What Is The Meaning of Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise or a workout technique designed specifically to strengthen and restore body balance. Pilates forms its basis on anatomical interpretation of our body’s skeletal and muscular system. Each individual gets a detailed exercise program formulated by the Pilates’ instructor. The Pilates classes concentrate on specific areas separately along with exercises incorporating the entire body to restore and retrain it for optimal skeletal and muscular functions. This holistic approach differentiates Pilates from other forms of exercise. Various therapists like chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and general practitioners have endorsed Pilates as one of the best and an extremely safe method of exercise at present. Pilates is a form of exercise which is beneficial for everyone irrespective of the age and fitness of the individual.
Pilates focuses on using both the mind and body for achieving maximum performance. The body’s deep stabilizing muscles are conditioned and strengthened with the help of a series of movements, which use gravity, your own body weight along with specially designed equipment to provide resistance. Pilates’ primary focus is the link between the mind and body. Pilates comprises of training the mind so that it is always aware of the way in which the body moves. This results in major improvement of technique along with increased control of motion. Most of the Pilates workout can be done on a mat and without any Pilates’ machine or any other special equipment.
Pilates for Weight Loss
Pilates helps in weight loss by creating a long, lean, fit body. Weight loss occurs in Pilates by:
- Burning calories: The amount of calories burnt by you depends on your body type and level of exertion.
- Pilates helps in creating lean muscle mass, which in turn helps in increasing your calorie-burning potential.
- Pilates helps in toning, trimming and shaping the body.
- Pilates enhance your posture which makes you look and feel trimmer. Pilates gives you a lean appearance by enhancing your body’s alignment and length.
- Pilates encourages deep and efficient respiration which aids in efficient burning of calories and regeneration of the tissue.
- Pilates is helpful for enhancing the self-esteem of an individual and also increases lifestyle consciousness which in turn helps with weight loss.
- Pilates increases an individual’s endurance level and stamina thus facilitating increased energy to go through the day’s work with ease. Usually, Pilates is not done the way an aerobic exercise is done but it can be combined with aerobic and cardio exercises for achievement of increased weight loss.
Pilates for Men
Pilates is beneficial for everyone, men and women alike. The person who developed the concept of Pilates was a man named Joseph Pilates. Since then, Pilates has been done by both men and women for over 50 years with men prominently playing the role of instructors and promoters of Pilates. Men have always been a part of Pilates; however, due to the increase in popularity of the Pilates in the recent years, more and more women participants and instructors are getting involved, which gives the wrong impression or misconception that Pilates is for women. However, this notion is also quickly dissolving with Pilates becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends throughout the world with both men and women participating in it equally.
Pilates for Beginners: 5 Useful Exercises
There is a common misconception that Pilates can be done by professional athletes or dancers, when the truth is that Pilates can be done by anyone, and everyone can benefit from it. Another common misperception is that to do Pilates, you need specialized equipment; whereas the truth is most of the Pilates exercises can be done using a mat, on the floor. Given below are some of the common Pilates exercises for beginners.
Exercise 1: The Hundred
This is a classic Pilates exercise and should be done as a warm up as it warms up your lungs as well as abdominal muscles. All you need is a mat. You do this exercise for 100 beats, thus the name “The Hundred.”
- Lie on your back on the mat with your knees bent and with your hips and knees positioned at 90 degrees and your feet in the air.
- Keep your hands at your sides with the palms down, slightly raised.
- Inhale and exhale deeply whilst slightly pumping your arms up and down in rhythm with your breaths.
- This should be done in a set of 10 breaths, i.e. 5 inhales and 5 exhales.
- You can modify this exercise to make it more challenging by lifting your head up or by extending your legs so that they are raised slightly above the floor.
Exercise 2: The Bridge
This exercise helps in gaining torso stability. This exercise is ideal for those people who have an injured or weak back as it strengthens the back of the legs and the glutes along with building core stability.
- Lie on your back on the mat with your knees flexed and your feet flat on the ground about hip distance apart.
- Keep your arms along your side and palms down on the mat.
- Inhale deeply and as you exhale, lift your hips above the mat by pressing your feet down on the floor and squeezing your gluteus muscles.
- Continue lifting till your body is in a straight line between your knees and shoulders.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling while holding this position.
- As you exhale, slowly lower your body down to its original position on the mat.
- Do five repetitions at least.
Exercise 3: Spine Stretch Forward
- This exercise helps in stretching your neck, spine and upper back.
- Sit straight and upright on your mat with your legs extended out in front of you.
- Keep your legs slightly wider than your hips width.
- Inhale and at the same time raise your arms up, with your palms down and feet flexed.
- Then slowly exhale while rounding your back along with rolling your head and neck forward and at the same time reaching straight ahead with your body assuming a “C” shape.
- Inhale again while rolling your body back and straightening your spine again.
- Exhale as you get back to your original upright position.
- Try to do this exercise in repetitions of 3.
Exercise 4: Single Leg Circles
- This exercise helps in working the hip flexors, thighs and abdominals.
- Lie on your back with your legs straightened.
- Keep your arms outstretched on both sides horizontally with the palms facing down.
- Bring your right leg into your chest while tightening or contracting your abdominal muscles, and then bring the leg up towards the ceiling.
- Inhale while crossing the leg over the opposite hip.
- Lower your leg down by few inches and involve your inner thigh muscles while moving your leg around in a small circle.
- Rotate your legs five times in a circle and then switch the direction to move in the opposite way.
- Repeat this step with the other leg.
- In case you have tight hamstrings, then you can begin this exercise with your legs flexed and your feet flat on the mat.
Exercise 5: Plank/Front Support
This Pilates exercise is a pose and is frequently used to switch between various Pilates exercises. It can be done on its own also as it helps strengthening the core muscles and building your stability.
- Place your knees on the mat and keep your hands stretched out in front of you to help in keeping your upper body up.
- Next, lean forward so that your weight is on your hands while stretching our one leg and then the other.
- Keep your feet together and your toes curled.
- Hold this position and breathe deeply for 3 to 5 counts.
- When you are in this position, make sure that your body forms a straight line without any arching or dipping of the back.