12 Oct Pilates, is it all its hyped up to be?
So, what actually is Pilates and how much do you really know about it? Is it all that its hyped up to be? Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Jadi Lacco, investigates.
If you thought Pilates was just another celebrity trend, you are probably not alone. The popularity of this method has grown immensely over the past 20 years and it has been pretty hard to avoid the hype thanks to its high profile in magazines and on television and social media. So, what actually is Pilates and how much do you really know about it? Is it all that its hyped up to be?
What is Pilates?
It has been practiced for well over 100 years. Originally named “Contrology,” this method of movement was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s and the basic foundations are still honoured within the numerous different forms of Pilates that have emerged and are flooding the market today. Essentially, it is a method of exercise and movement intended to improve strength, flexibility, muscular control, body awareness and posture. It is slow, gentle on the joints and low impact. Sounds easy right? Wrong! When performed correctly and with the upmost precision, can be very challenging for even the most experienced of athletes.
Why is posture important?
In today’s world as we all sit more, move less and become increasing more reliant on our electronics at work and at home, our posture is losing out. Hours on end of hunching forward at the computer or phone, or even driving the car, cooking in the kitchen or reading a book; all promotes poor posture. These activities cause the shoulders to round forward leading to tight muscles through the neck, shoulders and chest. It also causes the chin to fall forward and core to weaken, which can lead to a host of issues including muscle tightness and weakness, muscular imbalances and of course, pain.
So what does this have to do with Pilates?
Pilates is an awesome mode of exercise for improving the posture and targeting all of these issues that arise as a result of poor posture. Pilates offers a balance between stretching and strengthening exercises, stretching the muscles that typically tighten as a result of our lifestyles and strengthening those that are typically weak; as well as postural improvement exercises and deep core strengthening. Pilates achieves this deep core strengthening by targeting not only the outer abdominals, but also the underlying stabilizing core muscles that will help to prevent and/or treat back pain. Pilates helps to educate on correct movement patterns and brings awareness to correct posture in everyday life.
Who is Pilates suitable for?
Pilates really is suitable for everyone, from the fresh beginner right through to the elite athlete. Pilates is also growing in the rehabilitation world, with more and more research supporting the benefits of Pilates and core strengthening as part of recovery from injury.
The question still remains, is it all that it is hyped up to be?
According to the research, health professionals far and wide and millions of participants around the world, YES IT IS. Is Pilates a complete and well-rounded exercise regime? No, it is not. Traditional Pilates alone does not meet the recommended daily exercise guidelines and it is not a cardiovascular workout. What it will do is perfectly complement your other forms of exercise and best of all, it will help to make you feel great!
Are you ready to give it a go? Here are some beginner’s tips!
Exercise Right’s top 4 tips to get started
- Start with a beginner’s class. It is important to perfect the basic foundations of Pilates before progressing to more advanced exercises. Although beginner exercises may appear simple, they can actually be quite challenging to master!
- Find a well-qualified instructor to allow you to get the most of the experience
- Go in with an open and positive mind and have patience, it may take several classes to really start to feel the difference
- If you have or have had an injury or health condition which concerns you, you may be best to start out in a clinical or rehabilitation Pilates class run by a Physiotherapist or Accredited Exercise Physiologist before progressing to a generalised Pilates class.