Pilates Pilates was formed in the 1920's by Joseph Pilates. It is a safe, controlled, non impact, non cardiovascular series of basic moves. It combines mobility, strength and flexibility. It works on posture, balance and stability using the body’s own 'inner corset type' strength. Pilates is a hands-on class to assist you and will arm you with techniques for life.
What is Pilates? Pilates is a series of exercises that involve working muscles from inside out. This means changing the way our bodies have become used to working because of environmental pressures, lifestyle, occupation, stress, injuries etc. Pilates can help re-educate the brain and how it controls the muscles by adjusting the order in which muscles are recruited. In turn it corrects muscular imbalances, restores good alignment/posture, improves homeostasis within the body's system and maximizes energy efficiency.
Why Pilates? A big advantage of Pilates is that anyone can participate as it offers achievable levels, uses basic equipment, helps to develop concentration and has all round benefits to the body. Pilates helps you strengthening weak muscles, lengthening those that are short and increasing joint mobility. No force is used instead slow flowing movements are performed with control to avoid the possibility of strain. There are no unnatural positions or laborious repetitions and each exercise is executed with your correct postural alignment taken into account before you move again.
Pilates can result in an increased body tone, longer leaner look, no extra muscle bulk, improved balance, more freedom of movement, heightened body awareness, reduced stress, increased energy, improved digestion with more effective absorption, better circulation, enhanced immune system, increased strength especially in the abdominal and back muscles, better co-ordination, improved muscle flexibility, improved posture, improved performance in sports, general sense of well-being and is an effective complement to other exercise regimes. It can also help to prevent pain, reshape body, strengthen weak areas, enable you to pace yourself, balancing your body and it also enables you to challenge yourself.
Comparing Pilates and Yoga Essentially Pilates is a combination of t'ai chi and yoga. It has the quality of movement similar to t'ai chi - precision, concentration, control - and many of the positions in Pilates are influenced from Yoga. What makes Pilates different from these two forms is the focus on the body's centre or 'core' strength.
Pilates is frequently compared to yoga with the misconception that they are one and the same. Some classes and videos/DVD's combine both yoga and Pilates however despite their similarities they have a very different emphasis. These similarities include certain common goals with an emphasis on stretching and strengthening muscles, a focus on deep breathing, the use of smooth, long movements that encourage the muscles to lengthen and relax so increases suppleness and most significantly they both advocate individual progress with a non-competitive approach. The main difference is that while most yoga techniques involve moving from one static posture to the next, without repetitions, Pilates flows through a series of movements that are more systematic, dynamic and anatomically based.
Suitable for all….Derived from the original Pilates movements, the class is designed around exercises that are achievable and safe even for those who are new to the concept. There are many different levels which make it a progressive form of exercise and can develop as you become more advanced. Modification of the exercises can also be offered and these enable you to vary the level of each one to suit you. Pilate exercises are tailored to isolate specific and weak muscles enabling you to rebalance your body. The exercises also challenge your abilities and offer you the classic pairing of strength and flexibility that is intrinsically linked to the Pilates philosophy.
Pilates, Back Care and Posture How many people do you know say that they have bad posture? Why and how does it affect the way you look? If posture is poor throughout the day, stress will build up and unequal tension is placed on the body tissues. Some of these tissues atrophy which can lead to deformity, degeneration and altered biomechanics. Symmetrical development of both flexibility and strength are important to posture. A tight muscle will have increased tone and it will inhibit the strength of its opposite i.e. tight biceps will cause the triceps to become weak.
Good posture is a good habit that contributes to the health of the person. Does structure govern function or function govern structure? In reality you can’t have good function without good structure and visa versa. The structure and function of the body provides all the potentialities for attaining and maintaining a good posture. Optimum posture is where different body parts are correctly aligned so the least amount of stress is places on the body tissues. This requires little muscle activity and minimal energy to maintain it. This then minimizes the strain to the ligaments and the joints of the spine, legs and pelvis.
Of particular postural importance is the neutral spine. This represents the normal curvature of the spine in which the back is best able to absorb impact forces producing reduced pressure through the discs. Pressure is most equally distributed along the length of the spine when ligament and muscular tension is in balance. As a result of this ‘design’ our spine is said to be up to 16 times more effective at weight-bearing and shock absorption than a straight spine might be. Problems can occur when these balanced curves change as alteration of one vertebra of the spine will have a knock-on effect with the other vertebrae as body will always compensate aiming to keep the eyes on the horizon. Pilates exercises all start with this neutral spine and so focuses on this correct alignment before, during and after every exercise.