Pilates: A Deep Core Workout That Athletes Do? Well You Can Too!
At the end of World War 1, the son of a German gymnast, and naturopath, inspired by western gymnastics, boxing and wrestling, invented a series of controlled movements to help rehabilitate wounded soldiers.
He theorised that the human mind and body were inexplicably linked. And that mastering this bridge would improve both physical and mental well=being.
If practiced consistently, Joseph Pilate’s (aptly named) new workout, improved flexibility, strength, control and endurance throughout the entire body.
In the 1920s, Joseph and his eventual wife Clara took the method to the USA where it exploded in popularity.
Dancers such as the legendary Martha Graham started using Pilates to better their performances.
Fast forward a century later and over 11 million people practice Joseph Pilate’s principles worldwide.
Pilates is not yoga. Let’s get that out of the way first.
Although similar, Pilates focuses on movements that strengthen your core. Meaning, it is very much a workout. Yoga on the other hand, is more about meditation and relaxation.
Strengthening your core is not a new thing, nor should it be trivialised. Ask any body builder or toned person in a gym and they will tell you how important core strength is.
By holding your “core” muscles, located around the lower spine, pelvis and hips, in different positions for short, controlled movements, not only will you improve your flexibility, stability, strength and endurance, but you will actually be helping to prevent future injury.
How? Well, these super muscles act as stabilisers for the body. Linked to the spine, they are all associated with the body's center of gravity. Which is responsible for balance, stability, posture and much more.
There’s a reason why athletes do Pilates.
As with any physical exertion, there is obviously a strong emphasis on breathing and control. But there’s actually a lot more to it than that. Those actively practicing Pilates follow 9 key principles:
- Postural Alignment
Ultimately, Pilates is known as a muscle-strengthening activity, which can help you maintain a healthy weight if used in conjunction with other exercise, a healthy diet and the right supplements.
Diet & Supplements
Diet plays an integral part of your lifestyle and good fitness and good diet go hand in hand.
A deficiency in certain vital vitamins and supplements could end with a painful end to you workout.
Magnesium is imperative to a good exercise session, even if going to the gym is your main work out. It alleviates pain from muscle overexertion and can relieve involuntary spasms, meaning you can focus more on your form and less on the pain.
If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, it could lead to inflammation and cause more pain and discomfort during your workout. Magnesium relieves spasms and pain caused by over exerting your muscles and keeps you calm and focused while performing the exercises. It’s an important supplement for improving your Pilates exercises and life outside of the gym.
Pilates is one of the most versatile types of exercise, meaning you can do it almost anywhere!
To get started, your main resource will be a standard roll mat. These can be bought at most sports stores or even online. Once you’ve got this, there are countless online videos you can watch to learn the basics, right up to the more advanced, just got to YouTube and type in ‘Pilates For Beginners’ and off you go.
For the more daring of you, your local gym will run regular classes, just ask around and the world of Pilates will be opened up to you.
Once you’re a seasoned expert, or just want to give something new a go, you can start to introduce equipment such as the Reformer and Wunda Chair into your workout.
Give them a Google. They may seem daunting at first but you will pick them up fairly quickly. These apparatus are available to use at most gyms or studios, or if you’re feeling eager, you can also purchase the equipment online.
It’s not just yoga that improves mental health disorders. Pilates is a great mind workout too.
As improving muscle strength and flexibility takes concentration and patience, this in turn helps focus your mind. Controlled breathing has shown to affect the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for sleep and relaxation.
Because there is no competitive element (you do it at your own pace), Pilates is a great way to reduce stress and unwind.
Pilates is a great way to de-stress and focus your mind, while also getting a great work out, so it’s a win win situation.
By following this guide, you’ll be running the 100m final in no time!
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