When I explain my job to people, I occasionally get a blank stare. “You teach Pilates? Never heard of it.” “It’s a bit like Yoga,” I say, to nods of recognition. “Only with more focus on the core and your posture.”While Yoga has been around for millennia, Pilates is a newer form of exercise, founded by a German physical trainer, Joseph Pilates, in the early to mid 20th century. But what is the focus of the technique and why should you do regular Pilates classes?
Pilates Class: What to Expect
When you attend a Pilates session, you will notice a great focus on the abdominals. In comparison to yoga, there is less emphasis on meditation and relaxation and more on training your muscles to achieve a healthy, neutral posture.
Usually, you start the session by working on the lowest muscle layers, especially your Transversus Abdominis, the muscle that keeps your organs in place and your spine in an upright, neutral position. Later on, you work on the larger and more superficial muscles to increase strength.
Depending on your level and the type of class you attend, your experience will be vastly different. Many gyms offer mat classes with just small props, such as an exercise band, a small ball or a Pilates circle. However, some specialized studios are set up with specific Pilates equipment, such as the Reformer or WundaChair. These large machines provide resistance in the form of metal springs and make your training more diverse. They are especially beneficial for people who are recovering from an injury and need some extra support, or for people who need an extra challenge.
Why Should I Do Pilates?
Let’s explore some of the main benefits of taking Pilates classes. The main reason to start is gaining core strength and improving posture. Many people spend a large proportion of their time sitting, working on a computer. This can cause a range of issues, such as back pain, kyphosis (‘hunchback’) and hip problems. When you engage your core and stretch and strengthen your postural muscles regularly, you can prevent many of these conditions later in life.
Additional benefits include:
- Low Impact Rehab: If you are injured and looking to get back into exercise, Pilates could be the way to go for you. It is a low impact type of exercise that strengthens your muscles with low danger of getting re-injured.
- Get Better at Your Sport: Whether you are a runner, golfer, soccer player or dancer, Pilates can help you to strengthen and lengthen the appropriate muscles and even out any imbalances your regular sport creates.
- Strengthen All Muscle Groups: A good Pilates teacher is very knowledgeable about the body and will make sure to train all muscle groups in every session to help you look and feel better.
- Improve You Back Health: Pilates classes include all five positions of your spine: flexion, extension, rotation, side bends and neutral. This helps to keep your spine flexible as well as long. As Joseph Pilates himself said: “If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
You’ve convinced me! How Do I Start?
Congratulations! You have done your research, made the leap and are ready to try some classes. If you live in an urban area, there will be plenty of options for you to choose from. Visit some Pilates studios and test the different types of sessions. That way, you can choose one that fits your needs.
If you don’t want to commit yet or you don’t live near any good studios, you can try classes on Youtube or PilatesAnytime, and if you prefer to train from home long term, there is a great range of live online classes and private online teachers available.
Have you ever tried a Pilates class? What was your experience like?
About the Author
Kat is a freelance Pilates instructor, German teacher and book editor in London. Originally from Switzerland, she enjoys long hikes in the English countryside, curling up on the sofa with a good book, and long Walks and Talks with friends. You can find more exercise inspiration on her blog, A Chat with Kat.
Do you do Pilates? Comment Below!
Hello, I’m Thuy of honeybunnytwee. I write a Wellness Wednesday guest bloggers series. Send an article or link to a blog post about health and wellness, self-care, fitness, or mental health at [email protected]. Upon review, you’ll have a chance to be featured! I’m always looking for more Wellness Wednesday submissions.