Pilates is a collection of good movement habits, designed to make our bodies adaptable and resilient enough to withstand whatever we decide to do with them in life. Beyond the building of long lean muscles that Pilates is known for, Joseph Pilates sought to create a method with a variety of profound health benefits.
Body Alignment, Awareness and Control
The poor posture that results from hours of sitting and a largely sedentary life is the unfortunate status quo Joe Pilates began to observe in his day. Tense shoulders, hunched back, tight hips, low back pain…all of these continue to be even more rampant in our day. Pilates empowers you to relearn how your body is meant to stack up for effortless movement and injury prevention.
Deep Core Strength
Probably the number one thing Pilates is known for is building core strength! The flat abs are wonderful, but even more importantly, the deep abdominal and back muscles activated in Pilates are just what you’ll need to hold your spine and body long and strong in its newly discovered proper alignment.
Pilates movements are designed to elongate and strengthen simultaneously, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Exercises that demand muscles both work (contract) and lengthen at the same time are the optimal way to build flexibility in balance with strength. By designing his movements this way Joseph Pilates improves the bodies of those who are stiff with tight, rigid muscles and those who are prone to injury because of their Gumby-like hyper mobility.
Pilates also demands all of the muscles work together. Many conventional workouts tend to work the same muscles- leading to weak muscles getting weaker and strong muscles getting stronger. The result is muscular imbalance – a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates helps you learn to activate the muscles that like to slack off, and relax the keeners that like to do all the work. No muscle group is over trained or under trained resulting in evenly balanced well conditioned musculature.
Joseph Pilates was very specific that his work was to revitalize all of the body’s systems. Working, stretching, rolling and moving as we do in Pilates relaxes the muscles, strengthens and lubricates the joints, detoxifies the organs, improves the circulation and immune system, stimulates the brain, releases endorphins and energizes the whole person! You leave your session feeling accomplished and revitalized.
Pilates prioritizes deep abdominal breathing- an empirically proven technique for combatting stress and anxiety. Emphasizing breath during your Pilates session conditions you to breathe better throughout the rest of your day as well. Slow deep breaths help activate the body’s natural relaxation response and parasympathetic nervous system. This is when the body gets a chance to recuperate, regenerate and heal. Stress hormones drops, inflammation decreases, blood pressure goes down while energy, focus, problem solving ability, and motivation go up!
“You Time”: How often do you get to have some personal time, away from the commitments of family, career, or charity? When you’re doing Pilates, focusing on nothing but the physical task at hand will get you in a zone where you can put everything else on hold for a while. In other words, Pilates = You Time.