This is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It is a body-conditioning program that targets the deep core muscles that support you. The technique was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German athlete who studied many different sports and developed his method and equipment to complement traditional training programs for athletes. Pilates is designed to build strength without bulk, as well as increase balance and flexibility. Like yoga, Pilates stresses the harmony between body and mind, but without the spiritual element. I find that Pilates is great way to get a leaner body. It can also improve your posture, as you are strengthening the muscles that hold you upright. Pilates has influenced and improved the way I perform every other activity, including walking!
Some of the benefits of Pilates include:
- Improved muscle tone
- Increased strength
- Improved posture
- Flatter stomach and leaner overall appearance
- Improved flexibility
- Diminished back pain
- Increased joint range of motion
- Lower stress levels
- Improved mind-body connection
- More evenly conditioned body
It is generally recommended that you learn Pilates from a trainer who will take you through a work-out on the apparatus, the mat or both. But, there are also some good videos available for those who prefer to try things at home before venturing to a studio or class at the gym. The great thing about Pilates is that it is a very gentle low-impact exercise system, yet still challenging and highly effective. Many exercises are performed in reclined or seated positions, and most are at least partially weight-bearing. Pilates also helps you become aware of where your body is in space, as the movements are flowing yet controlled. Another piece of the Pilates puzzle is that proper breathing technique is emphasized.