It seems that the word “Pilates” is popping up more and more in the world of fitness and wellbeing. If you’re curious and want to learn more about the phenomenon taking over the fitness world, then this guide is for you!
Some of us may be familiar with Pilates, whereas others may be absolutely puzzled as to what it is, how it’s practiced and what the benefits are. To put it into simple terms, Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise which aims to strengthen the body, with focus on improving core strength and postural alignment.
Right, let’s break down what Pilates is some more and look at how you can introduce it into your lifestyle as you work towards your fitness goals!
What is Pilates?
“Pi-lats?”…”Pie-la-tees?”…right, before learning what it is, let’s learn how to actually pronounce the word! So, Pilates (the P is always a capital letter!), was created by Joseph Pilates and the correct pronunciation is Pi-la-tees. Pilates was actually initially invented as an exercise program for injured dancers and soldiers!
With focus on posture, balance and flexibility, Pilates is similar to other forms of exercise such as Yoga. What makes Pilates great for anyone and everyone is it’s very low risk of injury, due to it being a low impact exercise as it doesn’t involve putting much strain and weight through your joints and muscles .
Pilates involves a system of non-strenuous controlled movements, each of which require the body to activate its balance, stability and strength. For beginners, all that’s required for starting Pilates is a mat and your beautiful self!
Like Yoga, developing and applying a mind-body connection is a huge element of Pilates, with movements requiring breathing to be in tune with body actions in a controlled manner. Pilates let’s you choose your own intensity approach, with some movements mainly involving holding certain positions for a few seconds whilst movements of a higher intensity may require a greater activation of the core and muscles, making them more challenging.
The global growth of Pilates has led to the internet now being an abundant source of instruction for how to correctly practice Pilates exercises- go check out the content YouTube provides for Pilate beginners!
The Perks of Pilates
The massive worldwide rise in the popularity of Pilates is mainly down to so many of us feeling the truly positive impact that Pilates can have our both our body and mind. Let’s take a look at some of the most profound benefits that Pilates has to offer!
Increased strength and flexibility- Pilates facilitates ‘eccentric contraction’ whereby movements increase the length of muscles as tension is produced. This is fantastic for those of us looking to build strength and tone up using muscle tension created by the body itself! The lengthening movements also support elevated flexibility through the practice of taking muscles and joint through a range of motion.
Loosing belly fat- Due to Pilates being so core-activation orientated, it’s effective at focusing on the deepest layer of abdominals, helping you to really tone up that tummy!
Complete body fitness- While there is a focus on core strength, Pilates movements help to train the body as an integrated whole!- keeping many women fit around the world.
Adaptable to your fitness level/needs- With endless possible modifications and movements, a Pilates workout can truly be tailored to your individual needs and aspirations. Developing core strength, enhanced postural alignment and a better level of overall fitness are goals that anyone can chase!
Improved mental wellbeing- As a mind-body exercise, Pilates focuses on finding your centre. This idea transcends into the concept of making time for ourselves away from the chaos and non-stop activity of our life’s with the aim of staying grounded and centred to the present moment. Many have reported Pilates as being an effective way to manage stress, anxiety and depression.
I’m interested and I want to get started!
With such accessibility and such great benefits, it’s no surprise that Pilates has such a wide appeal. As mentioned, beginners can start at home using a mat and guided Pilates content available through the internet- in the bottom section you’ll find some great videos we’ve picked out for beginners!
Want to practice Pilates with others?
The constantly growing global popularity of Pilates means that near enough all cities and towns will have fitness centres offering Pilates classes! With classes being offered based on experience and fitness levels, this is a fantastic way to develop your overall fitness and support your mental wellbeing whilst also meeting new people and widening your social network!
Here are some useful links you can use for some beginner-level Pilates guidance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-PpDkbcNGo “Total Body Pilates! 20 Minute Tone & Shape, Legs, Butt, Abs, Beginners Home Workout”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgzPkvRQnro “No Equipment Needed! Pilates For Beginners | The Zoe Report By Rachel Zoe”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44HquH6QyXc “Introduction to Pilates - Workout 1 | NHS”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAXf2EcvRVQ “BEGINNERS PILATES- GREAT FOR EVERYBODY- FULL BODY”
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/pilates-for-beginners/ “Pilates video for beginners- Fitness Studio exercise videos”