Pilates is a form of low impact aerobics that combines body weight resistance exercises with isometric and isotonic contractions. It was founded in the early 20th century by German Olympic gold medallist Johann Benga, and the method has been popularized by the former ballet dancer and teacher-turned-fitness guru, Pilates. Research shows that doing regular Pilates workouts can help to improve your overall balance and coordination while also boosting your strength, which in turn helps to shed off some extra pounds.
How Does It Work?
The premise behind Pilates is to achieve a smooth and graceful movement wherever you put your mind to it. To that end, the methodologies of Pilates incorporate a series of controlled movements and breaths—all meant to target specific muscle groups and enhance overall wellness. When you practise Pilates, a qualified instructor will typically guide you through a series of exercises that target different muscle groups, such as the legs, torso, and back. Some classic Pilates exercises include:
The Reformer is a device that was specifically designed to enhance your Pilates workout by making it more challenging. It’s a Pilates reformer that was introduced in the 1950s and has been commonly used ever since. The reformer’s most distinguishing feature is that, instead of using normal weights like you would with other Pilates machines, the Reformer employs a system of interconnected weights that progressively increase in weight as you advance through the machine. For example, the first set of weights might only be a couple of pounds, while the last set could be as heavy as 60 pounds.
One of the most famous exercises in Pilates is the cable, and there are a variety of them that you can do. Simply take a cable in your hands and stand in front of a wall with your feet shoulder width apart. You will typically use your body weight to pull the cable towards you while contracting your arms, thus building up some serious muscle. When you’re ready, lower the cable towards the floor and feel the burn as you contract those muscles.
The Wider Stance
Another great way to strengthen your core is to take a wider stance when you do the cable. Picture yourself in front of a wall holding the cable with your feet shoulder width apart. As you step forward with your arms, the cable should move with you, thus engaging your core muscles throughout the movement. This is a great exercise for those who want to gain strength and stability in their pelvic region, as it targets the muscles of the pelvic floor (anterior and posterior) as well as the transverse abdominis.
The rope is another classic Pilates exercise, and it’s one of the most practical pieces of kit in your home gym. You will simply hold onto the rope with one hand while doing a series of leg raises with the other. Again, this is another effective way of targeting the core muscles, and it’s ideal for those who want to develop their abdominal muscles.
The Bird Walk
To really challenge yourself in Pilates, you can try the bird walk. This entails raising one leg in the air and standing with your other leg in front of your body. As you walk, you should keep your balance while using your arms to pull yourself up. This is a great way of working your upper body as well as challenging your core. Just make sure that you keep your back straight and walk slowly—it’s not always easy to keep your balance while being mindful of your breathing!
Incorporating Pilates Into Your Weight Loss Routine
For those who want to incorporate Pilates into their weight loss routine, there are a number of different ways that they can do so. They can start by taking the more traditional approach of using a Pilates mat or a reformer class to do a full workout. If that’s not possible, they can get a workout mat, put it on a plate, and do some crunches or mountain climbers on it. They can use any of the equipment that they have at home, or if they don’t have any of the equipment, they can use their bodies as weights and focus on their breathing to get the most out of their workouts.
Incorporating Pilates in to your weekly routine is great for weight loss because it works your whole body while also challenging your core. It’s been proven to increase both your heart rate and your metabolism, thus making it a fantastic choice for those who want to lose weight quickly. If you need help making it easier, there are a number of free apps that you can download for your smartphone that will track your workouts and provide you with an online certificate when you complete a certain number of exercises. Incorporating Pilates into your routine couldn’t be simpler—just make sure that you do it regularly and effectively!