what is pilates and how to get started with it?

Pilates was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected. he began studying yoga, meditation, martial arts, and various Greek and Roman exercises and 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.
Joseph Pilates was inspired by the classical Greek ideal of the man balance in body, mind and in spirit when creating his method.
When Joseph Pilates developed this work, he did not talk about long, lean muscles, or flat abs as we see in Pilates body advertising today. He was interested in the body as a total package of health and vitality, from which flat abs, better posture, balanced muscularity is simply a natural result.
Initially, Joseph Pilates created and devised 34 fundamental exercises that aimed the complete coordination of the mind, body and spirit. These exercises have been developed over the years, but regardless of different approaches taken by some instructors the six key principles have remained and are followed by all certified instructors. which are control, concentration, centring, breathing, precision and flow.

What is pilates?

It’s a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.
It’s demanding, but it’s not the kind of workout that always works up a sweat. It’s all about concentration and breathing. But you’ll definitely feel it in your muscles during each exercise.
Shallow breathing is a major issue because when it becomes habitual it can result in chronic stress.
Pilates offers plenty of benefits to your body, no matter your fitness background. You’ll improve your posture and focus on bodily alignment. Pilates highly promotes mind-body connection. Through the mind-body connection which is taught in Pilates you will become much more aware of how your body moves and performs, Therefore Pilates not only improves your physical balance through correct posture but will also restore your mind-body balance.
unlike running and other high-impact cardio that can put strain on your joints, pilates is performed close to the ground. You’ll be seated, balanced on your side, or laying on your back as you get in shape one stretch at a time.
The Pilates prioritizes quality over quantity. Unlike other systems of exercise, Pilates exercises do not include a lot of repetitions for each move. The idea is that by performing each exercise with precision and focusing on the breath you can achieve significant results in a shorter amount of time.
mindfulness as a technique is now celebrated for the way it reduces stress, anxiety, depression and can even help manage chronic pain.

what is the foundation of pilates?

pilates relies on 6 fondamental aspects of fitness
Centering: This is the practice of bringing your awareness to the center of your body, the area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. This central region of the core powers all Pilates exercises.
Concentration: By focusing on each exercise with your full attention, you will yield maximum results from each movement.
Control: Pilates was initially known as ‘Contrology’ as it is imperative that each movement of the body is carried out with complete control. To achieve perfect control, you need to be fully aware of the movements of your neuro-muscular junctions.
Precision: Sustained awareness ensures that each movement is precise. This means the appropriate placement of each body part, and focusing on proper alignment and core engagement.
Breath: Breathing is known as the first and last human function, we constantly breathe in and out; so we often assume we don’t need instructions to perform this activity correctly. Joseph Pilates insisted it was vital to “learn to breathe properly”, he envisioned the lungs as a bellows and we should use them to circulate air powerfully around the body. saw breathing as a cleansing mechanism for the body and referred to it as the “internal shower”.
Flow: Pilates exercises are not meant to be rigid. Fluidity, grace, and ease are applied to every movement. The idea is that the energy of an exercise performed from the central “powerhouse” connects each part of the body to move in a single fluid motion. Pilates equipment such as the reformer is a great indicator of flow since it functions best when a practitioner is performing movements with both precision and fluidity.
Similar to Yoga, Pilates concentrates on posture, balance and flexibility. In Pilates the chance of injury is much lower than with other more strenuous forms of exercise. Also like yoga, the Pilates Method encourages deep, conscious breathing.

What is the 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 does not require any equipment.
Pilates exercises are performed in a flow of movement without the static poses associated with yoga.
Yoga is traditionally an ancient spiritual practice of connecting the mind and body through the breath, whereas Pilates is a system of exercises that emphasizes core engagement to promote functional movement of the body.
To sum it up, in yoga you hold static poses; in pilates you keep a steady pace.
For athletes, including dancers, pilates can complement training by developing whole-body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury. Pilates moves tend to target the core(core or trunk are called powerhouse in pilates), although the exercises work other areas of your body as well. Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. It can improve muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension.
Dedicating your entire focus to even the smallest movements means that you’ll work the muscles that each exercise intends. And that means you can be dealing with muscle soreness after your workout.
balanced muscular development is a result of training the body to move with harmony and efficiency. Trunk stability through core engagement is the most important aspect of Pilates training since it dictates how the body moves, not just in the studio or gym but in daily life. For Joseph Pilates, the goal was to create a method that would allow the body to move with grace, ease, and efficiency. Such a body has to be both strong and flexible, and it has certain qualities of movement, such as being centered and balanced.
The Pilates Method posits that an imbalanced body can lead to muscular weaknesses, which may potentially cause compensations in the body that inhibit a joint from moving through its full range of motion.
The exercises involve the use of muscles that you may not use on a daily basis. After the initial soreness, you’ll find that your muscles will be much more toned. This is especially good for older people and those who are normally quite sedate in their daily life as muscle tone is usually lost with age and inactivity.
As we age we tend to lose the flexibility we had when we were young. Pilates will restore your flexibility, gently at first of course. After a while though, you’ll be amazed at how much more flexible your body has become. This is especially important for avoiding injuries from falls.
The most common training program for pilates is STOTT Pilates and you’ll find this at the majority of classes you attend and is based on the principles of biomechanics. While more traditional exercises may focus on strengthening the core and keeping a stretched back, this method incorporates latest discoveries in exercise science, concentrating on keeping the natural curve of the spine and a neutral pelvic position to help achieve a stronger core. It may, however, feel uncomfortable keeping the natural spine position for those who have suffered with spinal injuries.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness programs, it recommends:
• At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity, spread out during the course of a week
• Strength training exercises like pilates for all major muscle groups at least two times a week
Bear in mind though that Pilates is not classed as an aerobic exercise, so for effective weight loss you should combine your Pilates exercises with a healthy diet and some regular aerobic activity such as walking, swimming or cycling.
Although Pilates is specifically defined as exercise for the core or abdominal muscles, it is important that clients know that the core includes the entire trunk, which is the abdominals, the hips, the inner and outer thighs, and the back.

Main beginners exercises in pilates include The Hundred (a breathing exercise that also targets core strength and stability), roll up (a slow, precise move that stretches the spine and the back of the body and strengthens the abdominals), Leg circles (which strengthen the hips and core stabilizers), Rolling like a ball (which massages the spine and opens up the back), and Series of 5 (a group of moves that strengthen the abdominals and back muscles).
Many rehabilitation clinics and wellness centres now offer Pilates as a form of physical therapy. Research has found that Pilates can be an effective treatment for injuries and illnesses such as Chronic neck and back pain, Hip or knee replacements, Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Scoliosis.
Initially, apparatus or props were not part of the first 34 Pilates exercises, but there are now places that only provide apparatus-based Pilates classes. Pilates makes use of rings, Therabands, Swiss ball or mini balls and can take place on a mat.
There are two major types of pilates, pilates with mat(which is a tad thicker than your standard yoga mat to cushion pressure points) and pilates with especial equipment called apparatus and the most famous one is reformer machine.

What is a reformer?

The Reformer is basically a bed-like frame with a sliding carriage which is attached to one end with a set of springs. These springs are adjustable to offer different levels of resistance. There are also shoulder blocks on the carriage which stops you from sliding off as you push or pull the carriage.
A foot-bar is attached at the spring end of the reformer. This foot-bar can be used by your hands or feet as you move the carriage along. Long straps with handles are attached to the other end of the frame. These can pulled with your arms or legs and will also move the carriage.
To use the reformer, you can lie, sit or stand on it and perform exercises which push, pull or hold the carriage steady while the springs provide the right amount of resistance needed. One of the benefits of the reformer is that it can lengthen your muscles as they resists the force of the springs. This is called eccentric muscle contraction and is excellent for achieving strong, long muscles without added bulk.
The reformer is particularly useful if you have some form of injury or are recuperating from an injury as your muscles can be gently stretched and strengthened using only slight resistance.

Mat and apparatus pilates can be adapted to suit different levels of fitness and ability. However, if you cannot lie down on a mat for whatever reason, the apparatus can provide alternative ways to exercise.
Both approaches focus on the concept of control rather than cranking out endless reps or muscle exhaustion. Beginners normally start with mat.
There are also other types of pilates classes using different equipments like Wunda(a low chair with padding and springs), Magic Circle(a ring you often use between your legs to create resistance), spine corrector or high chair, and one other equipment which has become popular recently named Cadillac, which looks a little like a bed with a canopy frame and is used in various ways for advanced students.

What Is Cadillac?

The Cadillac(also known as trap table) is an interesting piece of equipment and at first glance, it looks more like a medieval torture device than a piece of exercise equipment.
It consist of a bed with a mat on it and a three sided frame going over the top and attached to either end of the bed. It usually stands about 6 feet tall. Attached to the frame are various apparatus like leg springs, arm springs, loops to hang from, a push-through bar and even a trapeze.
Due to its large size the Cadillac is not often used in group classes so if you want to try out this piece of equipment you would be better off searching for some private Pilate classes in your area. Some of these private studios have what is called a Cadillac wall unit which is basically one side of the Cadillac attached to a wall for better stability.

what clothes should i wear for pilates?

The outfit should let the body flow smoothly from movement to movement and allow the instructor verify the technique.
Be ready to train with socks or even bare foot and also avoid wearing baggy and large fitted clothes since it may hide your bad posture from your coach during class but also do not wear too tight fitted clothes as well and also do not wear shorts! Most of pilates movements involve your leg being up and you do not want to reveal too much.

Can I do pilates?

Pilates is not suitable for everyone, if you have a special condition, like Unstable blood pressure, herniated disk, Severe osteoporosis, or risk of blood clots, you probably are not suited for it. Talk to a doctor or specialist before taking any classes.
If you have diabetes, you may need to make some adjustments in your diabetes treatment plan, since adding muscle mass helps your body make better use of glucose. Your doctor can tell you what changes you need to make. Tell your instructor that you have diabetes and particularly if you have any complications such as diabetic retinopathy. You may need to avoid certain Pilates moves.
If you have arthritis, a strength-training program such as Pilates is a very important part of your exercise program. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training can help curb symptoms, maintain balance, keep joints flexible, and help you get to and keep an ideal body weight.
If you have had a recent back or knee injury, put off Pilates until your doctor clears you. Pilates strengthens the thigh muscles (quadriceps), and this may help prevent arthritis and knee injuries. It may also help prevent greater disability if you have arthritis.
Also If you’re old or inexperienced in sports, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Pilates is no exception. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their health care providers before starting Pilates or other exercise programs.