THIS POST HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT PILATES IS AND WHAT PILATES PRACTICE IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
Developed by Joseph Pilates more than 80 years ago, Pilates is an exercise system that strengthens muscles, increases flexibility and improves overall health. By focusing on breathing, proper form and efficient movement patterns, Pilates strengthens the core, improves balance, increases coordination and decreases stress. Pilates is a method of exercising the body in a balanced fashion. It’s a total body conditioning form of exercise that uses correct alignment, precision, breathing, focus, control, flowing movement and centering to achieve perfect movement.
Despite this set of central themes, Pilates can be taught very differently from studio to studio. It’s vital that you understand the method of the studio you are planning to visit. A classical studio will focus on the original teachings of Joseph Pilates. More modern studios will use updated fitness and training techniques and center exercises around the neutral spine position. Make sure that the studio you are visiting only employs instructors with certifications from schools such as STOTT, BASI or POLESTAR. There are other schools but it’s important to know where an instructor has received their training. Of course I may be biased but at LUFT we offer the very best Pilates can offer focusing on modern teaching techniques with instructors who receive a minimum of one year of training at an accredited Pilates school.
Pilates is a complex and challenging form of movement. Full mind-body concentration and focus is needed and you’ll work hard from your fingertips to your toes! One of the major stress-reducing aspects of Pilates is the level of focus it demands. During your session, all outside thoughts and stresses are set aside as you focus only yourself and your movements.
Pilates can be an aerobic and non-aerobic form of exercise, depending on what you are looking for from a class. It could be rehabilitative, restorative or goal-oriented, like training for a triathlon. Each exercise has a prescribed placement, rhythm and breathing pattern that can vary depending on where your instructor has studied. Your muscles are never worked to extreme exhaustion. The focus should be on form, not fatigue.
Pilates is popular as a fitness-based activity, but also as rehabilitation. The focus on strengthening the core and aligning the body helps to alleviate many aches and pains throughout the body including the back, neck and shoulders.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PILATES?
Clients as young as 12 to 90+ can enjoy the benefits of Pilates as it is highly customizable to suit a range of fitness levels. Most clients practice Pilates only as classes can be varied using different props and equipment pieces. However, Pilates is also an amazing strength builder and cross-training option for athletes, runners, yogis, golfer, tennis players and more. Some of the benefits include:
• Longer, leaner muscles with less bulk.
• Increased muscle strength and tone
• Increased core strength
• Improved coordination and balance
• Injury prevention and back pain reduction.
• Relief of tension and stress, especially in shoulders, neck and the mid-back.
• Excellent cross-fit training for athletes.
• Effective exercises for pre- and post-natal women.
WHO SHOULD DO PILATES?
Everyone. Our clients range from 12 to 80+ years old. Athletes, tennis players, golfers, yogis, pre and post-natal women, office professionals and dancers can all benefit from Pilates. Pilates helps rebalance muscles around the spine in a safe and supportive way - even people dealing with pain or post-surgical issues can enjoy.
PRIVATE SESSIONS VERSUS GROUP CLASSES:
Private sessions are extremely important, particularly if you are recovering from a recent injury, are pregnant or are dealing with acute health issues. It's also important to note that working with a private instructor is different than working with a personal trainer. A certified Pilates instructor is highly trained to support the body through the process of healing and maximizing its strength.
HOW IS PILATES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FORMS OF EXERCISE?
Pilates is challenging and it becomes harder the more you practice. It is a perfect mind/body exercise and a great way to get to know your body, while moving with control and perfection. The first few sessions can get a bit overwhelming and I hear lots of clients say: “There is so much to remember”! Like with everything the more you practice the better you get.
But why does it get harder? It’s because you can focus more, you understand the moves better and you learn not to rush through the exercises. You will be amazed to learn what your body can do.
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK DO YOU RECOMMEND I ATTEND CLASS?
We recommend 2 to 3 times a week to see and feel optimal results. However, Pilates can be practiced daily to keep the body centered and aligned. Even a few mat exercises at home in between visits to the studio can help you reconnect with your body and to alleviate tension and stress.
WHAT KIND OF RESULTS CAN BE EXPECTED WHEN PRACTICING PILATES?
"You will feel better in 10 sessions, look better in 20 sessions, and have a completely new body in 30 sessions." - Joseph H. Pilates
You will see results fast! Pilates won't get you big, bulky muscles but rather develops a long, lean and toned figure. Other results include improved posture, increased strength, improved circulation and a balanced physical and mental sense of well-being. Pilates is designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and to rebalance the muscles around the joints, with emphasis on scapular stabilization. By strengthening the core muscles, the pelvis and spine are also stabilized, leading to improved balance and coordination. Once the results begin to show, you may find Pilates can be very addictive!
WILL PILATES HELP ME WITH MY BACK PAIN?
Absolutely. Pilates, when practiced with a certified Pilates instructor in a private setting, can help develop the muscles that support the spine and lead to a pain-free life. We highly encourage anyone with back pain to invest in private sessions over group classes. Once a client understands how to properly engage the right muscles and can move safely in a group class additional classes can be added.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAT AND REFORMER PILATES?
Mat Pilates uses your own body weight and can incorporate small props like a ball, stretch band or magic circle. Reformer Pilates uses equipment like the Reformer. Private Pilates sessions also include the Chair, Cadillac or Ladder Barrel together with the Reformer. The resistance of the springs can make exercises easier or harder depending on the amount of springs and resistance.
WILL PILATES HELP ME WITH MY POOR POSTURE?
Absolutely. Pilates is designed to strengthen, stretch and align muscles around the spine and the core. We also open and stretch the shoulders, chest, upper back and thoracic spine which will give immediate relief to the tightness frequently experienced by those with poor posture. Within just a few sessions you will feel more aligned, strong and have newfound mobility.
IS PILATES FOR MEN?
Yes! As a matter of fact, Pilates was invented by a man (Joseph Pilates) who was an athlete and boxer. He worked with dancers and performers as well as injured soldiers during the Second World War. Men will see great benefits from practicing Pilates and notice a change in posture, flexibility, mobility as well as overall strength and athleticism.