What is Pilates?
Is it… a bit like stretching? Like gymnastics? Good for your posture? Type of yoga? Exercises for your core? Good for your hips?
Yes, all of the above and much, much more.
Pilates (formal name “Contrology”) is a form of exercise designed by Joseph Pilates that focuses on stretching and strengthening the whole body to improve balance, muscle-strength, flexibility and posture. It can be performed on specialised spring-assisted Pilates apparatus or on a mat.
Pilates teaches you to be in control of your body by addressing dysfunctional movement and postural patterns and the resulting muscular imbalances. It releases tight muscles tissue which can occur over time due to daily habitual incorrect movement, injury and/or other physical, emotional and mental stress.
Through lengthening and stretching muscles, mobilising joints, increasing strength and core support and improving flexibility and range of movement, Pilates re-educates and re-balances the body allowing it to move with ease, flow and optimum functionality.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
- A stronger, healthier back
- A more toned, mobile and flexible body
- A leaner, longer look
- A flatter stomach
- A better body shape
- A better balance between strength and suppleness
- Better posture
- A straighter spine
- A taller gait
- Easier, fuller movement
- Better coordination
- Greater body awareness
- Injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Gain without pain
- Relief from stress
- General fitness
- A sense of calm and well-being
Who is Pilates for?
Pilates is for everyone. Pilates judges nobody, no matter your age, shape, size, fitness or strength. It is the most adaptable form of exercise that is out there. As such it is suitable for people of all fitness levels.
Pilates enables you to explore and discover your body in motion (“I felt muscles I didn’t know I had”), tone your muscles, strengthen your core. It increases our overall flexibility, increases your full body strength and promotes longetivity.
Pilates is also great for rehabilitation or enhancing sports performance or if you feel depressed, have aches and pains..
Why the Pilates apparatus and not just mat exercises…?
If you have not seen the Reformer or Cadillac before, you could confuse them with some kind of medieval torture device (quite often new clients’ first reaction!). But when you have the privilege of moving on Pilates equipment, you’ll experience how your body awakens. Pure movement bliss.
Pilates equipment utilizes springs to change the workload. The three most popular pieces of equipment are the Reformer, Cadillac/trapeze table and Wunda chair. Each piece has a multitude of exercises specific to the apparatus. Mat Pilates is a series of exercises that are performed on the floor/mat without the assistance of equipment.
The benefit of using equipment to do Pilates is that the equipment can “assist” you through an exercise (making it easier to perform). The equipment will help you to move through a greater range of motion than you could unassisted. As you become stronger the spring tension is manipulated to make the exercises more challenging.
The BodyAct studio is fully equipped to make sure that one can explore the full Pilates method on each apparatus.
Can Pilates help with back pain?
Pilates is particularly safe for those with back problems as it teaches the neutral alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment. These are very important skills for the back pain sufferer. In addition, postural asymmetries can be improved, thus benefiting intervertebral joints and discs. Pilates also improves strength, flexibility and suppleness of the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdle. Good movement through these joins helps prevent unnecessary stress on the spine.
I am a fully qualified Back4Good practitioner and work closely with chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths to help people.
How do I know whether my Pilates teacher really knows what he-she is doing?
One way to get some idea is to observe whether your teacher places emphasis on such crucial factors as positioning, concentration and breathing.
An even better way is to ask what training they have done. Good Pilates teaches have done a long and rigorous training, which is more like an old-fashioned apprenticeship.
Wherever you learn Pilates, you should make sure that your teacher is properly qualified, since Pilates taught by someone without the right training can do you more harm than good. Yet, many exercise teachers in gyms and elsewhere now include Pilates exercises in their classes, despite themselves never having had any training at all.
How many times a week do I have to do Pilates to see results?
People do Pilates anywhere from once a week to once a day. But twice is week is common and what we recommend for most clients. If you are not able to commit to private sessions I run small group equipement classes.
Is Pilates like yoga?
The difference between Pilates and Yoga, reckons one Californian fitness instructor, is as follows: ‘One is eyes closed and think of God; and one is eyes open, think of your butt’.
Yes, there are similarities between Pilates and Yoga, partly because Joseph Pilates consciously drew on both Eastern and Western traditions when first developing his method.
However, there are also key differences. Pilates, for example, is more dynamic than Yoga, which places more emphasis on the static holding of certain poses.
Pilates also focuses more on strengthening the deepest layers of abdominal muscles, which form a corset around your torso.
If you have the time, there is no reason why you should not do both and get different benefits from each.
What should I wear?
Any comfortable, loose clothing, such as a T-shirt with leggings or tracksuit bottoms, or else shorts of a respectable length; but no singlets please.
Please do not wear shoes, since they are not allowed on the machines but do wear socks, clean if possible.