This series into group exercise classes you can find at your local gym has gone from low-intensity in the form of yoga, to high-intensity in spinning.
Back to a low intensity workout now, and we’re getting the mats out again as we take a look at Pilates.
This is a great all-round exercise that can be used by everyone from ballet dancers to bodybuilders.
It comes packed with benefits, both physical and mental, and a group class is always a great addition to everyone’s workout routine.
What is Pilates?
Pilates focusses on the core muscles. While it is easy to think the core is solely the abs, there are plenty of other muscles which actually make up this group, including transverse abdominis, obliques, diaphragm, and even your glutes and traps.
Your core is an incredibly important muscle group, and a strong core can help stop back pain by improving your overall posture.
Through exercises such as planks, leg stretches, scissor kicks and many more, the centre of your body gets a real workout during a Pilates class.
But it’s not all focussed on the core. Pilates can work the whole body. When holding postures and making movements, there may be a focus on arms or legs, and this will all have a benefit on toning this area of the body.
At the heart of it though is the core, and you may find this muscle group (all the muscles that stabilize your mid trunk) really benefits from a few sessions a week.
A low-intensity exercise, Pilates is another great way of merging your body and mind, and if you can slow down your breathing and relax while taking part in a class, it could provide a real boost to your mental health.
Now, at this point, you may be thinking that this sounds a lot like yoga, but there are some differences.
Let’s take a look.
What is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?
The main difference between yoga and Pilates is the focus.
While yoga is heavily centred around the spiritual side of things, Pilates is more of an exercise, and gives your muscles more of a workout than a yoga class.
Yoga’s deep history of its Asians origins bears a stark contrast to the origins of Pilates, which was created in Germany in the early 20th century.
The spiritual aspect of yoga means there is often emphasis on slowing your body down and not putting it under too much strain. The idea is to find a posture and hold it.
In Pilates, it is different, as when you are in a position, the aim is to push yourself by moving your body and putting pressure on your core.
While this won’t allow you to relax as much, it will certainly have more of a strength benefit.
A History of Pilates
Pilates was created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates (hence why it needs a capital letter) who was a physical trainer.
While held in an internment camp during World War One, Pilates began to develop a series of exercises that were aimed to provide a workout for the body and the mind. He tested these on other internees.
When returning back to his native Germany after the war, he carried on treating returning soldiers with his exercises, whilst also spreading his new methods to a wider audience.
Two books followed in the 1930s and 1940s, and before long, Pilates had spread across the world.
The Average Pilates Class
If you like the sound of Pilates and you’re thinking of joining a class, then that’s great!
Here’s what you’ll find.
Much like a yoga class, there will be one instructor and all mats will be pointing towards them. This instructor will be the focal point of the class and will instruct all participants on which postures to hold, what to move, and when.
The lesson usually lasts around 45 minutes, which is plenty of time to give your body and mind a thorough workout.
The idea of a Pilates class is to be comfortable and relaxed, despite putting your core muscles under pressure, so try and wear something that fits this and avoid anything too restrictive.
The Effects of Regular Pilates Classes
There are many benefits of joining a Pilates group class, including:
A huge part of Pilates is stretching.
Many postures involve bending and flexing your arms, legs, and core, and this leads to a big increase in flexibility.
Your muscles go through a long period of stretching, and if you go to a couple of classes a week, you are sure to soon find that you’re touching your toes in no time.
Get to Meet Plenty of People
Pilates classes are a great place to meet someone.
It’s not such a high intensity workout that you are struggling to communicate as you leave the hall, and often has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
After a class, when everyone is feeling relaxed, it’s a great place to have a chat with like-minded people who obviously share common interests.
Increased Strength in Core
The big one when it comes to Pilates, is an increase in core strength.
Nearly every exercise in this discipline is focussed on activating the core, and this can come with huge benefits to a person’s mobility.
Through doing the exercises and building your core, you will soon find that your balance and stability are heavily improved, and it may even help tone up some of your body as you go!
What’s not to love?
Joining a Pilates Class
If you’ve read this blog and think a Pilates class would be great for you, then why not take a look at our upcoming classes?
If you’re based around the Northwood, Ruislip, Harrow, Uxbridge areas and beyond, then why not pop down to Trojan Fitness. We have a state-of-the-art gym and cater for customers of all fitness levels.
Want to know more? Then get in touch today.