A Beginner's Guide to Pilates

pilatesWhat is pilates?

If you think Pilates is a name from the bible then you have been hiding under a rock the last few years. Pilates or Proximal Integrating Latent Agile Toning Exercise is a fast growing exercise that has captured the interest of Hollywood celebrities to the ordinary man on the street.

Pilates is a cross between yoga, stretching and calisthenics. It is not a cardiovascular activity so if you may have to add aerobics or machine workout to your Pilates regimen.

Benefits of pilates

Pilates aims to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. It stretches and strengthens your body. It will make your body more flexible. It is different from yoga as Pilates is much more dynamic. It pushes the body to more positions thus your balance, strength and stability are pushed to the limit.

Other benefits to the Pilates workout is weight loss, increased energy levels and physically feeling good about yourself. It is a gentle workout so it is ideal for those recovering from injury, pregnant women and the elderly.

How pilates work?

If you’ve been sold to the Pilates lifestyle then you may think about joining your local gym for some lessons. There are many different types of Pilates classes. Some of them will use equipment but mostly you will need a mat. If you do not want to enroll in a gym, Pilates can be easily done at home. Just buy a few videos and you are set for your workout. However it would be wise to enroll in a few classes just to get the basic exercises right.

Pilates exercises and positions can be difficult to master. You could also injure yourself if you don’t know the right position as well as not meeting your fitness goals. Most of the Pilates exercises can be changed for your skill level and body type. To get you started here are a few tips on having an effective Pilates workout.

Set-up. Pilates can be done in any flat surface large enough for you to move around. Ideally you should find a spot that is quiet without much distractions. Your exercise shouldn’t be put off for another day if you can’t find that spot. Anywhere would do. A mat is a very welcome investment if you are going to be working on a hard surface. Most Pilates mats are thicker than yoga mats. If you can’t afford the mat a carpet will do.

Clothing
. Loose and comfortable clothes are the norm for any exercise program. Your instructor may require you to wear a tank top and pants to see if you are doing the exercise right. Buy a lot of socks since most of the Pilates exercises are done without shoes.

Equipment. You can do hundreds of beginner workouts on a mat alone but for the advanced Pilates student you can purchase several specialized equipment. The Pilates reformer, chairs and resistance bands all add to your Pilates workout Additional equipment for Pilates are inflatable balls and bars. Shopping for equipment shouldn’t be a problem. Pilates has moved to the mainstream and the equipment is available in most sports stores for very affordable prices.

Here is one very simple Pilates exercise.

Ballerina Arms

  • Sit cross legged with your back straight as though you are resting  against a wall
  • Bend the elbows at a 90 degree angle to protect the shoulder socket
  • Take the arms back to connect the shoulders
  • Take your arms down so your shoulder blades slide down your spine
  • Raise the bent arms above your head
  • End with your arms in their original position
  • Do this 3 times a day for a week and you will notice a difference in how you walk and sit