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Pilates

Pilates has gained immense popularity in the past several years as a great way to stay in shape and do exercise. Because of the lack of equipment necessary it is easy for many people to begin Pilates in their own home. All you need is one of the great mats available, some basic bands, and some basic Pilates instruction.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Pilates resources. We have a Pilates forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Pilates how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Pilates books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Why Pilates?


Originally used to rehabilitate bedridden patients during World War I, Pilates has now become a popular form of exercise for dancer, gymnasts, and even some of the top Hollywood actors. Pilates is essentially a body conditioning routine that boosts overall fitness of mind and body. The Pilates method comprises of different mat exercises or those that require equipment to strengthen body muscles and toning. One reason why people are so attracted to this form of exercise is that it can be used to enhance flexibility, endurance and co-ordination without increasing muscle bulk. Also used widely to build up the ‘powerhouse’ of the body or ‘torso’, people doing plates regularly are too happy with the health benefits they derive from it. It increases blood circulation and women are inspired to do Pilates to get their bodies back in shape. What more! Those who do Pilates exercises regularly are less prone to injury and usually have a better posture as well. With myriad of benefits that come with Pilates, it’s not difficult to guess why Pilates is gaining so much popularity. We owe a lot to Joseph H. Pilates, the founder of the Pilates exercise method, who was influenced by other exercising methods across the world including Yoga and Chinese martial arts. He strongly believed that there is a strong connection between mental and physical health and therefore developed the Pilates method that was aimed at improving overall health. If you are keen on learning the Pilates style of exercising, this article can help you get started on this healthy and invigorating hobby.




Getting started


From couch potatoes to fitness freaks, Pilates is for everyone who has a passion for exercise. As a Pilates enthusiast, you can choose to do Pilates in the form of mat exercises that are quite popular and all you need is a bit of training and a floor mat to get started. On the other hand, Pilates can also be done using different machines that help you to tone your body using the principle of resistance.


Due to the ever-increasing popularity of Pilates, there are plenty of classes out there that can help you learn the Pilates techniques. If mat work is what you are looking for, you will come across several fitness centers and YMCAs that offer Pilates classes for beginners. Another option is to attend private classes offered by Pilates instructors that usually combine both mat work and machine work to give you the best results. In case you are planning to join a health club that gives you an access to Pilates machines, make sure that you exercise under the guidance of a qualified Pilates instructor who can teach you the right method of doing each exercise.


Although Pilates classes are springing up everywhere, you need to choose one carefully. Agreed, Pilates is hot and you just can’t wait to start off in one of the classes in your neighborhood. But the sad part of some of these classes is that they provide inadequate instruction. In an effort to cash in on the popularity of Pilates, many gymnasiums and health centers send their staff to attend weekend courses and later claim of having qualified personal trainers who can teach Pilates. The fact is that they are not qualified and learning Pilates from such trainers can lead to injury. The best way is to find a trainer who is certified by a group that is known for offering extensive and rigorous training programs for Pilates. With so much of training, these trainers become a Pilates expert in the true sense. Pilates trainers can even modify the exercises just to make sure that novices can learn it easily without getting hurt.


When following the Pilates mat program, you need to perform one exercise after the other in a set sequence that Joseph Pilates had designed. While beginners are required to do only certain basic exercises, those undergoing advanced training are given exercises that require advanced positioning.


To get the most out of your Pilates workout, you need to do it the right way at the right time. Follow these simple tips and enjoy the most rejuvenating experience following a Pilates workout.


Staying focused is the key – It’s important that you synchronize your breathing rhythm with the body movements and this can be achieved through various techniques that are taught by qualified instructors. They also teach you to concentrate on muscles and as such on every exercise you are doing in order to unite your mind and body. This will alleviate stress and anxiety keeping your body fit and strong at the same time. Staying focused is critical for the getting the most out of Pilates exercises.


Wear comfortable clothes – As any other form of exercise, Pilates enthusiasts also need to choose their clothes wisely and ideally go for the ones that are of a comfortable fit. Most prefer to wear shorts or tights along with a tank top or T-shirt to be able to attain the right postures required in Pilates exercising method. Pilates does not allow you to wear shoes while exercising. Stop exercising if there is pain or discomfort.


Maintain a rhythm – Its pointless to perform Pilates exercises if your movements are quick and jerky. Although movements need to be strong, you must ensure that they are slow and seem almost like a dance. This is how Joseph Pilates wanted it to be when he worked with dancers before designing the movements that are known everywhere as Pilates exercises today.


The best part about Pilates exercising is that you don’t have to sweat if you don’t want to however, you can speed up the exercises to attain the require heart rate. Pilates is all about strength and flexibility, and you can therefore pair it with an aerobic form of exercise of your choice to get the best results. Many Pilates enthusiasts have combined their Pilates exercise regime with swimming or brisk walking for better health and fitness.


Pilates is extremely popular because of its diversity. For many, the idea of doing fewer repetitions of several exercises is far more appealing than doing lots of repetitions of fewer exercises that makes the whole ordeal very monotonous. Joseph Pilates wanted to promote an exercising method that people could do on their own once they received formal training from an expert Pilates trainer. This gave them the much-needed freedom to follow an exercise routine that could be done anywhere anytime.


 




Continuing


Oh yes, hobbies, who wouldn’t just love to be lost in his/her world of hobbies, doing something they just love, following their passions and spending their spare time in some sort of recreational pursuit. Yeah, that’s what all hobbies are about and it’s always good to have one too if you have nothing else on your agenda. There are so many things that you can take up as a hobby, flying kites (may be not), collecting stamps and coins, photography, etc. And if you’re one of those who’re like the outdoor kind of guys, hobbies like hiking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, nature trailing, cycling, etc. may simply seem to be perfect. And then of course, there are those hobbies that could help you physically and mentally as well. Where are we going with all of this? These few exceptional hobbies that would help in the overall development of individuals would include names like yoga, martial arts, Pilates, etc. Previously, we had discussed about Pilates, i.e., its history, its uses, its effects, the requirements, etc., which is nothing but a basic picture of what Pilates was all about. Now, we’ll simply turn this topic about Pilates up a notch and go on in detail explaining the advantages of this activity and its progression through the ages.


As a hobby, Pilates is perhaps the best thing that you can choose because remember, it’s not just a hobby, it’s also a way to lose some of that extra flab that you have been carrying along all these years. I mean lets admit it, with the current busy schedules that we all have, the reason for the excess “junk in the trunk” is simply because of poor metabolism rates. If this continues, we’re all bound to be led to obesity which by the way is inevitable, unless you plan on doing something about it. The trick is that you have to get yourself to change your metabolism rate and what better way than “pilates”. But hey, don’t get us wrong now, we’re NOT asking you to take up this activity as a regime of some sort. On the contrary, the best way to do this would be do advocate Pilates as you very own hobby. Besides, once you get into this fitness system and view it as a hobby at the same time, you will surely find some time to give away for this workout system-turned-hobby of yours.


We all know that feeling when you’re dreaming of simply reaching out to that perfect chocolate filled cookie in the jar, which has the perfect amount of chocolate chips in it and before you know it, you’re already there relishing away the cookie with your taste buds giving you the ultimate satisfaction that you had craved for in the first place. What could be better than using our own mind to control our muscles? This simply means that Pilates is nothing but training the mind effectively through certain movements thereby teaching the human body how to move correctly, where every movement is choreographed to perfection. Sounds pretty enticing, doesn’t it? Having Pilates as a hobby could be a great decision not just with respect to investing your time, which could be a boon for your physical development, but also to calm your mind. C’mon, wouldn’t you just love to have your favorite Pistachio ice cream and not giving a damn about the calories you’re taking in? That’s because regular Pilates practice takes care of all those worries. Just a normal set of Pilates a day and you’re on your way towards a healthy lifestyle and getting all of this simply with a hobby, that’s just a bargain that you cannot ignore.


Pilates is definitely evolving, ever since Joseph Pilates invented this fitness system way back in the early 20th century. And all thanks to him, now we’ve got what I’d like to call “Pilates hybrids” which simply mean other activities combined with Pilates to make the whole Pilates concept a bit different. However, that doesn’t mean that Pilates is turning faces against its religious followers. One thing to remember in this respect is that no matter what, Pilates form the core of these “other” activities. Let’s look at some of them, shall we? Starting off with “Yogilates” which by the sound of it itself gives you an idea that it’s nothing but a blend of yoga and pilates. This was designed by a Pilates instructor who was also a yoga practitioner. This method promises to provide an individual with a rather complete exercise regime with the same benefits that yoga and Pilates tend to provide, but in this case, providing them together for better results. In Yogilates, the practitioner starts off the class with the simple mat exercises with poses ranging from stances in Pilates to yoga slowly progressing to more challenging poses.


So many celebrities are out there that swear by the benefits of Pilates. And speaking of celebrities and Pilates, how can we possibly forget Tangolates? Sure, we all know that the singer Sting is all into this technique but what exactly is it? All it does is blend the methods used in Pilates and Tango, yes, Tango, moving in a distinct way to the tunes of tango music in the background. But this requires a partner just as in the tango that differs exponentially from the concept used otherwise in case of Pilates. It is truly an inspired version of our modern day Pilates technique. Gravity Pilates is another form that utilizes “gravity” as a form of resistance under training. This basically means that your body is also used as resistance for training purposes thereby providing you an intense workout for strength, stretching and endurance training.


So there you have it, but the thing we’d like to stress on is that Pilates is the core of all of the above-mentioned variations, so why not take it up as a hobby? Exercises like the double leg stretch and all could make your abdominal muscles really strong and all of this achieved with the help of a hobby, what more could you ask for?