“Never in history have more time and money been expended to attain normal physical perfection than in the present era.”
-Joseph Pilates, 1934
Today, people suffer from too much stress, sedentary lifestyles, attempt a quick fitness fix, or try to put their whole fitness program in a few poorly thought out workouts a week.
What is Pilates?
Simply speaking, it is a specific series of exercises that address the body as a whole, including the breath, nervous system, alignment, balance, and attention to how the muscles move and stabilize the joints. Most people know Pilates for its exceptional development of the core. However, there’s more! A functional core is more than hard abdominals and a “six-pack”. A functional core includes the abdominal muscles as well as several others. The ability to appropriately move the spine as well as stabilize it while moving the extremities is part of having a functional core.
Who Benefits from Pilates?
Everyone! For those just beginning an exercise program, Pilates can help them find strength and awareness they may never have had before, or lost over time. People who spend time in office settings can counter the effects of sitting in front of a computer with rounded shoulders, tight hip flexors, and sagging abdominals. The elite athlete can improve their performance by balancing muscles used repetitively in their chosen sport. And finally, everyone benefits by changing poor movement patterns into more efficient ones. Pilates is truly a cross training for life!
What’s Different About Pilates?
Joseph Pilates developed his method with the goal of promoting “true health”. This he defined as “the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body”, including the mind and the spirit within the body. There are principles applied to performing the Pilates exercises to achieve the goals of a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Three Ways to Train
Private Training. Get the maximum benefit and quicker results with one-on-one training.
Pilates Class Series. A blend of both private and group formats. Work progressively with a small group for a set session of weeks.
Weekly Classes. Drop-in on a weekly class to get a budget-friendly Pilates workout in!
The Principles of Pilates
- Concentration and awareness. You must focus your attention on specifics of the movements to be aware of the whole picture. Performing with awareness helps you be alert to your surroundings and move with more confidence and grace.
- Developing the core. A strong core supports and decompresses the spine, supports the internal organs, promotes healthy breathing, and gives you better control over all your movements thereby improving posture, grace, and balance.
- Precise Control. Doing the movements with precise control teaches your muscles to respond better to the mind’s instructions. This conscious control helps the body to develop better movement patterns and habits and helps you to recognize the ineffective or even harmful ones.
- Flowing natural movement. As you learn the exercises, you develop your moment coordinating it with the breath to create more ease in the movements. This re-education of the body-mind connection carries over into other activities.
- Oppositional energy. With this skill, you are visualizing that two opposing parts of the body are stretching apart during a particular position or movement, and the muscles respond with the appropriate stretch. For example, picture the opposite ends of the spine stretching apart to help decompress the vertebrae. The idea of oppositional energy engages both the muscles used for lengthening and the opposing muscles used to stabilize or resist that pull.
- Proper breathing. Breathing well is a skill we don’t think about because we do it automatically. In Pilates training, all of the muscles used for breathing are exercised as specifically as the rest of the muscles. Did you know that many of the muscles that participate in breathing also affect our posture?
What are Some Results One Can Expect?
There are numerous results, some of which that are already listed above. Just a few of them are listed as follows:
- Connection of the Body, Mind, and Spirit. Much exercise promotes a body/mind split. Think of watching television while you work out as an example. There is not much awareness and attention paid to what the body is doing. It performs on autopilot, usually re-enforcing poor movement habits while continuing to overdevelop already overworked muscles and neglecting the underworked ones.
- Uniform development. Pilates is not for building big muscles. It’s a conditioning program that brings the body back to a more healthy form of function that carries over into other life activities. The body becomes an orchestra where the muscles are the instruments playing together in a symphony instead of as musical instruments playing separately in discordance.
- Proper breathing. Everyone can feel the difference when sitting for long periods breathing shallowly compared to taking a few deep refreshing breaths. Remember that breathing well helps to cleanse the system. Even our breathing muscles become out of shape.
These are just a very few of the benefits and results you can expect from Pilates. We hope you can join us at Castle Hill Fitness and reap your own benefits from Pilates. We have classes appropriate for everyone, and private sessions are available to help you get the most from your experience.