There are a plethora of benefits that can be derived from engaging in regular Pilates sessions. Most of the benefits come about because of the principles of Pilates.
Let’s look at the different principles and see how they benefit you.
A ton of emphasis is placed on control. You’ll never see a Pilates session where people swing around wildly. Pilates is all about slow, controlled movements. Joseph Pilates called it contrology and this is what he had to say about it.
“Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.”
So how does contrology benefit you?
If you look at one of the Pilates moves known as the ‘Bridge with single leg’… you’ll be asked to lie flat on the floor with your legs bent and the feet on the floor. You’ll then be asked to slowly extend one leg at a 45 degree angle. Once this is done, you’ll need to curl and raise your hips upwards till it is in line with your shoulders and knees. You’ll then lower and raise your hips a couple of times. After that, you’ll repeat the move with the other leg.
What this exercise does is it works your glutes, hamstring, and abdominal muscles. You will be required to engage your core muscles to maintain good balance. The slow controlled movement will mean that your muscles actually feel the tension and the entire body is working as a whole. You can’t do this move in a bouncy, dynamic manner or you might end up needing a hip replacement.
Slow and steady is the way. While it may seem easy to execute, you’ll be surprised to find that it’s a lot more challenging than it sounds. Your muscles may quiver and there may be a mild burning sensation while your muscles are engaged. You’ll feel relief when you relax.
The slow movement recruits more muscle fibres and also allows you to focus… which brings us to the next point.
You absolutely must concentrate and focus on the move when you’re executing it. This is the mind-body connection that Pilates strives for. You’ll need to clear your mind about the daily worries, activities, etc. and focus solely on the exercise. This improves concentration. Many older people find themselves getting forgetful as they age. Pilates will help them improve brain function and memory. You’ll also be required to visualize the movement in your mind before executing it. This improves your imagination too.
Fluidity in Movement
Since you’ll need to be fluid in your movements during your Pilates sessions, the muscles in your body will develop ‘muscle memories’. That means the fluid movements done during your sessions will translate to fluid movements during your day to day activities. You will be fluid when you walk, move, stand, etc. Your body has been conditioned to move efficiently. No more poor posture, abrupt movements that may cause sudden sprains or pulls, etc. that will cause you pain.
Pilates focuses most of its movements on the body’s midsection which it terms as the ‘powerhouse’. Joseph Pilates believed that if the core was strong, most of the ailments in the body could be healed. He is right. Many people who get started on Pilates struggle with the moves initially because the core is neither strong enough nor is it conditioned to work in that manner. In fact, even bodybuilders with bulging biceps struggle to execute some of the Pilates moves because core training is usually neglected by most people which explains why so many people experience strains and aches.
In Pilates, you will be required to breathe in through your nose during the relaxing part of the exercise and exhale during the effortful part of the exercise. This will encourage deep breathing which leads to better health.
Better Muscle Tone
While you will not become muscle bound with Pilates regardless of what age you practice it at, your body will become lean and lithe. Even seniors will notice that their muscle tone improves and they start feeling stronger.
As we age, our muscles get weaker and there is muscle atrophy. This is known as ‘age-related sarcopenia’. While this may happen to people who are active too, Pilates will reduce the chances of it taking root in your body and even if you do get it, the effects will be mitigated.
The different Pilates moves will work your muscles and cause the body to retain muscle. You may even gain some muscle. You won’t become Superwoman… but you will definitely be stronger with Pilates than without.
Improved Balance and Flexibility
This is another benefit of Pilates. Like Joseph said,
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”
With Pilates, your body will become more supple and see increased flexibility. Falling during old age is very common because seniors do not have the strength to correct a slip. Most younger people who slip a little will be able to quickly recruit the different muscles at once to prevent a fall.
Older people are usually weaker and have poorer balance. That’s why they’re considered as ‘fall risks’ in hospitals. Once again, Pilates comes to the rescue and gives them the strength and flexibility to stay balanced and risk-free.
Pilates really seems fantastic, doesn’t it?
A fun fact: Many celebrities such as Madonna, Michelle Obama, Hugh Grant, John Cleese, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston, and Ian McKellen are huge fans of Pilates and do it regularly.
Would YOU like to give Pilates a try? Give me a call on 0419 588 736 and I can help you get started.