The Benefits of Pilates
While Pilates has been around for some time, the workout has had an air of mystique that can prevent a newbie from giving it a try. Maybe it’s the equipment, the terminology, or even the idea that this is for ballerinas. But at The Definery, I am about truth-telling, and I’m here to demystify and share some of the benefits around pilates.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a series of movements designed to cultivate core strength through postural alignment, and fiercely focused movement. Depending on the class you take, the equipment used can range from the simplicity of a mat to resistance bands to the more complex bed-like reformer with its straps and springs. But don’t let simplicity deceive: the mat - and using your own bodyweight as resistance - can be the real truth-tellers of strength and push you harder than you might imagine. (Full disclosure: many of the classes at The Definery focus on the mat format.)
Sounds simple, right? The good news for readers: the benefits of Pilates belie its simplicity.
Benefit #1: Pilates is a workout for anyone
There is a common misconception out there that pilates is for dancers only, but much of this is rooted in how Pilates gained notoriety throughout the 20th century. Its founder, Joseph Pilates, brought the practice of pilates to New York where it became popular with many dancers at the New York City Ballet who felt it improved their dancing. And yet, the development of pilates goes even further back. In the early 1900s, during World War I, when Joseph Pilates developed many of the pilates exercises for injured and bed-ridden veterans. As it turns out, strengthening and stretching is good for both dancers and injured vets. No matter where you are in your workout journey, you can participate in pilates.
Benefit #2: Pilates cultivates core strength
Yes, you’ll get a solid “ab” workout in (if you haven’t done the Hundreds yet, you will soon know what I mean). But the power of Pilates is also in the quieter “local” muscles of the spine. Pilates does not just strengthen your six-pack. It also works many of the stabilizers muscles that support spinal alignment. The focus of many Pilates movements is in maintaining spinal alignment while simultaneously moving your limbs. This focus ensures that your body is moving in a streamlined way. Many athletes who do Pilates in addition to their other workouts will start to develop a fuller awareness for the connectivity of their core to the rest of their body through a Pilates workout.
Benefit #3: Pilates focuses on a safe and effective workout
Along with postural alignment, a good Pilates workout will teach you to fire muscles very intentionally. Unbeknownst to many of us, we may not be using all of our muscles when we move. Over time, this can leave our bodies imbalanced and compensating with other, overused muscles. Instead, a pilates workout can become invaluable as we age, allowing us to properly support joints and move more freely.
Benefit #4: Pilates contributes to mental health.
This isn’t a new headline - working out is good for your mental health. And pilates follows that same line. Like yoga, pilates incorporates breath into the workout; the ability to focus on a few repetitions of each movement can be incredibly calming.
The benefits of pilates greatly outweigh the requirements to get started. Often, a seasoned Pilates teacher and a mat is all you need.
Benefit #5: A Pilates workout can happen in the comfort of your home.
If you’re wanting to keep your fitness and wellness goals despite global events, then join me. I’m offering a pilates-inspired boot camp online this spring, starting March 30. Join me!
Interested in experiencing the benefits of pilates? Sign-up for Clare’s video classes. If you refer a friend, you can save 10%. Email Clare at Riordanhealthandwellness@gmail.com for details.