Pilates has been around for nearly 100 years, but it seems to have picked up popularity recently, showing up online and on Instagram constantly. Pilates is a form of exercise done on a mat or a special machine called a reformer that uses low-impact movements to increase flexibility, tone muscles, and build strength. It was originally developed by Joseph Pilates as a form of recovery exercise for dancers. Even if you’re not a professional dancer, pilates can be beneficial to any person. It essentially aligns your body in postures that help counteract all of the repetitive movements we find ourselves in every day through walking, sitting, and hunching over our phones.
Different types of pilates
Pilates is so effective mostly because it is a low-impact exercise, meaning a class can be tailored to be accessible for a lot of different ages and fitness levels. If you are practicing mat-based pilates, the movements are a little harder because you are using the weight of only your body and a few props like exercise bands or hand weights. If you are practicing on a reformer, which is essentially a small machine with springs that help align your movements, you can practice at an even lower impact with the support of the machine. With the guidance of a trained instructor, you are led through movements on the mat or machine that target different muscle groups at a time, toning the muscle while focusing on breathing.
Pilates also largely targets the core and the low back. The core is attached to all of our other muscle groups, and our low back can’t be strong if our core isn’t strong, and vice versa. Pilates also helps to relax the muscles as they are being strengthened, which can help improve overall mobility and posture. A win-win!
Doing pilates with an instructor
If you are interested in mat-based pilates, you can practice at home with videos online, however, I would recommend starting with an instructor in a studio so they can make sure you don’t hurt or overexert yourself. Once you get the hang of the alignment of the movements, then practicing with a virtual instructor could work well. If you are practicing reformer pilates, you certainly would have to visit a studio, as the machines would be there. Your instructor will guide you through your workout, using the reformer machine in different ways to create a low-impact workout. Because reformer pilates specifically is so low impact, a lot of people can do this exercise and feel the benefits. You don’t need to be super strong or physically fit to start. The reformer machine helps guide your movements.
If you’re interested, look up your local pilates studio and give them a call. Some yoga studios also offer pilates as well, which would be a great complimentary exercise. Pilates helps counteract all of the hunching and crunching we do in our day-to-day lives. It helps elongate the body, and improve your posture, all while helping build strength through low-impact movements. It really is as good for you as everyone says. Check it out!