10 Reasons to do Pilates: Reasons why Pilates is good for you!
Source: Boston Magazine
Being active isn’t always easy. Sometimes life gets busy and when it does, that’s when it’s hard to stick to a goal. Knowing your “why” is the key to motivation during the toughest times. Understanding the many benefits of Pilates exercises can be your “why” and can help you achieve your Pilates goals. Here are 10 reasons to start — and stick to — Pilates exercises.
What are Pilates exercises and why do it?
Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that targets the core muscles which can help aid the body in 3 ways:
But what does Pilates do for you? These are just general benefits of Pilates— the tip of the iceberg. There are other reasons why you should do Pilates but before we begin, there are 6 core Pilates principles you should familiarise yourself with.
6 Core Pilates Principles
Knowing these principles are only the beginning of how Pilates can change your mind, your body, and your life for the better:
Concentration. Performing Pilates movements correctly requires more medication than you might think. If you cannot perform them correctly, the benefits and effects of Pilates immediately decrease.
Control. Mastering control over your body is one of the most beneficial outcomes of Pilates exercises. When you can make your body do something it doesn’t necessarily want to do, you have control and can implement this control in other areas of your life.
Centering. The “powerhouse” is a common term in Pilates, referring mainly to the core and glutes. All exercises should start using your “powerhouse” and let it flow out to the limbs.
Flow. There is so much transition between Pilates movements. What visually differentiates between a beginner and an expert is how well they can transition between each exercise.
Precision. In Pilates, it is not about how many exercises you perform, but how well you do them. Pilates is about aiming for correctness and the perfect movement.
Breathing. Coordination between each Pilates movement and each breath is key. Breathing in and breathing out should be timed along with the movement. Your instructor will help guide you through to help you produce the desired results.
1. Adaptable to your fitness level
One of the best reasons why you should do Pilates is because it is adaptable. Starting any form of exercise can be intimidating but in Pilates, it does not matter what your fitness level is. Pilates exercises can be adjusted to fit your needs and what you want to achieve with the help of your instructor.
During classes, if you ever feel pressure to perform the movement up to par or do everything at a certain speed, stop! There are no expectations except to just do what you can; so don’t worry about what other people are doing and adjust the exercises if you need to!
2. Build strength (not bulk)
Building long and lean muscle is one of the many physical benefits of Pilates. A desire for a toned, leaner look can’t always be achieved with other forms of exercise (e.i. Some weight-lifting) but Pilates low-impact movements are perfect for engaging and strengthening the entire body at once.
Because many exercises are often static and use your core in addition to your whole body, you will feel stronger and healthier without the body-builder bulk!
3. Improves flexibility and balance
Although Pilates focuses more on strength, there are still exercises that will challenge you and help increase flexibility. And flexibility stabilises the joints. Many other Pilates exercises are static poses which focus on improving balance.
Improving both of these aspects will not only strengthen your body and keep you healthy but it will also both prevent and help you bounce back from injury.
4. Develop core strength/stability
The core, otherwise known as the “powerhouse” includes the abdominal muscles as well as the pelvic floor muscles and glutes and is what Pilates exercises revolve around. After a workout, you will surely feel your abs and glutes burning.
Strengthening the core will aid in helping you perform the other exercises so that you can work other groups of muscles better. Pilates is one of the best ways to not only get that toned flat stomach, but it improves your overall strength and stability throughout the entire body.
5. Strengthen the pelvic floor
Even though this muscle might be overlooked by some, it’s vitally important and strengthening it can be one of the best things you can do for your body. Pelvic floor muscles are most often noticed when they are weak (usually support of the organs or openings to them will be compromised when it is).
Doing Pilates exercises can keep the pelvic floor muscles strong.
For women who want to get pregnant, practicing Pilates exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help prepare the muscles since they work extra hard during pregnancy.
6. Improves energy
Sometimes it feels like energy is hard to come by during busy days. If your job involves sitting most of the time, Pilates exercises can help boost your mood and energy levels. Exercising produces endorphins, the “happiness hormone,” which will help you feel more energised. Pilates breathing exercises help expand lung capacity which aid in better breathing.
After Pilates, you can usually get a “second-wind” due to the collective breathing, the focus on your body (instead of the stressors of the day), and the release of endorphins.
7. Provides 6 principles to use for life
There is more to Pilates than just physical benefits; there are mental benefits of Pilates exercises too. The 6 basic principles of Pilates (centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, flow) that were listed above can be applied to our daily lives— whether that’s in the midst of chaos, in personal relationships, or at work.
Whatever the case, Pilates provides a stable mantra to follow when things get tough both in and outside of the studio.
8. Increases self-control
One of the 6 basic Pilates principles is “control” and by being able to do just that when all your muscles are screaming to collapse is a form of self-mastery. By being able to control your body to do what you want it to do in Pilates, even if it wants something else, you win at self-control.
Sometimes life throws us so many curveballs and we feel out of control. But having control over your body can be one of the first steps to gaining control over yourself and your life.
9. Reduces stress
Pilates can be used as a place where your brain turns off to the rest of the world and is focused only on you. If you’re focused on others the entire day or your job or school, it’s time to make time for yourself and your body.
Pilates can be a time where you release endorphins, feel happy, give your brain something attainable to focus on, and breathe.
10. Boost self esteem
One of the best Pilates mental benefits is self esteem. Low confidence is something almost everyone has struggled with at one point or another and fighting that mentality can be such a challenge. With Pilates, you train your brain to think what it needs to, even if it wants to wander, just like you are training your body to hold a pose even though it doesn’t want to.
As you put yourself first and discover energy, reduced stress, and self-control, self-esteem will skyrocket. Self-mastery and self-love is the first step to gaining confidence.
A Good Pilates Routine
A good Pilates routine should include enough workout that you see improvement but not too much to where your body is unable to handle it. A good Pilates routine will leave room for your body to rest and recover in between classes. After your first sessions, you will most likely feel a little sore. Don’t worry, that is normal and actually good because your muscles are getting stronger.
Workout 3-5 times a week
You should do Pilates at least 3-5 times a week, whether that is at the studio or through a virtual class. Getting a membership at a Pilates studio will ensure that an instructor can help you figure out the best schedule for you.
Most people will have a good workout after 20 minutes but, depending on the workout, a Pilates class can last up to 45 minutes.
Stick to a schedule
If you sign up for in-person studio classes, there are different times to sign up for. But if you decide to do virtual classes, some can be taken anytime and anywhere. If you decide to do virtual pilates classes, make sure you set a schedule for yourself (can you workout in the morning, afternoon, or evening?).
Keep track of progress
It is easier to keep to your routine if you know where you are headed. If you have a certain goal, you can keep track of your progress by trying on certain clothes you hope to fit in or aiming to lift a certain weight. If you do Pilates purely for mental benefits, you can still keep track of your progress using a journal (maybe writing down the thoughts you were able to overcome that day).
Pilates is more than just a fitness programme— it can become a habit to implement in your daily life. It can also be a place to build community, if attending a group class. There are so many other benefits too many listed here that you will eventually discover.