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Pilates: All about the Core

Never given Pilates a try? It may be time.

Wish you had better posture, increased flexibility, or more balance? Then Pilates may be for you. Developed in the early 1900s, Pilates is named after its creator, Joseph Pilates. A form of exercise that emphasizes development of the core muscles, Pilates does more than work your core. It gives you a full-body workout.

The goal of Pilates is simple: to make everyday life activities easier. It does this by increasing strength and teaching proper body movements and encouraging deep breathing exercises.

Not sure how to get started with Pilates? Don’t be intimidated. While it can provide a challenging workout for seasoned athletes, the exercises are easily adapted to your fitness level. If you’re a newbie in the world of Pilates, here’s what you need to know.

What Is It?

A Pilates routine will lead you through a series of low-impact exercises. Each aims to increase your core strength, endurance, and stability, while teaching you correct breathing.

Throughout the workout you’re encouraged to maintain proper posture and practice healthy ways of moving your body. In essence, Pilates combines strength training and flexibility exercises. As such, it’s a great addition to your weekly workout program.

A few Pilates exercises use special equipment. Most, however, require nothing more than the floor and an exercise mat. It’s also safe for any age or stage of life. Just talk with your doctor beforehand if you’re pregnant or new to exercise.
If you go with a Pilates class, talk with your instructor beforehand. Discuss any health conditions or injuries you may have. Let the instructor know your goals. Then start off slowly, gradually increase the intensity as you get the hang of things. Since correct form is key to avoiding injury and reaping the exercises’ benefits, make sure you’re supervised by a knowledgeable instructor.

Why Do It?

Now that you know what it is, why try it out?

Protection. Pilates is known for strengthening your core. It builds strong muscles from your head to your pelvis, ultimately making everyday movements easier and safer. With a strong core, you’re also less likely to suffer injury.

Posture. People who practice Pilates are known for having good posture. Again this is due to a strong core. It’s also the result of properly aligned muscles that are well-balanced, so they’re not too loose or too tight. With proper posture and a strong core, you’re less likely to suffer back, neck, or shoulder pain.

Breathing. A key part of a Pilates routine is learning proper breathing techniques through the movements. Do this and you’ll enjoy a number of perks. You’ll have more energy, greater lung capacity, improved circulation, and more feel-good hormones. Combine all of these perks and they add up to stress relief.

Circulation. Like other forms of exercise, Pilates increases your circulation. Thanks to this, your immune system gets a boost. Want more benefit? Increased circulation leads to improved cognitive function. So you can think faster and better.

Balance. Pilates also increases your mobility, flexibility, and balance. Do Pilates often, and your muscles move easier and you have increased range of motion. This reduces the risk of falls and injury and makes everyday activities easier.
Bones. Because it’s a strength training form of exercise that works against the resistance of your own bodyweight, Pilates is good for your bones. Building and strengthening bone density helps reduce your chance of developing osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.

Performance. Some turn to Pilates as a way to improve your sports performance. And why not? It’s a full-body workout that trains and strengthens muscles in a balanced and safe way that is remarkably challenging. There’s one more perk. With more than 600 exercises and variations in the Pilates repertoire, you won’t get bored anytime soon.