Pilates may be perceived to be a low impact form of exercise, however it actually challenges your body in a way that other forms of workouts can’t. It works the entire body and with a focus on using correct form, activating muscles in the body that you may not have targeted before. The principles of pilates can be applied outside the pilates studio and improve performance in other areas of fitness too. Pilates really does work and here’s why:
Strengthens the body in a safe way
Exercises performed in a mat pilates class require you to use your body weight. Some resistance such as circles, balls and bands may also be incorporated to provide more variation. This is great for beginners or those overcoming injury, however it can also challenge experienced gym goers in a new way. In a pilates session, rather than just performing movements, there is a focus on isolating and correctly activating muscles with precision and in a controlled way. Modifications of the exercises are provided, including challenging options so that participants are encouraged to work within their limits. Detailed explanations and cues of how to perform exercises as well as the breathing patterns are provided to ensure every repetition is maximised. These principles can also be applied outside of the pilates class and will also help to complete movements performed every day such as sitting up, bending down and standing up.
Lengthens and tones the muscles without bulking
Exercises performed in pilates require you to use a full range of motion, strengthening and stretching, creating long, lean and toned muscles. This is particularly beneficial for those looking to increase muscle definition without bulking, which is normally achieved when lifting weights. Incorporating pilates regularly as part of your weekly exercise programme will transform your body shape from losing centimetres off your waist, toning your legs and arms as well as helping you to stand taller.
Develops core strength
The main muscles that are targeted in pilates are the core stabilising muscles – the abdominal region. No matter what the primary muscle group the exercise is working, there is a focus on constantly activating the core, throughout each movement – Not just core specific exercises. Pilates teaches you how to correctly activate these muscles while performing exercises. Rather than focuses on quantity, pilates focuses on quality so each repetition is amplified. You will feel your core muscles working. Over time this will help to achieve a flatter tummy and you will also feel it easier to perform other everyday movements such as sitting up, lifting and balancing.
Pilates helps to improve posture through strengthening the postural muscles and correcting any muscle imbalances. Your internal and external obliques (the muscles that form your waist along the sides of your abdomen) are exercised as well as your transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscles which supports your back and holds in your belly. Exercising the muscles that make up the core is key to a good posture, a healthy back, flat tummy and overall will help you to stand taller.
Better balance and coordination
Strengthening the core stabilising muscles will lead to improved balance. Although this is particularly important for older adults, the skills taught can benefit everyone –even t enhance performance for athletes. By practicing pilates regularly, you may begin to notice improvements in the way you climb up the stairs, lift, reach and bend which are just some of the ways which can help prevent injury.
Helps you sleep better
Every pilates exercise involves a breathing patterns which increases the effectiveness of that exercise. Practising deep breathing patterns will not only help supply oxygen to the muscles, it has also been shown to reduce stress and blood pressure which will promote a better night’s sleep.
Like all physical activities, Pilates too will release endorphins and cause a positive feeling in the body. In addition to this, the overarching benefits experienced through the practice of pilates already discussed – such as improved sleep, physique and posture will give you more energy in the day. For some, a healthier physique may lead to improved confidence and more self-esteem, a better posture will help you to walk, while improved sleep will give you more energy to function at your best during the day.
Adaptable for all levels
You will be encouraged to activate particular muscle groups throughout the class and challenge your body in a unique way. When exercises are demonstrated throughout the class it will normally start off with the easiest option first then gradually build up to the more challenge adaption of the exercise. This is so the class can cater to all levels of fitness from beginners to vey experienced. It is encouraged to work within your limits and choose the exercise option that is right for you.
It is recommended to practice pilates regularly in order to experience the long-term benefits and ensure gains in strength and flexibility continue to progress. For more information on Everybody Active pilates sessions.