6 Reasons We Love Pilates
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. As of 2005, there are 11 million people who practice the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States.
Pilates called his method Contrology because his method uses the mind to help control the movement of the body during exercise.
“Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles.” It is an exercise and breathing regime that “develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” - Joseph Pilates
Many times people go to the gym and workout or take a class and understand very little about the right form or posture. This leads to ineffective workouts and can also result in injury. It is pretty common to experience a gym injury from lifting weights improperly or taking a fitness class where you end up hurting yourself more than helping. We love Pilates because you can actually accomplish your fitness goals through controlled movements.
The focus of Pilates is that what counts is not so much what you do, but rather how you do it. It’s all about working smarter, not harder. Can you imagine this? It's contrary to everything we've ever thought. We think we need to work out an hour every day in the hardest most intense way to actually see results, but with Pilates, it's not about how much you hurt or how hard it is. It's about making every posture count with controlled movements that affect the whole body. Instead of dreading your next work out, with Pilates you crave the next time you get to practice your technique and walk away feeling stronger, taller and more flexible than before. The payoff happens as you watch your everyday movements occur with ease and you become a well orchestrated and efficient mover.
As Joseph Pilates said, “a few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”
2. Mind-Body Connection
For Joseph Pilates, the health of mind and body are inextricably linked. Many exercise regiments help you to "Zone Out". There is a place for that, however, Pilates helps you to "Zone In". In a world of constant busyness, people have a need for stress relief. Pilates attention to increasing mind-body awareness and produce focused mindfulness is time well spent.
“It is the mind itself which shapes the body.” - Joseph Pilates
There are many studies that have shown the amazing role of imagery and how it affects the quality of our movements. Pilates uses this practice of imagery and cuing to facilitate and teach efficient and healthy movement. This is why many professional athletes use Pilates on a weekly basis to supplement their training. The great news is that the mind-body connection goes both ways. Your workout does not only become more effective but you will feel the impact it has on centering your mind and emotions.
3. Spine Health
Anyone who has experienced back pain can testify to the disabling feeling it can bring to both the body and mind. The Pilates method has a large focus on strengthening core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and are essential to providing support for a healthy spine. In a world where sitting for long hours has become our norm, Pilates can teach you to use proper postures in your daily life and bring back an awareness of healthy spinal movement.
The spine, for Joseph Pilates, was the key to physical fitness – and by extension, emotional and psychological well-being. “A man is as young as his spinal column,” he once famously said.
Teaching our clients to understand ideal postures that can successfully withstand the demands of movement is our goal. Whether moving only your body weight or adding additional load there is always an optimal spinal position that will activate the correct musculature and protect the spine. When we focus on alignment and intentional movement the right muscles will begin to fire. This is how we protect the spine long term and develop both spinal mobility and core control for a healthy back.
“If your spine is stiff at 30 you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.” - Joseph Pilates
Along with exercises to strengthen the core, Pilates teaches a precise focus on breath.
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” - Joseph Pilates
His method teaches us to use the breath in all that we do. The focus on breathing during your Pilates practice enhances relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and helps to facilitate specific movements that improve posture and core control. This, he believed, was vital. “It is tragically deplorable to contemplate the millions who have never mastered the art of correct breathing.”
Many studies have been done on breathing. In our busy world, we often find ourselves taking short quick breaths or even holding our breath. This causes stress, tightness in the body, and more. Deep and controlled breaths have been shown to bring relaxation, help brain function, improve overall health and when done correctly, breathing can facilitate desired movements of the body.
5. Full-Body Workout
There is no better workout to experience healthy movement for your body that will translate into retraining your mind to choose efficient and effective movement patterns.
When you train the body as a whole you initiate new neurological connections that create new patterns of understanding movement. This is where the real change begins. With whole body movement, the body learns new ways to live, breathe and move. With regular practice of Pilates, many find that old aches and pains simply fade away as they incorporate these new patterns into daily living.
At Whole Pilates, we believe that the interconnection of total body movement with whole body health will bring about alignment and vitality for you to find the original balance you were born with.
“Change happens through movement and movement heals.” - Joseph Pilates
6. Anyone Can Do It
Joseph Pilates was a gymnast, boxer, and taught self-defense. When he opened his studio in NYC he worked very closely with dancers, especially those recovering from injury. Pilates was also well known for his work with those who were bed-ridden and suffering from illness. Pilates was very ingenious and would hang various apparatus over the sick-bed of patients to facilitate movement of their limbs. These apparatuses became the inspiration behind the Pilates equipment we use today.
The modifications and progressions that can be applied to Pilates exercises make this type of workout appropriate for the frailest beginner or the most advanced athletic mover. All walks of life can benefit from this mind-body exercise and it can easily be tailored to accomplish individual goals. We've found it extremely beneficial for those with chronic pain, MS, pregnancy, and other movement restrictions or injuries as these individuals are often unable to participate in a traditional exercise program. With the use of specialized Pilates equipment, we can address specific needs in a safe and effective way.
Pilates is best learned from a certified Pilates practitioner who can observe your personal movement patterns and guide you in your practice to accomplish lasting physical change. All of our instructors at Whole Pilates Studio come with a wealth of knowledge of the human body. In addition to our current physical therapy and Pilates practices, we each have over a decade of instructional experience in artistic movement and dance. We also carry certified specialties and training in Pilates for osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and neurological dysfunction as well as Pilates for the pre & post-natal client.
We welcome you to experience the benefits of Pilates for yourself by joining one of our group classes or scheduling an individualized session with us at Whole Pilates Studio. Learn more at www.wholepilatesstudio.com.