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Originally invented in Europe, before finding popularity across the pond, Pilates is now done throughout the world. Despite being popular with pregnant women, it's actually something that everyone can do.
When you think of Pilates, you no doubt imagine a load of heavily pregnant women doing gentle movements on a lovely wooden floor or neon-coloured mat. And although an adapted form of Pilates is great for women who want to continue exercising during their pregnancy, it actually brings both mental and physical benefits for everyone.
Let's take a look at this discipline and see if you're tempted to give it a try!
1. What is Pilates?
Pilates was invented in 1926 by a nurse, Joseph Pilates, to, “make the body as strong as a Greek column and as supple as a cat”. This description conjures up a great image and explains the aims of Pilates very well. Pilates uses your different muscle groups, particularly your glutes, lower back and abs, for a deep workout.
The result is more toned muscles and a more flexible body. The method invented by Joseph Pilates, which really flourished across the pond, also aims to improve posture through controlled movements and by holding the body in just the right place, while paying attention to its natural position.
Flow, concentration, breathing, accuracy and centring are all important aspects of Pilates, which can be done by anyone, no matter their age. It brings numerous benefits - both mental and physical - and can be done either at the gym or at home. It can also be done with or without accessories, aiming to return your body to a state of harmony and release the stress and poor positioning that builds up during everyday life.
2. The Rules of Pilates
Pilates will improve your balance, help you gain muscle tone, improve your posture and take care of your well-being! It's a gentle method that seeks to rebalance your body's muscles by focusing on the ones that control balance and that hold up the spine.
There are around 500 different Pilates exercises in all, designed to strengthen your weakest muscle groups and relax any that are too tense. Having your spine properly aligned and holding your body in the correct posture are the two key focuses.
The method is based on six general principles: concentration, breathing, centring (to do with the core), flow, control and precision.
3. What Are The Benefits of Pilates?
As you've seen, there are plenty of mental and physical benefits to this gentle form of exercise! Joseph Pilates, who was relatively well placed to talk about his invention, explained that it would take about 10 sessions before you felt any difference, 20 to really see it, and 30 for a whole new body!
This new body that the German nurse described was toned, aligned and rebalanced through performing the various movements.
Pilates should be done in a calm manner, listening to your breathing and focusing on it. It gives you a chance to completely switch off and start listening to your body again in order to deal with your muscular and postural needs. Basically, you listen, feel and rebalance as needed!
4. Is Pilates For You?
Pilates is suitable for absolutely anyone. It may be a well-known activity for pregnant women, but it's also good for athletes recovering from an injury, older people wanting to keep up their fitness, anyone suffering from stress, people who sit down all day, and people who have to walk around all day long! There are no age or fitness limits for doing Pilates. So there are no excuses for not giving it a go!
5. The Equipment You Need For Pilates
If you're tempted to try Pilates, there are two schools of thought when it comes to clothing. Some people will feel better in relatively loose clothing that leaves their bodies free to move.
A slightly oversized T-shirt will give you this freedom, together with straight bottoms or leggings. However, some people want to be able to see how they are positioned when they look in the mirror and allow their teacher to correct anything if necessary, particularly when it comes to their stomach and back. In this case, you should wear relatively close-fitting clothes: a sports bra, tank top and leggings are a great option for women.
Thin, breathable socks will put the finishing touch to your outfit, although many Pilates instructors recommend doing it barefoot so that you can better feel the floor and be more anchored.
So now you're packed full of information for trying out Pilates! If you need a way of de-stressing and getting back in shape, then it's time to grab your kit bag! What about you? What are your thoughts on this discipline? What benefits have you noticed? We can't wait to hear from you!
Accessories for gentle exercises, such as gentle gym or the Pilates method, are anything but futile. They are very useful for everyone, irrespective of their level. They make the exercises easier, improve posture or add extra difficulty to training in order to make progress.