What is pilates about? Pilates is a form of exercise that strengthens your core and other muscles. But what does pilates do? How can you get started with Pilates workout today? Read on to find out more about this versatile fitness program!

Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection by using exercises that focus on breathing techniques, concentration, precision movements and maintaining awareness of one's own body in space.

Done correctly it improves posture, strength and flexibility while also slimming down the waistline.  In order to reap all these benefits from pilates workouts, you need to be consistent with your practice.

The best way to start practising is at home without any equipment which will allow you to focus on developing good habits before moving

To get started with Pilates, you can follow along at home with instructional DVDs or online videos if you're unable to attend classes due to injuries or schedules.

More importantly, beginners must start small. It is a slow-paced workout that emphasises controlled movements, deep breathing and concentration on posture alignment.


Why do people practise Pilates?

what is pilates about

Pilates looks at our involvement in life to determine the way that we are as a person. These factors include our physical, emotional, and mental states.

The practice of Pilates helps improve your quality of life by aiding recovery from injury, providing increased strength and flexibility, improved balance and coordination.

Pilates is about whole-body conditioning that strengthens without building bulk while targeting stability through core work and joint mobility throughout the body’s major kinetic chain.

It simultaneously achieves cardiovascular fitness through controlled breathing, centring exercises that focus on the spine for stability in all movements (not just an endless number of crunches), and general meditation techniques. 

These exercises work to create a better balance of muscles in the body, which improves posture and alignment.

They also strengthen both the core (the abdominals) and deep back muscles that enhance stability while improving movement patterns for optimal performance.

As such, these benefits are often sought by people who have had lower-back injuries or those with chronic neck pain.


How to Practice Pilates

The idea of Pilates is to strengthen the body's core muscles and improve mobility, which in turn fosters good alignment. The Pilates Method includes exercises that address the whole body. These include:

  1. The Hundred: a series of 100 abdominal crunches in one set, with the knees up and feet on the ground.
  2. Side Plank Pose: a plank pose is done by lifting your body at an angle from the floor using only your hand and elbow.
  3. Roll-Ups: these can be performed as either traditional roll-ups or as a progression that includes the use of resistance bands.
  4. Swimming is another great exercise for those with limited mobility in their hips and knees. It focuses on using your abdominals to lift yourself off the floor while moving side-to-side like a swimmer would move through the water.
  5. Leg Circles: this exercise is done by lying on your back with your legs raised off of the ground and making large circles in both directions.
  6. Crunches: these are performed either from a traditional crunch position or leg lifts to improve the hip range of motion.
  7. Supermans: this exercise starts like someone getting up from a chair, but with outstretched arms and legs.
  8. The Double Leg Lift: This exercise is done by lying on your back, lifting both legs off of the floor to a 45-degree angle, then lowering them down in one controlled movement onto the other side.
  9. The Roll Down starts on your hands and knees and focuses on the upper back, abdominals, hips, buttocks and thighs.
  10. The Reverse Stretch is done on your stomach, where you push one arm straight up towards the ceiling while reaching out with the other arm toward the same foot. You then repeat for another side.
  11. The Bridge is done on your feet or knees. You are then meant to thrust off of your feet and lift your hips while stretching the spine and feeling the stretch in your buttocks, lower back and hamstrings.
  12. Criss-Cross: this is another progression that starts on the hands and knees. You then push one arm straight up towards the ceiling while reaching out with another hand toward the same foot. After you have done this for both sides, cross your right ankle over your left knee to stretch those inner thighs and hips.
  13. The Twist: a seated twist where you rotate from side to side.
  14. -The Knee to Chest Stretch: this exercise is done by lying on your back and bringing the knee up towards your chest while stretching the other leg outstretched in front of you.
  15. Scissors kick: this exercise is done by lying on your stomach, lifting one leg straight up to the side, and then bringing it back across the body while raising the opposite arm.
  16. The Child's Pose: a rest pose where you are in a downward-facing dog position with your arms reaching forward and forehead touching the ground. You can rest here for as little or as long as you need.


Benefits of practising Pilates

The benefits of practising pilates are wide and varied, Below are some:

  1. Improve your posture: Practice of Pilates helps to improve your posture.
  2. Reduce back pain: The practice can help reduce back pain by activating the core (the muscles around the abdominal area).
  3. Improve sleep quality: Regular exercise is good for improving sleep quality and reducing stress, reducing snoring. Pilates exercises on their own may not be enough to improve your sleep quality, but they can help.
  4. Increase energy levels: Some Pilates exercises are designed to increase and restore strength in the body's core muscles that control breathing, which will also give you more energy.
  5. Improve mental health: Regular exercise has been found to reduce stress and anxiety and improve one's mood and sense of well-being.
  6. Strengthen your core muscles: Pilates exercises will help strengthen the core muscles that can be difficult to target with other types of exercise.
  7. Reduce back pain and joint stiffness: Pilates exercises are designed to increase and restore strength in the body's core muscles that control breathing, which will also give you more energy.
  8. Improve posture: With regular practice of Pilates, your spine can be strengthened and improved by balancing out muscle groups on both sides of the back.
  9. Reduce fatigue: Regular exercise is good for improving sleep quality and reducing stress, which in turn reduces snoring.
  10. Improve physical fitness: Regular exercise is good for improving sleep quality and reducing stress, which in turn reduces snoring.
  11. Prevent injury: Pilates exercises on their own may not be enough to improve your physical fitness, but they can help. A regular Pilates practice can help prevent injuries that may occur from doing other types of exercises.
what is pilates about

Emotional benefits:

  1. Feel more confident in social situations: Pilates focuses on the core muscles in your abdomen and lower back, which can help with feelings of insecurity.
  2. Improve self-esteem: A regular Pilates practice can improve your confidence by strengthening these important muscle groups often neglected.
  3. Experience a sense of accomplishment: When you learn to control the movement of your body through Pilates exercises, it can help you feel more accomplished.
  4. Reduce stress: Regular exercise is good for improving sleep quality and reducing stress, which in turn reduces snoring. Pilates exercises on their own may not be enough to reduce your stress levels, but they can help.
  5. Better moods: With regular practice of Pilates, your spine can be strengthened and improved by balancing out muscle groups on both sides of the back.


Benefits to specific groups:

  1. Senior adults: Pilates can help maintain the muscle strength, mobility, activity levels, and independence that come with aging. This is because it focuses on training your core muscles (abdominal area) which control breathing. It also improves balance through a series of movements.
  2. Pregnant women: Pilates can help prepare the body for labour by strengthening your core muscles (abdominal area) and pelvis while also improving balance and posture. Additionally, it helps with any aches or pains in the back during pregnancy that may come from changes to hormone levels.
  3. People with arthritis: Pilates can help with any joint pain associated with the condition.
  4. Weight loss: The practice of Pilates is not specifically designed for weight loss, but it does involve a lot of exercise and physical activity, which will lead to an increase in metabolism that helps you burn calories more efficiently.
  5. Cancer survivors: Because rehabilitation following cancer treatment often includes a limited amount of physical activity, Pilates can help restore strength and improve coordination.
  6. People with obesity: The practice of Pilates is not specifically designed for weight loss or to treat issues related to being overweight, but it does involve a lot of exercises which will lead to an increase in metabolism that helps you burn calories more efficiently.
  7. Older adults: Pilates can help maintain the muscle strength, mobility and activity levels that come with aging by training your core muscles (abdominal area) which control breathing. It also improves balance through a series of movements.
  8. People recovering from surgery: Physical therapy following some types of surgeries may not include much physical activity, so Pilates can help restore strength and improve coordination.
  9. Women who have had a C-section: The practice of Pilates is not specifically designed for women following childbirth, but it does involve a lot of exercises which will lead to an increase in metabolism that helps you burn calories more efficiently.
  10. People with Parkinson's Disease: The practice of Pilates is not specifically designed for people with Parkinson's Disease, but it does involve a lot of exercises which will lead to an increase in metabolism that helps you burn calories more efficiently.
  11. Menopause: The practice of Pilates can help reduce the risk factors associated with menopausal symptoms, including low back pain, hot flashes and fatigue.
  12. People with diabetes: The practice of Pilates is not specifically designed for people with diabetes, but it does involve a lot of exercises which will lead to an increase in metabolism that helps you burn calories more efficiently.
  13. Joint pain: If your symptoms are related to arthritis, then the benefits may be similar as listed above under "arthritis." If your symptoms are related to any other joint condition, then the benefits may be similar as listed above under "people with Parkinson's Disease" and "Cancer survivors".
  14. People recovering from a stroke: Pilates can help improve movement coordination. Exercise has also been proven to increase blood flow to areas of the brain that have been affected.
  15. People with dementia: The practice of Pilates can help improve memory and cognitive function.
  16. People recovering from injuries or surgery on their lower extremities, such as a hip replacement: Physical therapy following some types of surgeries may not include much physical activity, so Pilates can help restore strength and balance in the body while also improving coordination.


Next Steps

The Next Steps for you if you want to start practising Pilates

If you want to start practising pilates, we recommend that you find a Pilates teacher. There are a lot of instructors out there, but not all are created equally.

Some may be more suited to your needs than others, and some might have better rates for beginners or other special programs depending on what kind of physical condition/body type you have.

The key is finding someone who can customize their teaching to you.

You can also find a lot of information about the Pilates method on your own and, if this interests you, go ahead and start practising it at home too!

It just takes a little time and dedication before seeing any results. The more often that you practice pilates exercises, the better your body will become at performing them.

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To wrap up on the question - what is pilates about?

I hope this article has been helpful to you and that we've answered your questions about Pilates.

There are so many places where people can practice Pilates. Still, the key is finding a place without distractions like traffic noise if possible because it makes it easier to focus on the movement aspect of the exercise.

One thing that's really great about doing Pilates at home is that there are no set rules as long as one follows some basic safety guidelines, such as not working out while lying flat on one’s back with an injured spine/back.

So feel free to do them in bed, on the floor, anywhere suitable for you.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below. 


Pilates Gears


More Resources: 

The Pilates Bible

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

https://www.tonepilates.ca

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well


About the Author Funmi

Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses. 

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