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Pilates: everything you need to know

One of the most popular class for those who are looking for ways to improve their posture, breathing and flexibility, Pilates is a great way of starting your day.

Pilates x yoga

For many people Pilates may be considered very similar to yoga as it also consists of exercises that focus on strengthening, posture, balance and flexibility.

While yoga also promotes a different lifestyle and it is more focused on breathing techniques and great for relaxation, when practising Pilates you will be taking into consideration your breathing, your movements and you must train your concentration to focus all your strength in your core _and that is not as easy as it looks by videos and pictures.

A research made by Australia’s Griffith University has found that the core-strengthening perks of Pilates may also ease pain and improve daily life for people suffering from chronic low-back pain. It is also said that Pilates is directly linked to better flexibility, trunk stability, injury prevention and athletic performance.

Types of pilates, recommendations and benefits

Mat Pilates x Reformer

There are two types of pilates classes: Mat Pilates and Reformer. One is based on a mat (a little bit thicker than the one used in yoga) and the other one is on a machine called Reformer. There are other less popular types of machine, such as The Cadillac, but they are for more experient pilates practitioners.

The Mat Pilates and Reformer focus on controlling your balance and your core strength, but the difference is on how savvy you are.

Mat Pilates is usually for beginners as it will help you to build your foundation and be more aware of your posture, flexibility and body strength.

The Reformer machine is more challenging and it may seem to be better for those who want to tone their muscles.

Who should avoid Pilates?

Like every physical activity, pilates must be taken after the supervision of a doctor. It is recommended to do a general check-up if you haven’t exercised in a while or if you recently had an injury. In case you face problems with high or low blood pressure, herniated disk, osteoporosis or you have a risk of blood clots it may also not be indicated for you.

Benefits for the brain

One of the main concepts while doing Pilates is that you have to be “centering” (understand that your movements come from the core), which is directly related to enhanced mindfulness. It helps improve our focus on activities and it is seen as one activity that helps to find alternative solutions as it helps you increase your creativity.

As we are all aware, when we exercise, the body releases hormones such as endorphins that helps us relax. Combined with the breathing exercises, pilates tends to bring great results for people that battles with depression, anxiety and stress.

Benefits for the body

Even though Pilates is not really focused on weight loss or shaping your body, recent studies from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that women strengthened their abdomen area by an average of 21 per cent.

Not only that, but it also increases your flexibility which is one of the main benefits of this practice, decreasing your risk of having injuries, improving your physical performance in other activities and definitely keeping your body young. A lot of physiotherapists also recommends Pilates for people that have suffered from injuries such as chronic neck and back pain (mainly lower-back pain), hip or knee replacements, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and scoliosis.

Image: Envato

How to start Pilates?

Despite the high amount of tutorials and DIY videos on the internet, is not safe to try to do Pilates at home without the supervision of a professional. At least, in the beginning, look for an instructor and make sure you are wearing the proper training clothing and shoes.

As we’ve specified above, there are different types of Pilates. As a beginner, try to search for trial-classes of Mat Pilates so you can see how your body performs in that routine. Keep in mind that it is never a boring class if you are willing to try all the different poses and to work out with equipment that can increase your body flexibility (such as balls, chairs, etc.)

Bear in mind

Pilates is one of the most popular types of exercises at the moment, and many gyms and studios offer classes for older people, women, and even pregnant women (they can also take advantage of pilates, but it must be taken into account how far in the pregnancy she is and any medical recommendation).

However, it’s important to note that even though pilates gives the impression to be a low-impact activity, it demands a lot of a person’s body, so don’t push your limits as the pain may only show in the next day!

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