The exercise form that we now know as Pilates is the brainchild of German athlete, physical trainer, and self-defence instructor Joseph Pilates. After recovering from a sickly countenance and training in gymnastics, bodybuilding, and martial arts, the form’s namesake inculcated the belief that modern-day health problems were a result of bad posture and inefficient breathing. Thus, in the early decades of the 1900s, Joseph Pilates developed a form of physical exercise that focused on breathing control, slow and precise movements, and mind-body awareness. He espoused it as a good routine for former soldiers and injured dancers who nonetheless wanted to keep fit.
Fast-forward to present-day Australia: many citizens have assumed a similar passion for health and wellness and have tapped into Pilates for their weekly workout requirements. Given the popularity of this exercise method, is it a practice that can be adopted by anyone? Is Pilates a good exercise form to rely on in order to lose weight? And if you were interested in trying out a Melbourne Pilates class, what are some pointers that you should know beforehand?
This FAQ should help you determine whether this unique set of exercises aligns with your fitness goals in the long run.
- What Does Pilates Entail?
At its bare bones, Pilates is a method of low-impact exercises that seeks to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve one’s postural alignment. The focus area of Pilates is the core, although it will definitely prove to be a workout for the other parts of your body. A Pilates regimen can involve exercises done on mats, much like yoga, or exercises assisted with a machine called the reformer. The Pilates mat serves to cushion pressure points, while the reformer machine uses a sliding platform, a foot bar, and appropriately placed springs and pulleys to create resistance for your muscles. The goal of both mat-based and machine-based Pilates is to train your muscles to lift against gravity. The routine itself will also have you learning to concentrate on one task at a time, do the task properly, and control your breathing while in position.
All in all, the philosophy of Pilates isn’t one that’s centred on exhausting your muscles or pushing you to do as many reps as possible. Pilates is about gaining and preserving control over your movements.
- What Benefits Will You Get Out of Pilates?
Practitioners of Pilates cite that it’s helped strengthen their abdomen and pelvis area and improved their posture. The strength comes from using one’s own body as a lifting weight instead of external weights.
Pilates is also peaceful, relaxing, and meditative. Those who dislike competition and want to exercise at their own pace appreciate working out in the mode of Pilates. Some exercise junkies choose Pilates over yoga, or vice versa, but there is also a considerable number of people who appreciate both. They look to yoga to increase overall flexibility and Pilates to provide a more intensive core workout.
If you’re interested in taking Pilates to lose weight, then it’s best to couple it with additional workouts for cardio. The two primary benefits that you’ll get out of Pilates are: longer, leaner muscles that can supplement more intensive physical activity, and a more relaxed, less stressed personal mood.
- Who Can Take Pilates?
Virtually anyone can take Pilates. It is a forgiving exercise form to beginners, infrequent gym visitors, and regular athletes alike. Beginners should enlist in a class so that they can be taught the basic forms before attempting to undergo the more complicated routines on their own.
If you are interested in taking Pilates but have an outstanding medical condition such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, or a knee or back injury, you should ask your doctor to clear you first. Moreover, you should seek certified Pilates instructors who have a background in working with students with circumstances similar to yours. This is so that you’ll have the safest and most productive Pilates workout possible.
- What Should You Expect at Your First Pilates Class?
Most Pilates classes have a duration of 45 minutes to one hour—and you will be surprised how much can be done in that time! It may take a while for you to hit your stride as you’ll be directed to focus on technique rather than repetitive movement. After clearing away sequences like “The Hundred” and “The Roll Up,” you will likely be a bit sore. However, you’re sure to see improvements in your breathing and posture, and that should motivate you to keep coming back.
How Pilates Fits In to Your Overall Fitness Plan
Perhaps the best advice to impart for now is that Pilates works best when it’s not taken in isolation. You can choose for it to be your primary mode of exercise for the week, but if your goal is to shed pounds and earn a stronger body, then you can mix and match Pilates with other exercise routines.
You can trust Pilates to improve other movements you make, such as swimming or running. In itself, Pilates can offer you better control over your body, good posture, better sleep—and even increased mental and emotional strength to “resist” life’s other challenges.