Here is what the NHS says about Pilates. I’ll tell you my definition another time.
First thing first, what is it all about ?
Pilates aims to strengthen the body in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing.
Pilates exercises are done on a mat or using special equipment, such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair.
Pilates was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected. His method was influenced by western forms of exercise, including gymnastics, boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling. Pilates immigrated to the US in the 1920s and opened a studio in New York, where he taught his method, which he called “contrology” – for several decades.
Who will benefit from it?
Pilates has something to offer people of all ages and levels of ability and fitness, from beginners to elite athletes. The apparatus can be used to provide support for beginners and people with certain medical conditions, as well as resistance for people looking to challenge their body.
There are many reports on the health benefits of Pilates. However, few of these have been subjected to rigorous scientific examination, and there’s a need for more research in this area.
Practitioners say regular Pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, Pilates can complement training by developing whole-body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury.
About back pain?
There’s some evidence that Pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. The use of apparatus enables someone with back pain to perform exercises with support.
For the exercises to be effective, they need to be tailored to the individual and vetted by an appropriately qualified health professional.
Learn more here.
And weight loss?
Pilates is classed as a muscle-strengthening activity, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Classes can vary in intensity: they can be gentle, or dynamic and offer a solid workout.
If you want to lose weight, you’re advised to combine Pilates with a healthy diet and some aerobic activities, such as swimming, walking and cycling.
Any difference between Pilates and Yoga?
While the methods are different, Pilates and yoga both develop strength, balance, flexibility, posture and good breathing technique.
Both systems emphasise the connection between physical and mental health, although yoga places more emphasis on relaxation and uses meditation. Pilates is performed both on apparatus and mats, whereas classic yoga doesn’t require any equipment.
Pilates exercises are performed in a flow of movement without the static poses associated with yoga. (I disagree on this one!)
Joseph Pilates originally devised more than 500 exercises for his system, of which 34 were mat exercises.
Mat work may involve traditional pilates equipment, such as magic circles or hand weights, as well as non-pilates gear, such as stretch bands, gym balls and foam rollers.
How do I choose a Pilates class?
Pilates can be taught on a one-to-one or group basis. If you have a health condition that may require close attention, check with the Pilates teacher that their class is suitable.
Pilates can be taught in a dedicated Pilates studio with apparatus, or in an open area with mats and small equipment. Both mat and apparatus Pilates can be taught privately or in small groups, with most classes lasting 60 minutes.
Ideally, apparatus classes should be taught on a one-to-one basis and around a maximum of 12 for mat work, to ensure personal attention can be provided. Group apparatus classes are popular, but a degree of experience in using the apparatus is advisable before joining a group class.
Anyone can call themselves a Pilates teacher as there is currently no legal requirement to be registered or have a Pilates qualification. There is a nationally recognised level 3 qualification for mat-based Pilates teaching but no qualification for teaching Pilates using apparatus.
When choosing a Pilates teacher, you should consider their experience and the quality of their training, as well as personality and rapport. Experienced teachers will normally have undergone a minimum of 450 teacher training hours over a period of several months or years.
And I’ll recommand to choose someone that you like, you’ll get more benefits from your classes 🙂