Pilates is a form of low-intensity workout regime, which focuses on the strengthening of the core and abdominal muscles, improving flexibility of the body and helping in postural alignment. Most people find it similar to Yoga, but Pilates is a more effective way of building muscle endurance and activating one’s entire body during every movement in the workout. Pilates apparatus includes portable equipment like weights, magic circles and resistance bands and larger pieces of equipment like ilates Chairs, Cadillac, barrels and Reformer.
There are two types of Pilates exercises: Reformer Pilates and Mat Pilates.
A Pilates reformer is a piece of equipment with a flat platform (carriage) on wheels that can slide back and forth. The carriage is attached to a set of adjustable strings which give resistance and are to be moved with the help of arms and legs, depending upon one’s ability and strength. At the end of the reformer, there is an adjustable foot bar to provide more support to the strings. A reformer accommodates motion through the pushing and pulling of arms and legs with resistance. Different types of reformer exercises for beginners are Footwork, The Frog, Elephant, Leg Circles on Reformer and The Short Box with Flat Back and Round Back. Reformer Pilates is gaining popularity among many professional athletes, dancers, actresses and models to tone their body and get lean muscles, along with stabilizing their spine and back. Reformers are provided in many mainstream gyms across India. It is highly recommended to train under a certified fitness instructor for a beginner to watch out for their movements and prevent any injuries.
An equipment-free, easily accessible and functional type of Pilates is mat Pilates which can be incorporated easily into one’s existing workout regime and can be easily be done anywhere, even at home. The exercises are performed on a Pilates mat, which is slightly thicker and wider than a regular Yoga mat to provide more support during different movements in core exercises. It is very crucial to have correct posture and form while doing any exercise. It is advisable to wear comfortable fitting clothes and non-slippery socks during the session so that the body form is easily analysed by a trainer and can be improved. Some exercises in Mat Pilates involve basic equipment like Pilates ring, resistance band or weighted balls. For a beginner, several mat exercises are The Hundred, Toe Taps, Side Plank, The Swan, Criss Cross etc. With time, each exercise can be performed with numerous variations and modifications depending on one’s comfort.
Pilates exercises should be always be performed with controlled deep breathing and proper concentration. Focusing on body movements should always synchronize with maintaining its balance. Coordinated breathing patterns play an important role when performing Pilates, one should always try inhaling through their nose directing the breath into the side of the ribs slowly, not forcefully, and exhaling through their mouth to expel the air outside the ribs. This specific breathing technique facilitates abdomen muscle activation and helps in oxygenating the blood.
Benefits of Pilates
There are a lot of benefits of this style of exercise, from reducing one’s back ache to becoming stronger with minimal effort. If someone had any injuries recently and feel the need to get back on track and stay active, a Pilates workout can be the most suitable for them for muscle recovery and can be a part of their physiotherapy program. The best part about Pilates is that people from any age group, under any circumstances, can practice it. An amateur, a pregnant woman, someone who is moderately into fitness, or a fitness freak, anyone can give it a try because the benefits that Pilates offers make it accessible to all. As Joseph Hubertus Pilates, a physical fitness expert who invented Pilates rightly said “Pilates is a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”, it proves to be the most effective fitness routine when a person’s mind, body and spirit are integrated with each other in every movement and, with precision.
A Pilates session, unlike aerobic activities or intense cardio, wouldn’t necessarily leave a person super sweaty and sore, but it will target muscles of the whole body and make them stronger and more flexible, which in turn, will utilize the energy levels and one will eventually end up losing their overall body fat. A 10-20 minutes Pilates workout, three times a week, would help anyone lose weight, improve body posture and will add grace to the movements, one will feel better, both physically and mentally.
Depending on a person’s body weight, intensity and levels, A Pilates workout is expected to burn around 200-450 calories in each reformer class session. If you are a beginner, you can always supplement your learning by taking up an online course, streaming video sessions on YouTube, attending group classes at many dedicated gyms/fitness studios under a professional Pilates instructor.
Pilates should be a part of every fitness regime because it would help in core stabilizing, improving muscle endurance and will prepare a person to move their body gracefully and give them the desired results with ease and fun!
Learn Pilates through Radhika Karle‘s unluclass where she has shared her experience and explained Pilates in detail. In her online pilates class, she has covered topics such as – The history of Pilates, breathing techniques, thoracic breathing, functional and core exercises, posture, and nutrition.