You make sure to get your cardio sessions in most days and hopefully you’re adding strength training at least twice a week. Pilates is another great form of exercise to add your weekly workouts! Most know that Pilates is a great core workout. But did you know it’s also known for improving (all) muscle tone and posture, balancing the muscles, creating a longer, leaner look and teaches you to move with ease and grace?
In its official description, “Pilates is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility, strength, and body awareness, without necessarily adding bulk.” And because the system addresses al l muscle groups, your body will get a balanced workout.
Pilates is a great way to add flexibility and strength to your routine. And, it’s a great, low-impact and efficient program. You will definitely work up a sweat, raise your heart rate and feel your muscles work.
The most challenging part of Pilates (or any core work) is learning how to engage your neutral spine. I personally feel that more time should be spent on this to help everyone learn how to really feel when you are in neutral. Every BODY is different, so it may take more practice for some. Try this web site to learn more about neutral spine: http://www.advancedintegrativerehabilitation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Spine-Stability-.pdf
Another big piece of Pilates is the breath. Your instructor will guide you through the exercises while breathing with the movements. You will learn how to fill your diaphragm (belly breathing) and move slowly through your range of motion. Pilates focuses on the quality of the movement, not the quantity. Generally you perform 8-10 repetitions of each exercise with emphasis on full range of motion (if possible) and breath.
Look for a beginner Pilates Mat class when you’re ready to start. A beginner class on the mat should teach you about neutral spine and breath before moving on to the exercises. Once you have been though a beginner routine and feel comfortable, then move on to the more advanced exercises. At this point you may want to try a Pilates Reformer class. This will involve using the Reformer bed (a wooden or metal bed with springs and straps) that will take you through similar movements that you learned on the mat, but with added resistance and fluid movement.
There are many websites and books to guide you through your own workouts; Balanced Body and Stott Pilates are just a few out there. One of my favorite books is “The Pilates Body” by Brooke Siler. But, if possible, take a class! Your very own fitness center offers classes, so pick up a group fitness schedule and give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Please check out Pilates/Yoga Fusion at with Anne Richter-Arnold, every Thursday at 5:30pm at ascutney!
Corporate Wellness Director