Pilates has been the choice of exercise for dancers, athletes and Hollywood actors for decades, and it seems that everyone is interested in, or is already doing Pilates, from seniors to women who want to reclaim their body after pregnancy, to those going through physical rehabilitation. Pilates is an adaptable and safe workout that focuses on improving flexibility, endurance, coordination, balanced and the overall well being of the body by strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen and back, through a series of control movements.
History of Pilates
In the early 20th century when Pilates was first introduced, the fitness system was based on six original principals, namely concentration, control, center, flow, precision and breathing. It was designed by physical-culturist Joseph Pilates of Mönchengladbach, Germany, who believed that mental and physical health are inter-related and that his method, which is founded on core strength, uses the mind to control the muscles; he called his method ‘Contrology’, (from control and the Greek word λoγία – logia). The method was originally geared to the few who practiced in specialized studios, but over the years Pilates made its way into community centers, gyms and physiotherapy rooms. Today the method has been adapted in different ways and has produced a number of forms such as the Menezes Method and Stott Pilates and hybrid practices such as the Yogilates practice.
Unlike other systems, Pilates emphasizes quality over quantity and the exercise routine does not include a lot of repetitions for each of the movements. Instead, exercise routine is done with precision, and it usually produces significant results in a shorter time. In addition to improving overall mental and physical well-being, Pilates promotes flexibility and the creation of strength without bulk, increases blood circulation and energy, it promotes weight loss and coordination of body, mind and spirit, it promotes bone density and soothes osteoarthritis pain, it reduces susceptibility to injuries, it addresses back pain and it improves posture.
Mat Work and Equipment
Pilates exercises are done either on a mat on the floor, or on different machines, developed by Joseph Pilates. Most people focus on the mat exercises which are designed so that the body uses its own weight as resistance.
Pilates during Pregnancy
A good reason for choosing Pilates during pregnancy is that Pilates can be modified as your body and ability change. Another reason is that Pilates helps you tone your abdominal, back and pelvic muscles which will support a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. However, instead of working on your own, it is best to join a pre-natal class (check first with your doctor/midwife), where a prenatal certified instructor will help you adjust your workout, particularly if you have not worked before with the basics of Pilates.
For the most part, prenatal Pilates is not intensive, but because your energy levels will be changing, you need to pace yourself, and you need to pay attention to the signals that your body is sending you. For example if you are gasping for air and can’t talk normally, you body is telling you that it is time to take a break. You will know that is time to quit all together when you feel dizzy, or nauseous, when your heart is racing, you have a headache, you have any signs of contractions, you are bleeding, or you develop ‘diastasis’ (a condition where there is a separation of the abdominal muscles). Also, because your center of gravity will shift as your baby grows, you need to be cautious and make sure you don’t overstretch when you are getting on, or off the reformer, or getting up and down the mat to avoid muscle and ligament strains, something common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that make joints and muscles vulnerable. Finally, when you are into your trimester it will be time to eliminate sharp percussive movements from your workout, for example vigorous sidekicks.
Celebrities and sports icons devoted to Pilates
Just a few of the celebrities and sports icons that are devoted to Pilates exercise include Jennifer Aniston, Cindy Crawford, Madonna, British singer-songwriter and musician Rod Stewart, Brendan Bradshaw, Principal Dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Czech American tennis player Martina Navratalova, American figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, American international swimmer and a twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres and The Cleveland Indians.
With so many celebrities choosing Pilates it must mean something. At Symmetrical Personal Training we never have more than 10 people at each session. This ensures that you will receive the personalized attention that you desire! We also offer private Pilates classes.