What is Pilates?
Pilates is a system of more than 500 exercises developed by Joseph Pilates over the course of his lifetime that challenges and conditions the body as a whole. Using his own body to experiment, Joseph Pilates created a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, balance, breath and creates long, lean muscles. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening the core muscles (the abdomen, back and pelvic girdle) through smooth, continuous motion and powerful, muscular breath. The focus is on quality of movement rather than quantity of repetitions, which helps to train the body more efficiently and effectively, leaving you feeling invigorated and energized after your practice.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
Some, but by no means all, of the effects you can experience with a regular Pilates practice are:
* Improved strength, flexibility and balance
* Relief from back pain
* Corrected postural alignment
* Toned, lean muscles
* Enhanced body awareness (proprioception)
* Reduced risk of injury due to body awareness and core strength
* Recovery from injury or surgery
* A stronger, more flexible spine
* Increased joint range of motion
* Improved circulation
* Correction of bad physical habits and/or over-training of muscle groups
* Enhanced mobility, agility and stamina
* Improved sports performance through cross-training
* Development of functional fitness for daily life
What's the difference between mat and equipment Pilates?
Both mat and equipment Pilates apply the same fundamental principles of core strength and stability, just in different ways:
* Mat classes are usually done in a group setting using only mats and your own body weight to strengthen and condition the body. Mat classes are a fun, fast-paced way to practice Pilates and are a moderately priced alternative to private sessions.
* Equipment sessions are ideally performed one-on-one and can involve any number of apparatus and props. Joseph Pilates designed special apparatus to further enhance the mat exercises he had already developed and to make them accessible to people recovering from injuries. These various equipment pieces such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair incorporate light spring resistance that works concentric and eccentric muscle contractions to safely sculpt, tone and stretch the muscles under the guidance of a certified trainer. This weighted resistance enables more detailed, form-specific work making it ideal for its original purpose as physical therapy work, and of course it also provides an excellent, challenging workout for any healthy body as well.
How often should I do Pilates?
Ideally you should aim for 2-4 times a week, whether in mat classes, equipment classes or private sessions. This kind of regular, consistent practice will help develop muscle memory more quickly and enable you to integrate the various Pilates principles. But don't be intimidated by a big time commitment--any Pilates is better than no Pilates!
Will I lose weight through Pilates?
Although Pilates can be a vigorous workout, it is not a cardiovascular workout, therefore burning calories is not its main focus. Pilates exercises help strengthen, sculpt and tone the body while building long, lean muscles. Whether the number on the scale goes down or not, you will look and feel better through a continued Pilates practice.
Will I be sore after my session?
Pilates doesn't aim to fatigue the muscles to exhaustion, instead it uses changing movement patterns, mental focus and muscle memory to build strength and awareness into the body. Therefore Pilates leaves you feeling more energized than exhausted. Muscle pain is caused by lactic acid build-up in the muscle, improper stretching, or tearing of the muscles. By emphasizing quality over quantity and loading the muscles in the lengthening, eccentric contraction, Pilates doesn't usually lead to severe soreness. The “no pain, no gain” exercise philosophy has no place in Pilates--Joseph Pilates figured out that an exercise doesn't have to be painful to be effective, therefore his exercises work directly with the deepest muscles in the body, developing strength without the pain associated with conventional exercise.
What should I wear?
Your comfort is most important, but a few guidelines help:
* The tighter the better-- close-fitting clothes allow the trainer to see what your body is doing, therefore enabling more specific, focused corrections.
* No shoes are necessary, whether you wear socks or bare feet is entirely up to you.
* Men: if you wear shorts to your session/class, bike shorts are advised underneath.