Pilates is one of the most popular exercise systems in the world today, and people from all walks of life have become interested to practice its routines in order to stay in shape. It is believed to be an effective way to lose weight through physical activity, a method to boost one’s physical wellbeing, and also as a means to relax and get rid of stress.
But what is Pilates, when explained in layman’s terms?
A mind-body exercise method
Pilates is a form of mind-body exercise developed by Joseph Pilates, a well-known German physical trainer. This form of exercise is unique since it not only aims to improve one’s form, but more importantly intends to enhance a person’s various capacities, such as strength, flexibility, posture, and mental awareness.
Unlike other exercise systems, Pilates routines include the use of special devices, such as a mat, reformer, Cadillac, chair, and other small props to execute its routines. By using these devices, practitioners are able to hit their target wellness goals based on their needs and the areas of the body that they want to improve.
Pilates has 5 principles: breathe, rib cage placement, pelvic placement, scapular movement and stabilization, and cervical and neck placement. These principles are targeted not only by the routines, but also through the use of Pilates devices, as these also help in achieving fitness and rehabilitation of different the different muscle groups.
What do you achieve when you start practicing Pilates?
Pilates exercises push for holistic wellness, thus they can be used not only for the improvement of physique, but also of the mental wellbeing. Among the abilities that can be further enhanced through this exercise system are concentration, control, breathing, centering, precision, and efficiency of movement.
Concentration is developed in Pilates mainly because its routines require undivided attention. Pilates followers need to focus on each step of the routine all the time, so that the entire body achieves smooth and precise movements.
Control on the other than is also developed, but this is in terms of muscle flexibility and coordination. Control of the muscles can be difficult to achieve since the muscles also make involuntary movements from time to time, but through concentration, the mind is able to take control of these movements in a conscious manner.
Another ability that is enhanced through Pilates is “centering.” Pilates routines begin with a focal point, which is at the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips and buttocks, and inner thighs. All movements in the routines begin from these areas and go outward to the extremities. This makes Pilates challenging, as the body movements are reoriented to act from the center, which in normal situations do not always take place.
By developing the center area, the rest of the body-from the organs to the muscles, are strengthened consistently.
Pilates exercises also aim for flexibility and smoothness of movement, and these are achieved through appropriate routine transitions. Efficiency of movement thus hits two goals: one is to make the body more flexible, and two is to strengthen coordination of movements from center to the extremities.
Precision is another key principle in Pilates. Precision is achieved by consistent concentration on the routines, as in time the body becomes more conscious in doing the correct movements not only when under a Pilates session, but also in other daily activities.
Lastly, Pilates aims for its practitioners to achieve regular and utilized breathing. The routines come with breathing techniques that not only strengthens the lungs, but also helps improve blood circulation.
Pilates comes in different forms that suit learners of various levels. Hence, if you want to know more about what is Pilates, it is recommended to join a class and experience its effects first hand.