Here’s an experiment for you: Watch a group of people as they go into the gym or fitness centre for their Pilates session. What do you see? You’ll see people who can’t wait to begin their class and sweat out their stress on the mat. Now watch them when they’re leaving. What do you see? You’ll see toned, taut muscles, and smiling faces that beam with an unbridled sense of achievement. There are many benefits of Pilates, and we’re going to talk about them all here, but the biggest one is the feeling of pure joy that you’ll experience throughout your practice.
Pilates is one of the best ways to build core strength, and is widely accepted as a means for physical exercise and has been linked to a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
What makes Pilates so special?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that targets the core or ‘powerhouse’ muscles. These are the muscles around the hips, stomach and pelvis that keep us stable and upright. The workout also improves balance, flexibility, posture and body awareness. While classes can go for around an hour, the focus is not on exhausting yourself, but on concentration, breathing and placement.
And most importantly, Pilates is for everyone. As long as you’re working with a Pilates instructor to start with, you don’t have to be super fit to try it.
Mend your mind with Pilates
Pilates is also great for your mind and keeping calm. The practice uses many elements of meditation, which helps with achieving this sense of peace and stress management. Pilates can also help you become more mindful, which can lead to an overall sense of wellbeing.
Interestingly, Pilates is also linked to increased brainpower and has the potential to improve brain function.
Let’s get physical
Pilates is fantastic for getting your body looking lean, sculpted and toned. This is because the movements are designed to lengthen and tighten the muscles instead of bulking them up. Pilates also focuses on core strength and the belief that if your powerhouse is strong, the rest of the body will follow suit. Inevitably, this can lead to a pretty enviable mid-section!
The aesthetic benefits are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the perks of pilates. Aside from making the body more functional for daily life, Pilates can lower the risk of injury. It’s also a favourite with athletes as it can work to improve sports performance and bone density. Additionally, Pilates is an effective cure for back pain and can even help to increase lung capacity, thanks to its positive effect on breathing.
These are some of the benefits of Pilates:
Improved spatial awareness: The practice of Pilates focuses on balance, mobility, and strength. In each session, you will perform a series of moves using your core to centre and power your exercise. One of benefits of Pilates is the increased spatial awareness and coordination as you get more confident in your body.
Lowered stress levels: While any exercise is a stress-buster, you’ll feel truly powerful and light after sweating it out in a Pilates class. The practice of Pilates utilizes your whole body and pushes you to challenge yourself. With each milestone you reach, you’ll have a feeling of achievement and confidence, and a rush of serotonin, the feel-good hormone.
Lower injury risk: With regular practice, one of the greatest benefits of Pilates is a stronger, more resilient body. When you develop a stronger core, your chances of back pain, hip pain, and neck and shoulder pain are reduced. With stronger arms and legs, you’ll find it easier to lift heavy objects, play with your kids or your pet for longer, and participate in the sports and hobbies that you love.
Better posture: Look at someone who has a regular Pilates practice. They stand with a straight spine, well aligned neck and shoulders, and firmly placed feet. Pilates builds the core – the most important set of muscles for good posture. And as we all know, better posture means less body pain and a happier, healthier old age.
Low impact exercise: Pilates can be performed entirely on the mat if necessary, has equipment like the Reformer which is designed to be low-impact, and can be adapted to your body. It is often prescribed (in its clinical Pilates avatar) for recovery from injury and aches. With a Pilates instructor guiding you, you can exercise without causing damage to joints.
Increased brain power: A study conducted in 2015 by the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society looked at 155 women who did strength training eight times a month for a year. They found improved memory, less brain atrophy, and better functioning of cognitive processes like attention control and mental flexibility. With a regular practice, one of the benefits of Pilates will be a sharper, smarter you.
Boosted flexibility: While Pilates works on your strength, it also encourages better flexibility of your spine and limbs. Some exercises ignore flexibility for the sake of building mass and muscle, but with Pilates, your body will become more powerful, but you’ll improve your flexibility. This is a great way to make sure you are less vulnerable to injuries and sprains.
Longer, tighter muscles: All of us exercise to feel good and look good, and Pilates is an incredible way to do both. When you practice regularly, you’ll notice your legs and arms looking more taut and toned as the muscles become longer. Your posture improves, making you look more attractive and feel more energetic.
Improved core strength: A stronger, more resilient core is one of the biggest benefits of Pilates, and possibly the reason behind the popularity of this form of exercise. With a strong core, you will be less prone to injury, you’ll have more energy, you’ll be able to perform your daily chores easily, and you’ll have better posture.
Pilates has so many benefits but can seem a little daunting at first. Avaana helps make your journey smoother by connecting you with an experienced instructor. Get ready to activate your core, focus your mind, unwind and feel fabulous!