Pilates offers a variety of benefits to your body and overall health, including bodily alignment, posture and endurance. It also will work out your core.
According to a study from 2016, doing Pilates for eight weeks improves abdominal endurance, flexibility, and balance.
Pilates classes can be found at Y’s across the nation, so it will be easy to get to a class with your nationwide membership.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise, which helps you strengthen your muscles, improve posture, flexibility and mobility. The motions you perform in class will focus on your core, but will benefit other body areas as well. You will focus on slow movements done with precision to maximize the benefit to your body.
You don’t have to have any special equipment for basic Pilates. Although, some equipment is used for certain classes.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates. Being ill when he was young, he decided to make himself healthy. He became a bodybuilder, studied anatomy and other forms of exercise. Also, he studied Eastern forms of exercise, including Tai-Chi, martial arts and yoga.
He became a trainer and continued to study and refine his methods for personal fitness. Eventually, his methods gained popularity and today his exercises are performed all over the world.
Types of classes
There are two kinds of Pilates classes: mat classes and reformer classes.
In a mat class, which uses a mat similar to a yoga mat, but a little thicker. It helps to cushion your body as you’re doing certain movements.
In a reformer class, they use an exercise machine that has a sliding platform, stationary foot bar and pulleys.
Both types of classes focus on the same areas of your body and results. In a reformer class, you’re merely using a machine to leverage resistance instead of your body weight/gravity.
There are other workouts that were inspired by Pilates. However, many gyms that offer classes will just refer to them as ‘pilates’ or ‘reformer pilates’.
More about Pilates
In Pilates class, you’re working several groups of muscles. Specifically, the trunk of you body, which includes abdominal muscles, hips, inner and outer thighs, and your back.
The movements will include using other muscles, as well. So, expect that you’ll be working your whole body.
What to expect in Pilates class
In many classes (especially beginners), you will focus on the same group of exercises each time. This repetition builds familiarity and, eventually, mastery of the movements.
Some common moves include:
- The Hundred – A breathing exercise that also targets core strength and stability
- Roll up – A slow, precise move that stretches the spine and the back of the body and strengthens the abdominal muscles
- Leg circles – Used to strengthen the hips and core stabilizers
- Rolling like a ball – Used to massage the spine and opens up the back
- Series of 5 – A group of moves that strengthen the abdominal and back muscles
Before your first class
Goals – Your goal should be to learn the movements and focus on precision. Make sure you take your time.
You’ll feel it – Your muscles will burn while you’re doing the exercise. And, the next day, you’ll most likely feel it.
Clothing – Wear form fitting clothing and rubber-detailed socks. For pants, consider capris, leggings or training pants.
Help – Seek out regular attendees of Pilates to get additional insight, tips and help with any terminology.
Learn from others – Put yourself in the middle of the room so you can see other class members.