Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s to assist athletes and dancers to recover from injury and return to their activity. Pilates is a series of exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga, and ballet. It works with your body to lengthen and stretch all the major muscle groups in a balanced fashion. Among the many benefits of Pilates, it physically improves flexibility, strength, balance, and body awareness.
A big part of Pilates is the concentration and rhythm involved; each exercise requires concentration for it to be performed correctly, and a particular breathing pattern is also necessary for the greatest benefit. On top of this, there is a large emphasis on proper hip and spine alignment with each exercise – which, you can imagine, also requires a lot of concentration. This is why Pilates is so well known for being great for mental health as well as physical health.
Pilates sequences can be tailored to each individual, with the routine and specific exercises re-evaluated regularly to ensure they’re appropriate. Mat Pilates is done using your own body weight and gravity as your resistance, while other pieces of equipment can also be used (for example, reformer machines) to add further resistance. This means that Pilates is extremely accessible for everybody including those with limited mobility or low fitness levels, pregnant women, and even elite athletes. It is a highly effective form of exercise, while being low impact and only partially weight bearing, making it very well suited to rehabilitation as well. In addition to being so accessible for people of all abilities and fitness levels, Pilates also has limitless progression; because you are always using your own body weight as the resistance, you will never ‘finish’ Pilates, you will endlessly improve and benefit from the exercises.
With such a huge range of health benefits, including (but certainly not limited to): improved flexibility; improved posture; improved balance; mental clarity; relaxation of upper back, neck, and shoulder joints; stress relief and relaxation; and increased body awareness, you can see why Pilates has gained such popularity over recent years.
Finally, the general consensus is that Pilates, quite simply, makes you feel good. You can literally see the impact a single class has on a participant if you compare the way they walk in – hunched, stressed, tired – and the way they walk out – refreshed, tall, smiling.
For those of you left thinking, ‘yes, okay, but what about yoga? What’s the difference? We’ve attached an interesting article from the Guardian below that helps to break it down. Click here to have a read.
We are thrilled to offer Pilates at PHP, with Suzanne Pilates. We invite you to give Pilates a go at one of the mat classes, conducted each Wednesday evening at 7pm.
Visit suzannepilates.com or contact us for more information.