Pilates Exercise Classes
What is Pilates?
When it comes to Pilates, most women and probably men too have never set foot in a Pilates studio. Maybe that’s because it seems a bit of a snobby thing to do, or maybe they think it’s going to be too difficult, or a waste of time because it’s not a ‘proper workout’ or they think you only do it to help a bad back. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Pilates is a uniquely awesome thing to do and so good for you!
Pilates is a fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany in the early 20th century and it’s all about controlled movements, which should look and feel like a workout. It emphasises alignment, breathing, developing a strong core (the muscles of the abdomen, lower back and hips) and improving coordination and balance, and let’s face it, these are attributes everyone could do with improving. It’s all about making your body a better place. And as with everything we offer at 24 Fit Derby, it is perfect for all ages, levels of fitness and ability. Pilates allows movements to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to any other level. The instructor will demonstrate these modifications before every move, so you can go entirely at your own pace, and move up when you’re ready.
Pilates exercises embrace six principles
Breathing. It’s all about increasing the intake of oxygen and circulating it to every part of the body. In Pilates, you breathe out with effort and in naturally, engaging your abdominal and pelvic floor. This might sound tricky, but don’t worry. Everyone struggles a bit at first but the more practised you become, the more natural it will feel (a bit like playing golf)
• Concentration – intense focus. It’s all about the way you execute the exercises. But again, don’t worry. It sounds very serious but we still have a lot of fun
• Control – all exercises are done with control (not as easy as it sounds!). But herein lies the effectiveness.
• Centering – Pilates sees the centre, the aforementioned core, as the starting point to being able to master control of the body. All movement starts at the centre and move out to the limbs.
• Flow – the aim is to attain a beautiful flowing movement through the transitions to build strength and stamina
• Alignment – corrects muscle imbalances and coordination
• Precision – again, it’s not just about the movement, it’s about executing it precisely and perfectly. Less is more in Pilates if done properly. Hopefully this precision and economy of movement can flow over into everyday life
• Relaxation – improves concentration of the mind and focus generally
• Stamina – increased precision leads to more efficient movement and less stress to perform the exercises
To the uninitiated, this all might sound a bit daunting, but Pilates is a great class to participate in. We’re a friendly bunch at 24 Fit Derby and nobody will be expecting great things from you. Everyone learns and develops together, it’s fun, relaxed and extremely beneficial, whether you want relief from excess fitness classes or from the strain of daily life.
What are Pilates workouts good for?
It’s AMAZING for your abs, and well, that’s reason alone to do it! It hits your core like nothing else. Do you know that according to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, after about 8 months of regular Pilates, women strengthened their rectus abdominals (six-pack) by 21%, AND eliminated muscle imbalances between their left and right side?
• It can ease back pain. A stronger core equals a better back. Just four weeks should reap results
• It’s easy on your joints. It’s slow and controlled so it puts minimal stress on your joints
• It improves your concentration. Basically, you’ll have so much to think about (your breathing and your body and how the two work together) that you won’t be able to ‘zone out’. You won’t be able to think about work, money, partners etc for a whole hour!
• It improves your sex life! Yep, you read that right. Pilates moves strengthen your pelvic floor ladies and that means better sex! AND, strong pelvic floor muscles can help with childbirth too! Babies just fly out! For the men, I’m sure you won’t complain!
• Improves your sports performance. When you start focusing on your core, you realise that all your muscles connect to it. With a stronger core you can run faster, and your workouts improve.
• It improves flexibility. If you say you can’t do it because you’re not flexible enough, then, you definitely should be doing it. When everything’s tight, you shorten your range of movement and this impacts on your exercise performance and can lead to injury.
Wow! After reading all that you must be wondering how you’ve survived this long without Pilates in your life. Change that now and incorporate a weekly class into your exercise programme. It will help you in so many ways and your body will thank you.