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December 2, 2010 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Pilates: The Basics

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

As one of the fastest growing exercise methods in the country, Pilates has certainly gained a lot of attention over the past few years. The reasons for its success are based on the main objectives the routine accomplishes. Pilates focuses on building strength and conditioning, but it also exercises the mind, in order to maintain the balance needed for your entire body to become healthier. If you have been thinking about starting a Pilates program of your own, here are some starting points to consider.

The Core of Pilates

At the center of the Pilates excitement is the unique approach that is developed around the body's core. The core refers to the middle of the physique, including your abdomen and back muscles. It is responsible for stability and supporting the spine as well as movement of the body in general. When your core is strengthened, your body's movements become more efficient and the stress placed on your back is lowered. This makes it especially appropriate for recovery training from a back injury. Not surprisingly, Pilates was first designed to specifically assist people in their rehabilitation efforts.

The Principles of Pilates

Pilates separates itself from other forms of exercise by utilizing the quality of movements instead of the quantity of them. Fewer repetitions and more concentration on maximizing each individual movement contribute to the overall effectiveness of each exercise. In order to understand the inner-workings of Pilates, it is helpful to become familiar with some of the principles it follows.

Centering, concentration, and control are blended together to provide a completely streamlined workout. It is essential that every movement is done with full control and precision, another one of Pilate's principles. Breathing is also a major part of the exercises, and long, deep breaths are incorporated along with the techniques in a coordinated manner. Plus, there are no sudden or abrupt motions in Pilates, and graceful, smooth, transitions from one point to the next lead to the last principle, the flow.

Pilates Language and Equipment

Before you dive into a Pilates routine, you should know the language that is used to refer to parts of the body and equipment.

  • The Powerhouse: The "powerhouse" is another name for the body's core or midsection, extending from the bottom of the ribs to the abdomen and hips.
  • Pilates Stance: Lying on your back and bringing up your legs together will put you in the "Pilates stance."
  • Neutral Spine and Pelvis: Several exercises begin with a "neutral spine" or the "neutral pelvis" position, which takes place when the spine, pelvis, and hip bones are on the same plane.
  • Magic Circle: Pilates equipment also features its own exclusive names, such as the "magic circle," a metal ring with padded handles to add resistance when toning the thighs, chest, arms, and hips.
  • Reformer: The "Reformer" has a moving carriage, springs, and a frame that supports multiple positions. Mats can be used in place of the Reformer for a more stationary workout.
  • Fitness Balls: Fitness balls, also used frequently in Pilates, bring the attention back to the stability of the core. You can really feel the effects of the ball when it is held between your ankles during certain exercises.

Similar to any new type of workout, it is recommended to check with your doctor and begin slowly with Pilates. Having an instructor, either privately or in a class, is a safe option. Currently, athletes, dancers, and people of all ages are enjoying the incredible results from performing Pilates on a regular basis. And the numbers look like they will keep on growing in the future!

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/36350.php

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/yoga-pilates-tai-chi/how-yoga-helps-back

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-exercises/SM00071

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