When I was a child, my dad signed my family up for the local YMCA, swim lessons, skiing lessons and encouraged us to run road races.  Thanks to these experiences, I became very passionate about exercise, which led me to study physical fitness during college.  I have had the privilege of spending most of my adult life doing what I love; being a fitness instructor.  Today, I would like to talk about Pilates – the exercise I’ve come to love most.

Pilates is a very unique combination of strengthening and stretching exercises developed over a hundred years ago by Joseph H. Pilates.  The fitness industry is constantly attempting to generate innovative trends to keep us fit and healthy.  Despite new trends, Pilates has stood the test of time and is a tried and true formula.

The Benefits of Pilates

There are many reasons why I love Pilates, but at the top of my list are the following:

  1. Pilates moves are very graceful yet challenging
  2. Pilates gives a lot of attention to alignment
  3. It focuses on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness

Core Strengthening

The main benefit of Pilates is the strengthening of your abdominal and back muscles, which support your whole body whether you’re moving or at rest.  Pilates also engages the pelvic floor muscles and creates a strong, but lean and balanced body.  This can reduce the risk of physical injury in daily activities. 

Lean Body Sculpting Through Realignment

Joseph Pilates believed that imbalances and habitual patterns of moving could cause injuries.  The logic was that if you are weak in one area, the rest of the body would have to support the imbalance.  To resolve this, he focused on creating exercises based around realigning the body.  As a result, the exercises help to redefine posture, having the capability of creating the illusion of a 6-pound weight loss!  Who doesn’t want that? 

Beyond the Physical: A Mind-Body Connection

Many people who aren’t big fans of conventional sports are pleased to discover that Pilates requires few repetitions per exercise when compared to others.  It’s not about how much you sweat, how many hours you train or how many advanced exercises you complete, but about giving your full effort and concentration to maximize the potential rewards of each exercise.  All in all, it’s about how well you create a mind-body connection. 

Pilates exercises are very subtle to the eye and extend beyond physical actions.  This attention to detail and concentration given to the movements can even challenge elite professional athletes.  When performed correctly, even the simplest of movements can be incredibly challenging! 

Trying Pilates for the First Time

Hopefully, I have convinced you to give Pilates a try.  Don’t worry if during your first session, it seems hard to you.  This is a good thing!  All exercises are supposed to be a little challenging.  With more sessions, you will be able to hone into the contractions of your abdominals and feel the true rewards.  Most importantly, remember to breathe!  Breathing and feeling the power in breath pauses is the key component of the exercise.

My Students’ Testimonials

Are you still not convinced?  Here are some testimonials from my Pilates students:

  • “My spine feels more flexible and stronger than ever.  My abdominals are also tauter!”
  • “The change in my posture brought about more confidence and people think I’ve lost weight.”
  • “It’s the first exercise I’ve actually stuck with.”
  • “I feel lighter, have less aches and pains, have better balance and actually have core strength.  The best part?  I actually enjoy Pilates!”

Related Links

Flexibility Training 101
 

Swimming: An Essential Life Skill 

The Top 5 Fitness Myths Busted

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trish Marfione, ACSM cPT

Trish has made it her life mission to help people achieve good health and vitality through fitness and balanced nutrition. She loves teaching whether it’s teaching at school, coaching gymnastics, hosting nutrition lectures, leading group exercise or personal training sessions.  Trish has a BS in Education with a minor in Physical Education as well as a MS in Education. She is an AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor, Stott Pilates Certified in Mat and Reformer, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritional Counselor and a Cancer Exercise Specialist through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute as well as Breast Cancer Survivor’s Fitness Plan (Y Pink Program). Additionally, Trish is TRX Certified and is a Total Control Instructor for Bladder and Pelvic Health.