Millions of people all over the world are looking to get in shape but they aren’t sure how. A hot trend that is gaining more popularity is Pilates, although many out there are left wondering, what exactly is Pilates and how can a beginner get started?If you’re just hearing about Pilates, you’re probably wondering if this is one of those trends that often gets a lot of publicity, only to fade away within a few years.
Sometimes these trends are basically worthless, but Pilates is a strong workout regimen that gets results and is here to stay. It isn’t new either, it has been around for almost a hundred years, which most people are surprised to hear.
Pilates was created in Germany by a gymnast and rehabilitation expert names Joseph Pilates. And it wasn’t designed just for body builders; Joseph was responsible for creating a quality work out program for soldiers who were returning from war, to help them get back in shape after injury.An important part of his routine was to tie the physical health with the mental well-being of his clients. This was appreciated by the veterans he was helping. His regimen was focused on stretching and gaining strength in your muscles. This tie between the mind and body was named Contrology, the science of letting your mind manage your muscle. Contrology also focuses on your breathing skills to make your muscles stronger.
The Seven Principles of Pilates
There are seven principles that Pilates focuses on, beginning with your Concentration. To be successful in Pilates, you need to understand and be able to focus on your concentration.
Control is also important in Pilates. Pilates is one of the best ways to build muscle and to maintain the control of your muscles, which is often overlooked in workout plans.
Another principle is Centering. Centering is focused on getting your core in shape, which includes the muscles in your back, butt, and hips. This is also sometimes called your powerhouse area. Every bit of energy that is used to do Pilates starts with this core, and extends through your extremities like your arms and legs.
The fourth principle of Pilates is Exactness. Pilates is all about the details, so it isn’t for someone who isn’t able to focus on perfection. Every small detail must be practiced and followed precisely. This makes Pilates very smooth and calming. No moves will require more motion or stress on your body than necessary, as Pilates stresses the exactness of your movement.
Similarly, the fifth principle is your Movement Flow. Pilates encourages you to continue with fluid movement during and in the time between your exercises to help to build your highest possible level of strength.
The next very important principle to Pilates is Alignment- which helps to put your body in the proper position. This is great for your entire body and allows your spine to be in the right position. This will help you get better strengthening results, as well as protect you from unnecessary injuries that often occur when people are beginning to work out.
The last and one of the most important principles is the art of Breathing. This is the one principle that most people who are new to Pilates often forget! (Which can unfortunately, result in injury, or even the embarrassing circumstance of passing out in the middle of your Pilates class). You need to focus on inhaling and exhaling, but fully and in a maintained way. If you are breathing properly, the exercises will be easier because your muscles will have the proper level of oxygen, allowing them to relax and eliminate unnecessary tightness in your back and shoulders. This tightness and stress caused by improper breathing is often what causes injury.
Yoga and Pilates: The Similarities and Differences
A number of people are easily confused by Yoga and Pilates. Although they may seem to fit in the same general family, they are quite different. You should choose which is best for you based on the differences to help you enjoy your workout.Yoga and Pilates are similar because they both encourage a link between your body and your mind. They both encourage you to focus on fluid movement and breathing as well. That is about where the similarities end. Yoga often focuses on more spiritual aspects than Pilates, which appreciates a mind-body link, but puts the emphasis on muscle toning.
Yoga was created in India in ancient times, as opposed to Pilates which was developed in Germany in the twentieth century. Yoga is a way of life for its participants, instead of an exercise program. Yoga encourages you to watch your diet, meditate, and relax.
Pilates is similar in some poses to the ancient Yoga poses. Pilates focuses on getting your muscles groups toned and developing your core strength. While Yoga looks into flexibility, Pilates is more about strengthening the muscles and concentration.
While Pilates and Yoga both focus on your breathing techniques, Yoga recommends different ways to breathe than Pilates. Yoga encourages participants to breathe in and out through the nose, while Pilates encourages you to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
Both are a help to people who are looking to balance their minds and their bodies, as well as getting you in better physical shape. Both Pilates and Yoga aim to allow their participants to be less stressed and have a better mental focus.
So which will you choose? If your primary focus is to relax and eliminate some stress from your life, to calm down and have some quiet time to yourself, or to gain flexibility, Yoga would probably be your best choice.
On the other hand, if you are interested in strengthening your core and other muscle groups, and to get in great shape overall, you may be more interested in Pilates. Pilates generally can burn anywhere from 200 to 400 calories, while Yoga usually only burns from 150- 250 calories per workout.
Whichever you choose, both have significantly positive impact on the body and neither can be deemed as having negative aspects that will affect you. If you are interested in getting into either Pilates or Yoga without making a huge commitment, you can purchase inexpensive DVD’s in stores, or you can sign up for classes at your local gym to see which you feel more strongly about continuing with.
Pilates can help anyone increase their strength. This is clear as many famous movie stars and athletes use Pilates to keep in the best shape that they can be in. Even well-known golfers use Pilates to help strengthen their core muscles, which can help them with stamina as well as improving their swing! It can also help golfers with their balance and stability, and to stabilize their posture and alignment.
Equipment for Pilates
If you are going to go forward with a plan to pursue Pilates, good for you! Now you need to purchase some of the important equipment that you will need to aid in your workouts.First you’ll want to consider the space you have to work with. There is such a huge variety of Pilates equipment to choose from that you should be able to find equipment to fit your space and stay within your budget.
Your most important piece of equipment to get started with Pilates is your mat. There are a variety of mats, so choose one that is the size and comfort level that you prefer.
If you don’t enjoy being at the gym or can’t afford to join one, you’ll be happy to hear that you can do all levels of Pilates right from the comfort of your own home. This is where DVD’s come in handy. Beginning Pilates in your own home can be comforting to many people just starting out. You can also do it at your own pace and on your own time schedules.
Exercise balls and exercise bands can also greatly aid in Pilates. Exercise balls can be used in a variety of workouts, and they are designed of latex or rubber made to hold up to some wear and tear. Most are patterned which allows for you to work out on them even if you are sweaty, so you don’t slip off of them.
If you want to use an exercise band, start with a moderate strength band so it does not pull too terribly on your muscles. After you get stronger and more flexible, you can upgrade to a stronger band to intensify your workout. Both exercise bands and balls are relatively inexpensive and are great additions to your Pilates regimen.
Also keep in mind that if you do not have exercise clothing, this is a good investment for you. You want to choose breathable materials to work out in, that aren’t too tight or too baggy. You want to be comfortable, but your clothing cannot be so loose that it will catch on things or inhibit your workout.
Congratulations on your decision to get started with Pilates. Within just weeks you will begin to feel stronger and healthier, and you will be inspired to do more!