There are Many Reasons to Join a Pilates Studio

Estimated Time to Read: 4 minutes

Exercise fads come and go.  From Zumba to kettle bells and CrossFit, the trends rise and fall.  Pilates, however, has stood the test of time as a reliable exercise program that gets results.  There are many great reasons why you should visit a Pilates studio.

History

Pilates is named for its creator, German-born Joseph Pilates.  His father was a gymnast and his mother was a naturopath, so he was, from birth, witness to the benefits of physical and mental health.  Joseph himself, however, was not blessed with the good health of his parents.  Suffering from a variety of ailments such as asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, he vowed to improve his health.  His tenancy paid off. By the time he was in his early teens, he was fit enough to model for anatomy charts.  Later in life, he worked as a circus performer and took up boxing.  During WWI, he was placed internment camp in England. It was here Joseph developed the Pilates system we know today as he created movements help rehabilitate his fellow soldiers.  In essence, the internment camp was the first Pilates studio.

Pilates Philosophy

Pilates are a series of deep movements that activate the core muscles and build strength.  The graceful, fluid movements improve both body and mind.

The philosophy of Pilates is this: since all movements centre on your core, or as it is called in the Pilates studio, “the powerhouse”, this area must be stabilized and strengthened.  The movements and deep breathes work your powerhouse intensely.  The movements also work several muscle groups at a time, which increases the effectives of the workout over a shorter period of time (compared to many other exercises).

The Six Principals

There are many different movements and positions in Pilates, but they all center on six principals. Your Pilates studio should be familiar with these principals.

1.    Concentration:  One must focus to move in and out of the positions.  Training your mind to concentrate has benefits far beyond exercise.  Concentration can be used to improve your life in all aspects.

2.    Breath: The breathing patterns in Pilates are very precise.  Typically, you will exhale on contraction and inhale on release.  These deep breaths help to support and strengthen your core.  Deep breathing is also a known relaxation technique and something that is encouraged to combat the onset of anxiety or panic attacks.

3.    Centering: Pilates focuses on the core, your “physical center”.  Finding your center also relates to accessing your inner strength for physical and mental improvement.

4.    Control:  The positions and movements of Pilates must be done in a controlled manner.  It is not sloppy, haphazard or rushed.  Mastering control of your movements will improve your grace, posture and carriage.

5.    Precision: Precision ties into control.  The movements of the hands, the placement of the feet, the way you hold your body – in Pilates, you must be precise to reap the full benefit of the movements.

6.    Flow: The transitions from one position to the next are very smooth.  These transitional movements work the body while increasing grace and agility.

Is Pilates Similar to Yoga?

On the surface, Yoga and Pilates may seem similar.  Both involve deep stretches, fluid movements, controlled breathing and precise positions.  However, they are very different.  In Yoga, the movements are a very small part of an overall belief system.  Yoga is closely tied to spiritual aspects.  Much of the Yoga seen in Western cultures has been adapted for American/Canadian use and focuses mostly on fitness with some meditation.  The styles and levels of Yoga will differ among fitness centres.  True Yoga is a multi-faceted discipline to which some devote years of study.  Pilates, on the other hand, was conceived purely as tool for fitness and mental health.  There are no spiritual beliefs attached to it and no chanting or mantras going on in Pilates studios.  Additionally, Pilates’ focus on the powerhouse is not seen in Yoga.

Why You Should Check Out a Pilates Studio

For some, the thought of jumping, running, and lifting heavy weights is very unappealing.  Others may have injuries that prevent impact or heavy load-bearing exercises.  In those cases, Pilates is an excellent alternative.  The fluid moments add an element of cardio, the body or simple tools/machines are used to deepen the movements and provide resistance and the focus on the powerhouse promotes strong core and muscle strength.  Another reason some choose to visit a Pilates studio is to add to their current workout.  The many benefits of Pilates work well in tandem with everything from power-lifting to ballet.

Pilates is suitable for men, women and youth, making it a healthy activity the whole family can enjoy.

What are you Waiting for?

If you have yet to experience all that a Pilates studio has to offer, why not check out one this week?  For the exercise-committed, you just may find a new way to work your body.  For those hesitant to start a workout regime, you’ll likely love the slower paced yet very effective movements of Pilates.  For anyone with an injury or limited range of motion, Pilates was designed especially for you. There is literally no excuse!  Visit a Pilates studio today.

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