Pilates is a unique method of body control and conditioning – stretching and strengthening the muscles, at the same time improving your flexibility and balance. Pilates aims to achieve core body stability and improve posture.
Pilates is an exercise programme developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1920’s with an emphasis on mental-physical aspects, combining the science of mental focus and breathing techniques derived from Chinese martial arts and yoga with modern western sports science and fitness movements. Although Yoga and Pilates are similar in their ‘mind-body’ emphasis, Pilates does not however have a spiritual component attached to it.
Key Principles of Pilates
The key principles that guide Pilates workout includes breathing, mental concentration, centering, control, flow and rhythm, precision and relaxation – all of which work together in tandem and when properly applied, produce positive physiological and psychological health benefits.
Pilates exercise movements, performed with or without the use of resistance equipment are usually slow in their movements in terms of control and form. The exercises prescribed in Pilates aim to strengthen the core muscles of the body that provide support to the spine and that keep your body balanced.
Although Pilates is not specifically targeted to work on your body’s flexibility, it does incorporate elements of flexibility in it’s exercise regimen. The increase in flexibility in individual body segments are primarily gained from the ballistic movements that are used to increase strength.
Benefits of Pilates
Pilates workout routines are mainly gentle and low-impact and mainly aim to strengthen the back and spine. If you are one of those people who do not want to beef up your body with muscles, then with the help of Pilates, you can expect to increase their strength and general toning of core muscles without developing much muscle bulk. Learning proper breathing and performing, or relearning correct spinal and pelvic alignment can help you gain more kinaesthetic awareness of your body.
Pilates workouts can be customized to suit beginners as well as those with varying levels of competency, starting with the fundamentals before moving on to mat work. It is important that beginners engage at an individual comfort level and seek proper instruction and supervision.
- Obese individuals must consult their doctor or physiotherapist before starting a training programme.
- An air-conditioned training environment is ideal. No activities will be undertaken in direct sunlight or in hot environments.
- Older adults must agree to undergo a history and physical examination directed at identifying cardiac risk factors, exertional signs/symptoms, and physical limitations.
- Wear comfortable shoes and loose cotton clothes, and drink sufficient fluid before, during and after exercise.
- Asthma sufferers should consult a doctor and undergo a physical examination where necessary to find out what types of activities are appropriate, identify exercise limitations and what to do to prevent an episode during exercise.