Dec 20, 2021 / By Lara Hassan
It is the one and only workout with all benefits any body needs. A unique and timeless method taught by “ a genius of the body” Joseph Pilates.
Yes you read it, it sure is! Why?
Because it works, Pilates just works. It is a method that works with your body and not against it. What I mean by this is that it can be adapted to any fitness level or age group. Some methods can be effective and beneficial for only one aspect of physical conditioning. Pilates surpasses any other form of training by working the body with integrity.
I started practicing pilates years ago, when I say years I mean more than 15 years ago… I studied sports science and have been a gym bunny most of my life, it wasn’t until I discovered pilates, that my body started changing. Pilates helped me feel stronger, especially as I’m 5ft11, I needed a strong back and core to stand correctly and move gracefully.
Pilates made me feel more agile; it taught me how to carry myself and work against gravity, the thing that all my gym years never taught me. My running improved, my lung capacity also did and I got a great understanding of how my feet worked and their relationship to the rest of the body.
In a few words, I understood the mechanics of the body and realised that we don’t have to live all our lives thinking that we can’t change our shape; we can with Pilates.
Pilates brings the body into balance, works your core and improves your posture and flexibility.
It gives you a sense of self–awareness, improves your coordination and heals your aches and pains if you have any. Our minds need as much training as our bodies, pilates does that for you.
As a teacher, I have seen many clients, who show commitment to their body and the method, transform their physique, with the way they look and feel. I have helped all sorts of people from professional athletes, singers, models to pregnant women, as well as office workers who work long hours hunched over a desk and yet others to recover from injuries with rehab work.
A good session will massage your body from the inside out. You should feel refreshed and energized.
Joseph Pilates said:
“This is the equivalent of an “internal shower”. As the spring freshness born of the heavy rains and vast masses of melting snows on mountains in the hinterlands cause rivers to swell and rush turbulently onward to the sea, so too will your blood flow with renewed vigor as the direct result of your faithfully performing the Contrology exercises.”
The “internal shower” brings vitality to your internal organs, ridding them of toxins and helping to eliminate any stress or tension, resulting in fewer headaches, less tension and fatigue and more vitality!
Romana Kryzanowska, one of Joe Pilates elders, whose methodology I have followed for years, described pilates in few words:
“Pilates can be described as 3 words, stretch with strength and control, and the control part is the most important, because that’s what makes you use your mind!”
I am particularly interested in the control aspect of the method, it is astonishing how much difference it makes to one’s performance and shape.
Problems in the body cause stagnation, restricting movement and breath can cause ailments, tension and headaches.
Focused breath helps us access areas of stagnation, areas of emotional tension and provides us with a deeper sense of awareness and connection. When you learn how to use the mind to help the breath travel into specific areas, you are also training your mind to work with the body by improving co-ordination and therefore gaining trust in your ability to move and exercise. Gaining confidence in your body and in oneself is then reflected in other aspects of life not just exercise.
Pilates is a method that can be done as a base of any other activity you want to do. If you are swimmer, a runner, a gymnast, a dancer, a cyclist, a boxer, a pregnant woman or recovering from having a baby, pilates is good for you!
It brings the body back into balance, it helps you get rid of what is locked and inflexible enabling it to move freely again. Tension creates tightness, the body stops moving in certain area to protect or avoid feeling that tension, pilates mobilizes what needs to move and stabilizes the muscles you need to keep your body working uniformly and coherently.
There is not one muscle in the body that pilates doesn’t utilize or an area that it doesn’t access. It is a workout for the whole body.
Before you start taking up pilates ask yourself:
What is my goal?
Will I be committed to my sessions and body?
What is my plan to improve and get healthier?
Once you choose your pilates studio or teacher, bear in mind that pilates studios should be fully equipped with all apparatus not just a reformer.
There is no such thing as reformer pilates, in pilates.
What is popular at the moment is a fitness workout taught on apparatus. They base their training on working the muscles until they fail, pilates however, does not do this.
In pilates the repetitions are no more than 8 to avoid building up lactic acid which is toxic and causes inflammation in the body.
Try to exercise 3-4 times a week, learn your progressions and practice at home once you feel you understand how your body moves and the method.
A classical pilates workout follows certain progressions, if a class doesn’t follow those progressions, it is not pilates.
Physiotherapists and some schools of contemporary pilates have changed and added many exercises, which has caused the method to loose its essence and flow. Pilates is a complete system that doesn’t need modifications when understood and done correctly.
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
Enjoy yourself while you exercise, have fun, and be positive that change will happen. It all depends on how much you want it.