requires you to set a posture and then challenge the torso by moving the limbs, whereas yoga will move from one static posture to another with no repetitions.

· Does Pilates concentrate on breathing?

All Pilates exercises are taught with a breath sequence, but it isn't the main emphasis of the technique.

· Does Pilates help you become more flexible?

Yes! Pilates will strengthen and stretch your body at the same time, slowly building up a range of movement as you become more advanced.

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