Many of our trainers incorporate the principles of Pilates in their training – and a handful are also certified instructors. We asked one trainer, Tanya, to explain more about the Pilates method.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was developed and practiced in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara. Joseph believed strength should come from the center of your body, often calling this area the “powerhouse” or “girdle of strength.” These muscles were defined as the abdominals, lower back, inner thighs, and buttocks – in other words the muscles that support the spine.
Why we love it.
Clara developed the tradition of evolving and adapting Pilates methods to suit the individual needs of the client – which is one of the reasons Pilates is so useful and universal. It is so adaptable that anyone can do it at any stage of life. From children to seniors to professional athletes to those rehabilitating from injuries. When done carefully under the instruction of an expert, it can also be beneficial during the pre- and postnatal periods. It can also be done virtually anywhere.
What are the benefits of practicing Pilates?
Pilates reinforces the bond between mind and muscle, a topic we discussed in this blog post. It can help you engage the correct muscles of the core and increase body awareness and control. Practicing Pilates regularly can improve posture, balance, athletic performance, and daily life for those suffering from chronic low-back pain.
While the benefits are numerous, be aware that it is (very) easy to do Pilates incorrectly. If you want to experience all these advantages, good form is essential, and that requires a good teacher (at least in the beginning).
To whet your whistle, here’s a basic Pilates exercise that most people can do on their own.
As with anything else, if you have unique or special needs, are recovering from an injury, or are in the pre- or postnatal period, please consult your healthcare provider.
The objective of this exercise is to strengthen the abdominals, develop trunk stabilization, and elevate body temperature. The name reflects the breathing pattern of inhalation and exhalation with a count of 5 for each, repeated 10 times.
Lying on your back, legs in tabletop position, with arms overhead.
Exhale lifting arms, head and chest, bringing arms to the sides of your body parallel to mat.
Stay in this position or straighten legs – lower back should stay on the mat at all times.
Exhale - very small pumps of the arms up and down 5 times
Inhale - very small pumps of the arms up and down 5 times
Continue for 10 breath cycles using deep long breaths. Make sure you keep arm pumps small, avoid overarching of the lower back, and draw the abdominals inward instead of bulging out.
If you want to learn more about Pilates, how to perform exercises correctly, and how it can be incorporated into a broader training program, contact us today for a free assessment!
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 18 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!