Curious about Pilates and finding out why everyone from professional athletes to physiotherapists are falling in love with this movement method? Don’t let it fool you, Pilates maybe be low impact and safe for all fitness levels but its sure packs a punch. Focusing on HOW you move, rather than just making it to the end of an exercise at any cost, and the benefits that come along with it.
1. Know Your Body Inside Out
One of the greatest things about Pilates are the principles that make it what it is. They can be applied to any movement, anywhere, at any time so you can get to know and understand your own body from the inside out, moving safely without the risk of injury. These five basic principles help to guide us through the most appropriate exercises and modifications based on your own individual needs. When you understand the principles and how they feel when correctly applied to your own practice, you become constantly aware of your posture, habits, and how you hold yourself throughout the day.
2. Core Strength Is Central To Pilates
In Pilates, we refer to the core as the ‘powerhouse’. Meaning that everything we do comes from and connects to the core and should be held in awareness and incorporated into all exercises, even if only for the breath. Properly building a balance of muscle strength around the ribcage, spine, pelvis, hips, and shoulders enhances whole body balance and stability. A capable spine and intelligent torso are at the root of almost everything you do, play a major role in preventing injuries, and helping to crank up the power in your movements. With a strong foundation of core strength, the sky is the limit.
3. Posture and Pilates Go Hand In Hand
With a strong focus on core strength and alignment, Pilates will work to build balanced muscle strength and length to bring the body into an ideal alignment. By patterning movements slowly in correct alignment, we reinforce neural pathways so that we can reproduce these movements efficiently with speed. Not only will this put less strain on the body during daily activities but it can prevent a catalogue of problems such as headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, and stiffness, just to name a few. Working from an ideal postural alignment is also proven to enhance physical performance. A smart spine capable of diverse movement teamed with a strong core will show you just how resilient and capable your body is. That’s why EVERY DAY IS SPINE DAY.
4. Flexibility Is The Goal With Pilates
Where conventional strength training focuses on improving a particular exercise, Pilates combines strength with mobility training to focus on becoming stronger at being human. When you focus on increasing muscular flexibility your posture is likely to improve, correcting imbalances by relieving stress on the joints. Mobility & control improves the health and longevity of your joints, lubricating them in synovial fluid and increasing the blood supply to muscle tissues. This will reduce the amount of overall pain in the body and prevent injury by expanding your range of motion and increasing the resilience of tissues.
5. Pilates Is Gentle but Challenging
A huge benefit of pilates is that it can be tailored exactly to your own needs and is accessible for humans of all performance levels. Most Pilates exercises are low impact and easily modified. They can be modified to offer suitable alternatives, whether it be to make it more achievable or more challenging. Performed in positions that produce minimal strain in the body and are low impact Pilates is so safe it is often used and recommended by physical therapists to rehabilitate injuries. Get the workout that best suits you now, focus on building your foundation and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves!
6. Move Pain-Free With Pilates
There are many factors that make Pilates the ideal candidate for pain-free movement. Mindfulness and intention should always trump reps and speed. Take your time and do it right. Pilates is tailored to each individual’s needs to address weaknesses and bring a sense of balance to the body, reducing wear and tear. By restoring balance and reducing tension in the body we can move more efficiently, putting less strain on the body during our daily activities. Pilates will take the fear of pain, weakness, and instability out of the equation so that you can move with confidence in any situation because you know your body and understand it’s limitations. When used correctly, the principles of Pilates help us to prevent injuries and keep you pain-free, regardless of the adventures you find yourself on.
7. Master Your Movement
Once you have a practical understanding of the principles and how to move your body in space, you create space within your mind-body connection to challenge your bodies ability to handle difficult co-ordinations and to move with agility and balance. It’s not always a question of getting stronger but working smarter. Knowing how to control individual muscles releases tension from the right areas, in the right timing, to work more effectively as a whole system. If your practice does not lead you in the direction of being able to confidently ‘just move’ without the need for set routines, you’re not working towards the highest level of your own abilities. In Pilates, it’s not just about the push-up, but how you approach the push-up and how it translates to your real life.
8. Movement Catharsis
The beauty of Pilates is that it all begins with your breath. Whether you need a restorative moment on your mat or you’re feeling pumped up and ready to go, your breath is always there to guide you. Learning to master your breath is going to benefit you, both on and off your mat. When you can use the power of your inhales and exhales to help enhance the efficiency of your movements, you will find greater clarity of thought and improve your control and awareness in movement. Deliberately noticing the sensations within ourselves and our responses to those sensations are central to the journey. These sensations can be physical and they can sometimes be emotional. We need to hold a safe space to work through and release whatever experiences arise while on our mats. When we limit ourselves to a solely verbally expressive existence, eventually everything will lead to the unspoken things we’ve held in and distorted with our words. We don’t always have to fix it; we just need to FEEL IT. Feeling it is enough, your body will do the rest when you give it the love and freedom to do so.
9. Find Freedom of Movement in Pilates
There is something so powerful about simply feeling the joy of movement, opening the body, stretching, lengthening and strengthening. Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel. Keeping the right balance between moving intuitively, listening to what your body is asking of you and making sure you’re sticking to your checklist (some days it’s about leaving the checklist behind), trusting your instincts, and allowing your breath to guide you. Where can this movement go from here? What does my body need from me right now? How can I connect the concepts to each movement? Give space for inventive ways of doing each movement and let your instincts guide you to go beyond the basics and just flow with it.
10. Pilates Breeds Confidence
When you feel great you look great. I’m not talking about losing weight or physically changing anything about yourself. It’s all about what gives you confidence and makes you feel like your best-self on the inside. Pilates gives you the knowledge you need to know how your body works and have the confidence to back it up. When you have a Pilates routine that helps support you towards your goals and is targeted towards what your body needs and wants, you will feel like you can take on the world no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You will always know that you’ve got this!
Wanting to try adding Pilates into your regular training? I’d be more than happy to help get you started! If you are in London, Ontario send me a message via my contact page and I can give you more information on my private and group classes. If you are outside of the London area be sure to check out my shop page for some great online Pilates workouts that you can do on your own from home anytime or from anywhere you have the space to roll out your mat, no props needed. A stellar investment to help get you started on your Pilates journey today.