The Benefits and Basics of Pilates

Pilates - exercise for body, mind, and spirit

Concentration, control, flexibility, alertness, shape, alignment, strength…. These wonderful characteristics unite in an effort to give you the body you’ve always wanted, merely using your strong mind and your determination. Pilates is a fun and exciting way to get your body to be in great shape and to improve your flexibility. The unification of mind, body and spirit in a coordinated effort will produce the results that you seek as you weave Pilates into your life.

Pilates, founded by Joseph Pilates, offer a focus on the strength of one’s “powerhouse,” which includes abdominal muscles, lower back, buttocks and inner thighs. Designed to follow a natural flow from one position and exercise to the next, Pilates typically features a low number of repetitions in a controlled setting.

By working with low reps and many diverse positions and exercises, those who practice Pilates are often able to improve their body shape without becoming overly exhausted or losing interest. Pilates has also been designed for those who lead busy lifestyles. Without missing a beat during the daily grind, professionals can practice Pilates in 20 minutes or less from the comfort of home.

One of the keys to a successful Pilates program is directing your focus to the appropriate element, essentially your “powerhouse.” By allowing your mind and body to work together, you ultimately introduce visualization into your workout. Try picturing yourself as the object or perfectly in the desired position, and you will improve your posture and enhance your physical strength, not to mention your figure!

Some of the great benefits of Pilates include:
• Body alignment
• Body shape
• Flexibility
• Mental alertness
• Muscle tone
• Posture
• Renewed energy
• Slimming effects
• Stress relief and management

By learning Pilates, you will discover many things about yourself that may have been hidden behind a busy lifestyle. To achieve the most success with your Pilates workouts, you must focus on your “center,” or “powerhouse.”

Concentrate on your breathing, deep breaths in and out, keeping rhythm and clearing your mind. You will also need to focus on the desired positions and movements, striving for precision even if your body cries out in slight discomfort. Maintain control and highly focused concentration. Let each exercise and position flow into the next.

Work your powerhouse. Find your center!Lastly, imagine your body is a rectangle from your shoulders to your hips. With this rectangle serving as your “frame,” be conscious of your frame throughout the workout and try to stay within your frame for best results.

For Pilates to have an effective impact on your body, you must commit to a regular schedule of workouts. You will probably need to workout at least once or twice a week for several weeks before you notice any changes in your body. For best results, consider adding a cardio workout a few times throughout the week.

To get started in Pilates, you first need to make a commitment to yourself. You can read and learn from books, but unless you put what you learn into practice, it isn’t going to do you any good. You can rent, buy or borrow workout tapes and DVDs, but you’ve got to follow a regular routine in order to achieve the benefits of Pilates. Finally, you can join a class that meets weekly or attend a gym where you can drop into classes as you please.

Just remember that the results you achieve are largely tied to the commitment and persistence that you put forth. Your dedication is the key that will take you to the next level!

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