Many people swear by pilates, and honestly it might be of the best exercises you aren't doing. Pilates is an effective and simple form of body-weight resistance training, known for its postural and core-conditioning benefits. If you're a beginner and looking to be more graceful, toned, and strong, here's your guide to pilates.
Pilates Mat vs. Equipment
First it's important to note that there are two main types of pilates. Mat-based pilates focuses on body-weight exercises with the use of iron ring or resistance bands. You can find these classes in a variety of gyms and sports clubs, as it's highly recommended for beginners. Starting with mat work first allows you to focus your learning on how to control your muscles during the exercises, while it will help tone your body and improve your strength, posture, and flexibility. Then you can add reformer work or pilates using equipment after about three months of classes. Equipment-based pilates uses the reformer, barrel ladder, tower, trapeze, or pilates chair and is more specialized, only being found at pilates studios themselves.
Pilates Classes & Principles
Now you're probably wondering exactly what to expect at a pilates class. The pilates system of exercise is based on six principles: Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breath, and Flow. Thus, each exercise and class cater to these fundamentals. In order to move freely, it's wise to wear non-restricting and comfortable clothing. You'll be barefoot and all the necessary equipment will be provided for you, as the class is always led by a professional so you'll know exactly what to do. Your first class will be gentle and you'll go over the above principles to ease into it and learn the basics. Be sure to ask questions, and know that practice makes perfect. You will make faster progress if you practice what is learned in class at home and attend classes on a weekly basis. You may not feel anything during the workout, but you'll definitely feel sore the day after. Be sure to rest and take care of yourself so you're prepared for your next class!
Benefits of Pilates
With a greater understanding of what pilates is, you should also be aware of the all the benefits it brings. Besides improving posture and flexibility as mentioned earlier, you'll be improving your balance, body awareness, mobility, and overall sports performance. You'll notice your posture start to get better, which can relieve back pain, and increase your core strength and stability. Pilates also helps you develop long and lean muscles, which can enhance functional fitness and strength. Pilates are great because it's customizable to suit all fitness levels, and you can combine it with any other exercise you love. Are you thinking about starting it now?