Need flexibility, core strength, muscle synergy, concentration and fitness all together? Then pilates is the right workout for you! Read the complete guide to master the art.
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century…
This post has 3000+ words content, it may be difficult for you to digest it in single read, so I have made buttons for you to jump into a particular section. If you are reading first time, I suggest you to read from beginning to end.
Some gym goers still think Pilates is some strange kind of viral infection or a foreign plant, not fit for human consumption! This is a crying shame, because if they took the time to understand just how effective this exercise format is for not only relaxation, but also truly superb core strength and muscle synergy – they would lap it up in a heartbeat and add it into their training regime.
The beauty of Pilates is that it can be woven into the training routine of pretty much any individual you can think of. It’s universally beneficial, and this isn’t something you can say for the vast majority of exercise programs, routines and training methods seen in the fitness world today – any kind of athlete can use it to increase their flexibility, inner workings and to develop a deeper mind body connection.
Tri athletes, shot putters, footballers and even boxers… they can all benefit massively from undertaking Pilates.
Function, Rehabilitation & Strength
Functionality is certainly the first word that springs to mind when describing the purpose of this specific art, the kind of functionality that serves to enhance our day to day working, and our ability to perform physical tasks whilst also allowing us to develop the possession of an intricate bridge between the mind and body that makes us deeply “aware” of our physical placement at any given time, and how best we can manipulate our position to serve the current purpose of the physical body.
This is a very useful training method, and it really does make the “day to day” easier, as opposed to placing the body in positions that it simply wont encounter in any realistic sense in real life – this is perhaps why even bodybuilders, typically associated with being the most “die hard” and to a sense sheltered niche in the training world are even starting to hop on the Pilates train in the search for physical self betterment in an all together different way than they are used to.
With this in mind, it will probably come as no surprise that Pilates it self was created as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening – the creator was a man named Joseph Pilates, and his vision was to create a training method that would enhance the physical structure of the body and make it more “useful” for every day and sporting activities.
It’s interesting to note that Yoga has been around for centuries, and is often mistaken greatly with Pilates, so much so that to the untrained eye there is little difference between the two – in truth, it could be said that this is absolutely correct! There truly isn’t an ENORMOUS difference between the two disciplines, but the differences are large enough that each respective exercise format really does warrant its own name and structure.
Yoga focuses on the mind, body and spirit connection and makes great use of every element of the physical body to help create a well rounded, strong frame that is in touch with it self and capable of working closely with the mind to bring about inner peace and tranquility. It’s all about balance, and a deeper understanding of the self.
Breathing techniques are very complex and regimented here, they’re an intricate part of the process at hand and they form the glue between the mind and body to a larger extent than in Pilates.
In ways, some would describe Yoga as being more “delicate” in nature than it’s related cousin, but peril to the would be Yoga participant who turns up to an advanced class without prior preparation! They would be surprised at the challenge posed by such a class.
Though it is certainly more “mind” orientated than Pilates, it is certainly not easy, and would absolutely benefit the inner core workings of any eager participant. With this in mind, and having read my endorsements, you may be wondering why doing Pilates is something you would even want to consider!
Differing between yoga & Pilates…
This is where I must enlighten you about the distinct differences between the two disciplines and make you aware of their similar, but in fact very different nature.
Whilst all the former points about Yoga have been made in regards to the total body balance it provides, what Pilates does incredibly well is focus on the core and spinal network in a highly effective manner that allows the practitioner an incredibly high level of not only functionality, but also safety when performing physical exercise.
Too often does an underdeveloped core lead to injury, in fact, this is probably the most common reason for gym goers, athletes and anyone else undertaking a physical task to receive an injury in the first place.
Very often, the spinal column it self is an enormous issue for those undertaking physical activity, and many people seek to strengthen the area as a result – often going about the task in the completely wrong way.
The true key to protecting the spine, strengthening it and making it all together more mobile are to work on the inner core muscles individually, and the core unit as a whole. The strengthening of this area, and the structural integrity it provides for the spinal column it self are the very reason that Pilates has become such a popular and effective way to develop the stability and synergy of the entire physical body.
Not only that, but through this in depth understanding of the body’s foundations, it gives one a deeper understanding of the cognitive elements behind the majority of physical exercises, thus ensuring correct technique going forwards and a deeper focus on safety that many people simply do not possess.
This is truly a god-send, and something that millions of people taking part in physical activity all over the world today would do well to take on board.
Who was Joseph Pilates? A step back in time…
To understand Pilates more is to understand the man behind the movement – Joseph Pilates started his life far from being the natural athlete that many exercise formats owe their conception to.
In actual fact, Joe was quite a frail, inward child who in many ways was the antithesis of what it means to be a natural athlete or even exerciser.
He suffered from asthma and rickets amongst other afflictions, meaning his body was in a less than perfect state of fragility at all times, and as such, his respiratory function and structural integrity were very compromised when compared to that of a normal boy of his age.
It was through this wall of affliction that a drive and determination to succeed against all odds manifested it self and Joseph carved himself into a very competent gymnast, skier and diver – all of which totally conflicted with his natural ailments and would have been a complete disaster for many others in the same situation.
In the early 19th century, Joseph was living in England, teaching self-defense, boxing and even working as a circus performer. In this way, he was a polymath of the physical world, and studied a huge variety of disciplines – this in large led to an incredibly intricate understanding of the workings of the body, and the manner in which the mind connected with its every movement whilst performing physical activity.
Towards the end of the First World War, whilst serving as a hospital orderly on the Isle Of Man, he found himself working with patients who were unable to walk amongst other physical impairments that lead to him seeking an avenue to help rehabilitate them in a manner that was both functionally effective and safe at the same time.
It was during this period that he started adding bed springs to hospital beds, and thus his first major breakthrough came with a piece of equipment known as “the Cadillac” – the base design of which is still in use today although it has been modernized.
It was very shortly after this period that he and his wife Clara moved to New York, and taught the Pilates method in their new “body conditioning gym.”
Joe’s ideas were largely brought to life by his wife Clara, who became the principal instructor of Pilates and delivered Josephs message to the masses – in many ways, this female led class delivery has maintained to the present day as many instructors are still female in our modern classes.
This is of course not representative of anything in particular, but just an interesting side note that has become a near tradition.
The genius of Pilates
In terms of the wide spread recognition of the Pilates method, as with many of the greatest artists in our history, Joseph was a man recognized as a genius only after his death.
Though he did see serious success in his lifetime, more so in fact than some of the greatest instigators of our modern movements ever did, he sadly never realized his full potential and lived to see that potential delivered to millions with his own eyes – this instead became the work of the many, many followers his movement had created.
With this in mind, the Pilates solidified, systemized and fully realized it self as one of the most formidable creations in the fitness universe, yet at the same time, it was so much more – its principles weren’t simply centered on how best to achieve physical dominance in a sport or any other physical activity, they were actually devised with enhancing physical activity it self no matter what form it came in.
There are very few holistic systems like this, and they are truly worth every second of time invested in them in the pursuit of a more “complete” biological system. They can be very hard going for those who are used to a more “rugged” and what they deem to be “hands-on” training format, but the benefits they afford those with the patience to master them are vast in their nature to say the least.
The profound benefits of Pilates
Now that we have delved into the history of Pilates based exercise, and explained the contrasts it offers to Yoga – it is now a good time to offer a summary of the benefits and in fact pillars of strength that serve to hold up the Pilates house as a whole, and see it last for generations.
They are immensely simple in nature, yet mastering them all is for some, truly a life’s work. Joseph him self, when asked to emphasize what he deemed to be the most important aspect of his system, simply said “Above all – Learn how to breathe correctly.”
With this in mind, one needs to focus on the below aspects and the attainment of their mastery should they wish to reap every benefit Pilates has to offer to the fullest extent:
Notice how “Breath” is the first element listed, and in Joseph’s own words, also deemed to be the most important. This is absolutely no surprise, and as a personal trainer, more than any other element listed in the above list could I possibly more endorse that of the ability to control breathing in an effective, safe and useful manner.
Too often when exercising people tense their stomachs in an exaggerated form, leading to contortion over time of the inner core muscles, hyperventilation during cardiovascular exercise and an all together ineffective frame for fully utilizing oxygen and effectively performing movement.
Pilates teaches the body how to control its respiratory system Click To Tweet, even in the middle of physical stress, and as a result a great level of control of the movement of limbs, tendons and muscles comes to light, thus protecting especially the spinal column the the core plays such a vital part in protecting.
Second on the list is an art in it self, and only comes from the gathered poise of a body under total control.
Breathing allows one to steady themselves, whilst concentration allows them to enact the desires of the mind in the physical realm, with the full control needed to ensure those actions are undertaken in a safe and technically sound manner – all vital for the protection of the body’s structure and in turn its successful progression in all areas of physical endeavor. I found a good post to increase concentration power in pilates
Is an art mastered with time and great concentration – it is the ability to bring oneself back to the source of the moment, and the very reason they began to undertake movement in the first place.
This is often cited as being one of the main reasons that businessmen and those following stressful life styles follow disciplines like Pilates and Yoga – they need the ability to bring themselves back in line with their original intentions on command, something that the increasingly busy modern world makes difficult.
Something many modern gym users ignore and many could benefit from! There is little point in undertaking an activity that is not performed with the control needed to make it effective, otherwise it becomes not only ineffective, but also dangerous, risky and utterly detrimental to the overall vitality of the performer.
Control comes in not only physical, but also mental form, and the beauty of Pilates as with any discipline revolving around the steadied mind interacting seamlessly with the body, is that it allows the practitioner a state of inner discipline that standard and unstructured physical exercise a lone simply cannot afford.
Is of huge importance when undertaking any physical activity, not just within a sporting framework, but also the framework of life in general and living it! There is not one area of a persons life that cannot benefit from enhanced precision, and in terms of physical enactment, nothing could truly be more important and vital for progression.
Hundreds of thousands of people are performing physical activity on a daily basis, yet so, so many of them are doing so without a solid structure or end result in their minds eye – the precision delivered by Pilates in its every movement is not only important within the setting of the art it self, but also that of exercise at large, and the dire importance of ensuring that any action undertaken has relevance and a beneficial end result at the end of the path being walked down.
Something that takes place only when all of the previous elements have been practiced time and time again, and the body and mind are able to synergize in perfect harmony and perform all of the physical demands placed upon them.
Flow is literally the ability to perform from source to fruition a physical task without hindrance or stall, thus making it a perfect motion and an elegant action that only the trained and disciplined mind can perform.
To achieve flow in all things is incredibly difficult, yet highly rewarding for those who invest the time needed to attain it – any sportsman or gym goer trying to better themselves in a chosen area capable of flowing smoothly from bench press to squat, from plank to press up, or even from seated to standing position when they may have struggled to before has truly encapsulated the very essence of Joseph Pilates discipline.
Pilates exercises and workouts
Following is the list of best pilates exercises and workouts:
- Pilates exercises for beginners => Link
Let’s start from the beginner’s level. Alright, so this video tutorial is gonna make you learn all the basic moves of Pilates workout. It’s a 45 minutes workout with detailed instructions on each move. Try to carry out this regime for a week or so before heading out to the higher levels.
- Home Pilates workout=> Link
Bloated or large belly is a huge issue of most of us. Try this 10 minute core-blasting Pilates workout. Like the previous one, this workout also demonstrates every step clearly and in complete detail.
35 minute challenging workout video from famous Fitness Blender, this regime will make you sweat like crazy even in 10 minutes, resulting in extreme fat loss. Try it out for a better, healthier and stronger body.
- The Ultimate 30-Minute Cardio Pilates Workout! => YouTube link
Pospsugar nicely incorporates aerobics with Pilates for maximum calorie burning. Trust me, you will feel the burn like hell! And of course calm, more relaxed and energetic mind &body is the ultimate result.
With such a broad spectrum of benefits, it’s incredibly easy to see why and how Pilates exercise has become the phenomenon that it has today in the modern world – but exactly how popular is it? To be precise, figures show that no less than 12 million people are practicing pilates on a daily basis. Click To Tweet
That’s an absolutely enormous figure, and solidifies Joe’s credentials as one of the most important figures in the health and fitness movement. In fact, should you go to any commercial gym environment, private fitness studio or even local village, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to avoid seeing Pilates taking place.
This is in absolutely no small part due to its versatility – not only does it benefit the young in their pursuit of more effective physical endeavor, but tracing back to its roots, it positively impacts those in need of physical betterment in ailing positions, who would otherwise have no other form of safe exercise to undertake.
Due to it being so safe, controlled and beneficial in a plethora of ways, absolutely every body, from every walk of life is taking Pilates under their wing as a way of protecting their physical frames going forwards, but also to train their minds in ways that other forms of exercise simply cannot do.
There is a great deal to be said for having the ability to seclude ones self from the outside world and concentrate not only in the gym, but also the great walk of life – Pilates absolutely delivers on every front imaginable when it comes to seeing this idealistic form of a “complete” human body come to fruition, and this is why 12 million people will doubtless become 10 million more as our mastery of it continues, and its teaching spread further.