Pilates For Core Strength, Posture & Balance
Pilates is a type of exercise that focuses on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength. A term often used nowadays, this is fundamentally about strengthening certain core muscles in the back and abdomen, which will aid in minimising back problems and maintaining good posture. In many ways Pilates is similar to Yoga, the main difference being that as well as the physical Yoga places more emphasis on relaxation and uses meditation. They both however develop strength, balance, flexibility, posture and good breathing technique.
Originally called Contrology, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German carpenter and gymnast. Whilst he was living in the UK he invented Pilates as an exercise program for injured dancers and soldiers. In the 1920s he immigrated to the US and opened a Pilates studio in New York. Joseph Pilates originally devised more than 500 exercises, and nowadays these have evolved to include the use of many props such mats, hand weights, stretch bands, gym balls, and foam rollers.
As ever if you are considering doing Pilates it is important that you choose the right class for you, and if you have a health condition that may require close attention check with the Pilates teacher that their class is suitable. Because Pilates can be modified to provide either a gentle program or a challenging workout it is suitable for both beginners and for people who exercise regularly. It can be taught one-to-one or to a group, although obviously the former will be more expensive.
The following health benefits can be gained from doing Pilates regularly:
- Improved core strength: the core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles that support a strong, supple back, good posture, and optimal movement.
- Improved overall strength achieved by building toned muscles that work perfectly within the body as a whole.
- Good posture and improved balance achieved through good alignment supported by a strong core. Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony.
- Improved flexibility and mobility through working towards a safe increase in the length and stretch of muscles and range of motion within the joints.
- Increased energy and general sense of well-being through improving breathing, circulation, and stimulating and freeing the spine and muscles.
- Promotes weight loss and a long, lean appearance. Pilates will change your body creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look. Over time it will make it look and feel fit, although as ever actual weight loss can only truly be achieved if you burn more calories than you eat.
- Increased body/mind connection through practicing each movement with complete focus, literally living in the present moment. The Pilates principles are centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow, all of which promote optimal integration of body and mind.