Like most, I had tried Mat Pilates at my local gym. Coming from a very athletic background, I felt pretty confused around 10 minutes in. Not really grasping the concept or fully understanding the buzz behind it all. After my first class I left feeling nothing, a little disappointed and to be honest, bored.
Why Should You Try Pilates
I was a non-believer,unconvinced on the whole thing. It seemed too “slow for me.” I’m used to challenging workouts, heavy lifting,pushing the limits and fast speeds. This to me, didn’t seem challenging enough or beneficial for an athlete, or so I thought…
I didn’t really get involved too much in Pilates until I was severely injured years later. I sustained a life altering injury to my leg, which nearly resulted in amputation. I didn’t walk for two years. I needed some form of exercise and rehabilitation, and decided to research Pilates. What I discovered, along with the personal physical benefits I saw, amazed me. I decided to further pursue it and become trained in “Stott Pilates” myself. Pilates, when done the right way, reaps major physical and mental benefits. The science and functionality makes sense, it works, and it creates some killer abs!
BENEFITS OF PILATES
· Improved Flexibility
· Better Balance
· Muscular Endurance
· Improved muscular activation
· Spinal Mobility
· Mental and Body Awareness
· Ability to properly engage the Deepest stabilizing muscles (Transverse Abdominis, Multifidus, Pelvic Floor,QFL)
WHAT PILATES DOES NOT DO
· Not a cardiovascular workout, it will generally not reach an aerobic level
· Not a replacement for strength or traditional weight training, it is however a great addition
· Not a big calorie burner, on average a Mat Pilates class will burn approximately 150-250 calories.
Research shows (Fitness journal 2014)
Better Dynamic Balance with 5 weeks of Pilates equipment training,dynamic standing balance improved in healthy adults (average age 27) compared with control subjects (Johnson et al. 2007) Women over 60 who took Pilates mat lessons for 12 weeks made gains in dynamic balance and reaction time had fewer falls (Irez et al.2001)
More life satisfaction woman who participated in twice weekly, 1 hour Pilates mat classes for 6 months enjoyed greater life satisfaction (Cruz-Ferreira et al.2011a)
Improved psychological well-being. In addition to being more satisfied with their lives, these women improved their physical self-concept and health perception, contributing to an improvement in overall psychological well being (CruzFerreira et al.2001a)
Enhanced brain function. An analysis of five case studies showed that the brains neural networking activity increased over ten weeks of intensive Pilates training. (Bein et al 2013)
What’s with all the inhales and exhales you say? Like most you probably attended your first class didn’t pay attention to the breathing left and felt nothing. I promise you give it a shot and do it correctly you will reap the benefits ten fold. Pilates helps to engage the Deep Stabilizing muscles like no other exercise. Particularly the transverse abdominis, which acts almost, like a corset for the body wrapping horizontally around. It targets these muscles every exercise and every direction you move with the added breath to help further engage.
Lets test the breath. Inhale deeply through your nose and into the deepest part of the lungs. Be sure to expand your ribcage back and sides. Now place your hand on your abdomen and blow all of your air out through your mouth with a little force as if you were blowing through a straw. You should feel your muscles contract. Now all you have to do is put that all together while practicing the specific exercise and you are set. When done the right way, with the correct technique, Pilates is not easy no matter how strong or how much of an athlete you think you are.
Pilates has been around for over 100 years. The science is there it just works. As Joseph Pilates said himself ” you will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.