What is Pilates?
Pilates is a sports practice in which all the muscles of our body are worked to achieve strong and toned muscles. It is a training method that helps us move more and better with less effort and safely.
As we will explain below, Pilates focuses on having a strong abdomen, having a correct posture, and an aligned spine, which provides multiple benefits when practicing other sports and activities, such as going for a run or dancing. It also helps us in our day-to-day, since having a toned central area will make the backrest more and maintain a better posture.
In Pilates, objects are used to perform the exercises, such as the Pilates ball. Photo by Mikhail Nilov.
The Pilates method is based on 6 fundamental pillars :
- Breathing: Well-organized and controlled breathing are essential. With correct breathing, the execution of the movements is facilitated and the rhythm is set.
- The powerhouse or power center: from the abdomen, we centralize our effort and distribute the force to the rest of the body parts. All the force emanates from the central area of our body, or core. Therefore, in Pilates, the internal and external muscles of the abdomen are especially worked.
- Control: exercises are performed in a controlled manner. Body and mind are connected and we are aware of every movement we make.
- Concentration: refers to the ability to focus our attention on the movement we are making. Concentration is closely linked to the previous point, control.
- Fluency: in Pilates exercises are not performed in isolation one after the other, but rather movements are carried out through which we intertwine exercises. It is like a continuum.
- The precision: the movements must be accurate.
What is Pilates for?
Pilates is recommended for a large number of people as it has multiple benefits. Anyway, if you have any ailment or physical impediment, we recommend that you consult a specialist before starting the practice of Pilates.
To stay fit
Shape your body and strengthen muscles with Pilates practice.
Broadly speaking, Pilates serves to keep fit and perform movements safely (both during class and in our daily lives).
Therefore, it is recommended for young people, adults, and seniors; although the movements are adapted to the age and physical condition of each person.
With the assiduous practice of Pilates, you will especially strengthen the abdominal and lumbar areas. This area is called the abdominal core and is responsible for maintaining the balance of our body.
Although the exercises focus on the abdominal area, it does not mean that the muscles of the body are not worked. The limbs will also be toned with Pilates practice.
As we tell you in the section dedicated to the origin and history of Pilates in this article, the creator of this method, Joseph Pilates, developed it initially as a rehabilitation method for war-wounded and later as a method to recover from injuries for Broadway dancers. Today you do not need to have an injury or go through a rehabilitation process to obtain the benefits of Pilates, but it is a highly recommended discipline if you are in that case.
However, if you are in rehabilitation or recovering from an injury, it is not advisable to join a general Pilates group, since the exercises do have to be adapted to your needs. It is recommended that the first sessions be individually or in very small groups.
This type of Pilates is known as Pilates reformer.
To regain abdominal strength after childbirth
During pregnancy, our body goes through many changes in a short time and Pilates can help us to make these changes have a less aggressive impact.
In general, you can continue practicing Pilates during pregnancy but check with your doctor.
There is prenatal pilates and postnatal pilates. In prenatal Pilates, the exercises are adapted to the state of the woman, of course, and focus on strengthening the pelvic floor and learning to breathe. These two points can be of great help at the time of delivery.
In postnatal Pilates, you can do all the Pilates exercises that were done before you were pregnant, but in the first sessions, you will be careful not to force the body, since you have just gone through a moment of strong changes. Postnatal Pilates will help you get everything back in place in the abdominal area.
To concentrate and become aware of our body
Pilates is not a cardio discipline in which your heart rate is through the roof all the time. Similarly, you are not dripping sweat like when you run 10 kilometers either. Some people may not find it a fun activity, such as Zumba classes. However, we think that running, dancing, and doing Pilates are simply different activities.
In Pilates practice, you must be focused throughout the session, be aware of each movement you perform and focus on performing it correctly. This will help you get to know your body and relearn how to move.