Pilates is more than just a sweat-inducing, work-your-whole-body, make-you-feel-fantastic kind of workout – for those who practise regularly, the aim is to act as a mind-clearer, an energiser and a stress-reducer. So, why is this the ultimate in stress-busting exercises?
What is Pilates?
The first thing we need to know is just what is this type of exercise class and what are its origins?
Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany. He believed that mental and physical health are closely connected, and developed methods which drew influence from forms of exercise such as gymnastics, boxing and wrestling. In the 1920’s, Joseph Pilates moved to the USA, and opened up a studio in New York, where he began teaching his method.
Putting an emphasis on core strength, which in turn improves general fitness and wellbeing, the objective of this exercise technique is to strengthen the body in an even way. The movements involved, with or without apparatus, are suitable for every level of fitness, are are designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture and enhance mental awareness.
What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
Both of these develop balance, improve flexibility and posture and encourage good breathing techniques, while using different methods. Although Yoga puts more emphasis on relaxation, and uses methods similar to meditation, both exercises emphasise the connection between physical and mental health. Yoga traditionally doesn’t require any equipment, whilst Pilates is generally performed on both a matt, and apparatus. Finally, Pilates is performed in a flow of movement, without the static ‘poses’ associated with yoga.
- Calms your mind – Pilates can be used to ease anxiety and depression, and lets those practising it concentrate on one thing only; their body. The calm nature of the exercises means that, whether you want to or not, you have to clear your mind of distractions. In fact, this is a perfect way to reap the benefits of meditation, without sitting still for a prolonged period of time!
- Exercises the whole body – the exercises involve focus on the core, while training the entire body as an integrated system. Not only does it improve flexibility and strength, it is also proven to help correct posture – by lengthening the spine – and increase your range of motion and muscle development.
- Connects your body and mind – when the concept was developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, he claimed it was about ‘the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit’. The motions and practises involved give complete attention to each movement by instructing the brain to release tension, control your movement, centre your mind and breath with precision.
Find out more about Pilates, or to join one of the classes at Dolphin Fitness Club.