Pilates and Its Benefits
Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates and introduced in the United States in the 1920s. Pilates was a former boxer and self-defense trainer with extensive physical training. The Pilates method of exercise blends influences from yoga, Chinese acrobatics, gymnastics, and boxing. The key difference between yoga postures and Pilates mat exercises is that Pilates mat classes involve a series of specialized calisthenic exercises, so you're focusing on targeted muscles rather than the flow of energy in your body. Pilates also created a number of innovative training machines including the Reformer and the Trapeze Table, among others. The Reformer resembles a cot with springs, straps, and a sliding carriage, and was based on devices he created when he worked in a hospital. The Trapeze Table looks like a four-poster bed with a trapeze bar on one end and a variety of springs, straps, poles, and bars. For purpose of the wedding workout, only a sampling of Pilates mat exercises are included.
A popular style of class today that you will find in many studios or fitness centers is a fusion class that blends one or more mind-body styles of training. One blend that works very well is the combination of yoga and Pilates exercises, given their shared heritage.
Yoga and Pilates both place emphasis on your “core” muscles — your abdominals, lower back, and dozens of small spinal muscles. When all of those small, internal muscles are optimally strong, they lend support, stability, and added strength to your weight training activities. Your aerobic exercises also benefit because the more you can stabilize your posture, the more you can access the strength and power in your legs and arms, due to a more efficient transfer of force through your body.
The regular practice of Pilates provides the following benefits for healthy participants:
Stronger abdominal and back muscles
Stronger pelvic and shoulder stabilizer muscles
Balanced muscle development
Better coordination and balance
Reduced likelihood of back pain or injury
Enhanced confidence and self-esteem
Improved mind-body connection if practiced with focused attention
Superior athletic performance
Because of the broad spectrum of benefits that can be derived from Pilates practice, enthusiasts range from people who are recovering from musculoskeletal injuries to elite athletes.