I just returned from an excellent training weekend for a Pilates Mat Certification. Two 10-hour days filled with practice and drills, followed by more practice more and drills was both mentally and physically exhausting and it was worth every minute!
I discovered Pilates last fall when I was looking for a noontime class that wouldn’t leave me a hot, sweaty mess for returning to work. And after years of countless crunches and ab work I finally found something that helped to reduce my midsection.
Pilates seeks to increase the strength and flexibility of the body through controlled breathing and movements.
If you have not tried Pilates here I’d like to share with you some reasons you may want to consider it:
- Body awareness and control: each Pilates move has a very specific purpose. As you become familiar with the exercises you increases awareness of the mind/body connection. As you become aware of the muscles used for the movements you learn how to best control your body for maximized results.
- Increased core strength: throughout the Pilates routine you are reminded to keep your navel buttoned up to your spine. Once you become accustomed to engaging your core during the exercises it begins to become natural to “button up” during every day activities.
- Adaptable to fitness levels and needs: regardless of age, gender, fitness level or size you can participate in Pilates. Almost every exercise that has a modification for special considerations. There aren’t a whole lot of exercise programs out there that offer this wide of accessibility to participants. Pilates is a gentle conditioning for those new to a fitness program and an increasing challenge to the physically fit.
- Creates strength without bulk: so many women avoid strength training because of the fear of “bulking up.” Pilates is an excellent way to build strength with natural body resistance. (As a side note, lifting weights does not mean you will bulk up – it is possible to build long lean muscles with strength training.)
- Increases flexibility: as we age we lose flexibility. Pilates movements help to increase range of motion and as a result increases flexibility – something we all can use.
- Improves posture and a lean appearance: the Pilates stance promotes a lengthening of your body. You learn to pull your shoulders down and away from your ears and to pull them back. Drawing your navel up and into your spine helps to support your lower back. Just those things alone improve will help you to stand taller, appear more confident and lean all at the same time.
I encourage you to find a Pilates class near you and to give it a try. If you like it half as much as me you will be hooked!
Note: My experience with Pilates is limited to Mat work but there are also a number of specialized pieces of equipment that can be used for Pilates exercises.