PILATES: The Next Step

With its popularity still high, Pilates classes and studios are available in every city and a range of ability levels make Pilates a great exercise option for everyone.

Some of the most important aspects of beginning any exercise regimen are finding the right trainer and location as well as making sure the routine is compatible with your day-to-day activities so that you are more likely to be maintain your exercise efforts.

Due to the demand for Pilates instructors, there are many organizations that offer instructor certification. Most certified Pilates instructors have at least 600 hours of observation, exams and practice. Don’t hesitate to ask an instructor about his or her experience and certification. You may also want to inquire about the instructor’s insurance.

Consistency in the beginning is essential to learning Pilates. One attempt is not enough to truly make a decision about anything, much less a new exercise program. Making Pilates a reward or a break from a hectic day is a great way to motivate yourself to practice the exercise regularly.

The main difference between individual exercises and Pilates is that Pilates is non-impact and has little to no strain on the body, making it highly recommendable for those who have difficulty exercising due to an injury or osteoporosis. By focusing on using the body as a whole, Pilates is done mostly lying down and kneeling on the floor. When the body is moved, it is done is such a way that the abdominal wall protects the back from any kind of sprain. The workout is highly symmetrical, making sure that one side is not working harder than the other, which promotes strength, flexibility and a toned physique.

Pilates itself is a very well-organized and structured physical fitness system that contains both philosophical and theoretical foundations. It encourages total concentration (meaning participating mentally and physically) and listening to your body during the workout, which can help speed up results. Its main principles are as follows:

Concentration.

This is the most important principle in Pilates. Pilates demands intense focus. Beginners are instructed to pay careful attention to their bodies, building on very small, delicate fundamental movements and controlled breathing.

Control.

Joseph Pilates built his method on the idea of muscle control. Every movement is to be done with control so that the body is not thrown around during exercise.

Centering.

Pilates uses the body in an evenly and balanced manner. All energy for Pilates exercises is said to begin from the “powerhouse” (the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks) and flow outward to the limbs.

Fluidity and Flow.

A smooth shift from one exercise to another is expected so that there is a continuous flow throughout the program. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina.

Alignment. Correct postural alignment of the skeletal structure is crucial, not only to get the best out of the exercise but to prevent injury.

Breath. Full and thorough inhalation and exhalation are a part of every Pilates exercise and should be done with concentration, control and precision. Proper and effective breathing not only oxygenates the muscles but reduces tension in the upper neck and shoulders.

For most participants, Pilates is safe enough to do every day and it is recommended that beginners do so in order to obtain the desired rhythm and develop consistency. Once comfortable with the movements, you may want to take advice from Joseph Pilates himself who said, “I recommend four times a week.” Sounds like sage advice

By Carlos Jaramillo

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