Pilates is a workout system designed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s that was originally intended to help rehabilitate veterans after Word War I. It ended up being used by more women who noticed that men were getting more toned and leaner after doing their pilates workouts. Pilates focuses on engaging the muscles of the trunk, core in order to strenghten core muscles. Pilates uses controlled breathing exercises in order to focus the inhalation and exhalation on the work that the body is doing in order to focus energy and attention on them.
Pilates uses controlled, precise movements to tone, lengthen and strengthen the limbs but without the impact that spinning or cardio would have. Pilates mat classes are even less taxing on the joints such as the standing poses in yoga since they are not weight bearing on the legs but instead the core muscles such as the obliques and the abdominals are called on to do most of the engagement and lifting. There are series of repetitive movements that combine with controlled breathing exercises in order to maximize isometric toning and strengthening.
Pilates is ideal when combined with another cardio workout such as running, spinning or biking. Some pilates classes also use small weights which help to furthen strengthen weak or atrophied muscles.
Some pilates classes use a reformer which is ideal for beginners or for people with little body awareness. The reformer is a safer way for a beginner to learn pilates since the reformer machine limits the kind of movements you can do. The reformer is usually only available for the more boutique studios or for private sessions since there usually aren't that many machines available at a pilates studio. You want to make sure to learn to use a pilates reformer at a pilates studio under the supervision of a trained and experienced teacher.
You want to make sure to not let children play on the reformer machine which will be tempting for them since it looks like a jungle gym or something that kids can play on. If you feel pain or discomfort then you need to stop the movement or modify the movement so there is no pain. Notify your instructor so they can give you a modified pose. Adjust your expectations for your first few sessions especially if you are out of shape and have not worked out in a while. The other students or the instructors have been doing pilates for years if not decades and they are going to be more fluid when they are doing the poses.
Amy Backer the owner of Bodylogic Pilates - http://www.bodylogicpilates.com She earned her BFA degree in Dance at the University of Colorado and her teaching certificate from the internationally renowned PILATES Center of Boulder in 2002. In 2009, she completed Body Language, a 200 hr anatomy study with Thomas Myers, the author of Anatomy Trains. Andrea s also a Zero Balancing practitioner certification candidate.
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