Pilates is the exercise of choice for dancers, gymnasts, and a host of famous Hollywood celebrities, and now it finds itself firmly entrenched in the mainstream. So why is Pilates so popular? Pilates’ incredible popularity can be traced to the fact that it provides its faithful practitioners with benefits that you simply can’t get through traditional aerobics/strength training format. So I have come up with a list of top 10 reasons why you may want to consider pilates as your exercise program of choice.
A Top 10 List of Reasons to Do Pilates
1. Pilates is Whole-Body Fitness
Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. While Pilates training focuses on core strength, it trains the body as an integrated whole. Pilates’ workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.
Attention to core support and full-body fitness provides a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere. Pilates also teaches you how to become efficient with your body. Very few exercises can help your body become more efficient in its movement. Being efficient means that your body moves in a way, that is smoother, safer, and less prone to injury. By practicing pilates on a regular basis, you can train your body more to move in a much safer and more efficient manner.
2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs
Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs.
As a result, the benefits of pilates have been particularly noted in older adults. Even adults undergoing serious rehabilitation therapy can use Pilates to increase their range of motion and overall muscle strength.
Consult your medical professional if you have any doubts about your pilates program. If you are suffering from severe degeneration or physical pain, you should take extra care before beginning a pilates program. You should never feel pain while practicing pilates. If you do, you know that there is something wrong. Don’t be afraid to pull back if you feel overwhelmed.
3. Creates Strength Without Bulk
Long, lean muscles without the bulk but with all of the strength are one of the main benefits of pilates. In Pilates, the goal is to build toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life.
Most conventional workouts tend to create bulky muscle. This is because in most workouts, the emphasis is placed on repetition and building strong muscles. This causes already-strong (or big) muscles to get even stronger, and thus bigger. Pilates does not rely on frequent repetition, and thus no overgrown muscles.
4. Increases Flexibility
Pilates works toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. You won’t find quite as much stretching in Pilates as you might in yoga, but a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a very realistic goal.
5. Develops Core Strength
The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all wish for. The proper breathing control that is stressed in pilates also helps contribute to the core strength
6. Improves Posture
Good posture is a reflection of good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Pilates increases the strength of the spinal stabilizing muscles that may not be commonly worked out in a standard exercise program. Strengthening these muscles allows you to have proper posture
7. Increases Energy
It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.
8. Promotes Weight Loss and Long, Lean Appearance
If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel very fit.
If you want to lose weight, the formula for weight loss remains the same: Burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates help will help you do that. Combined with aerobic activity, Pilates becomes a prime weight loss and body toning tool.
9. Increases Awareness – Body/Mind Connection
Another benefit of Pilates is that it engages the mind and enhances body awareness. Joseph H. Pilates studied yoga, martial arts, and other ancient mind-body activities and included a strong philosophical foundation into the practice of Pilates. He was adamant that Pilates, or contrology as he called it, was about “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” With Pilates exercises you are to practice each movement with total attention.
The smooth, precise and flowing movements of Pilates are designed to make you more mindful of your body. Breath movement is also emphasized to put you in touch with how breath moves through your body. Pilates has been demonstrated to reduce stress, anxiety, and helps lift depression. The mind-body connection is fundamental to the study and practice of pilates.
10. Prevents You from Future Injuries
Pilates strengthens your body and helps prevent future injuries. The fact that Pilates helps to condition the whole body and not just certain muscles helps to balance the muscle and strength of the body. Since no set of muscles is ever over or under trained, there is less risk for injury. The body becomes more fluid and supple, protecting against injury.
Other Benefits of Pilates
Create a stronger, more flexible spine.
Increase joint range of motion.
Heighten neuromuscular coordination.
Offer relief from back pain and joint stress.
Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury.
Enhance mobility, agility and stamina.
Compliment sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity.
Improve the way your body looks and feels.