Why is there so much emphasis on the core?
All movement starts with the core.
At the center of the body is the core. Linking the upper and lower body, the core comprises the muscles of the abdomen, the pelvis, the mid and lower back and the hips. These muscles work together to support the spine and the head as well as the body’s frame. This creates balance and stability throughout the body.
Most of the body’s movement originates from the core.
The core is used to execute most activities such as bending, standing, sitting, lifting, twisting, carrying, reaching and stretching.
A strong and flexible core benefits the body every day when performing even the most mundane task like tying your shoe laces, emptying the dishwasher or sitting behind a desk. Core strength enhances athletic performance, promotes general health and physical fitness, while reducing the risk of injury through strain.
A strong and flexible core aids muscle control, improves reactions if caught off balance and reduces the risk of overtaxing other muscles. This reduces the risk of strain or injury and promotes safer, more efficient movement.
How does Pilates integrate the mind, body and spirit?
Pilates is a well rounded mind body workout for a healthy body and mind.
The Pilates system teaches the mind to work with the body, with heightened awareness of the body’s muscular and skeletal structure. It teaches the mind to recognize imbalances and know how to correct them to become aligned, flexible and strong.
The exercise program requires mindful precision and deep concentration to carefully and accurately guide movement, together with controlled, conscious breathing technique. This mental and physical focus teaches us to know and understand our body, raising our consciousness and affinity with our physical selves. This is often referred to as the ‘Pilates mind body connection’.
When a student is making the body mind connection we call this in our studio: He/she is in the zone
Such mindful movement acts as a form of meditation. As well as invigorating the body, this ‘moving meditation’ concentrates the mind, inducing a state of clarity and a sense of inner peace.
The high degree of concentration required to perform Pilates, with its precise movement and controlled breathing, has been shown to increase brain function (as compared to repetitive exercise methods). The benefits include stimulating intelligence, memory, imagination, intuition, will and desire.
What is the difference between Pilates and other fitness methods (i.e. weight training)?
Pilates is a holistic full body workout for a strong healthy body and a clear focussed mind.
The differences between weight training (or gym workouts) and Pilates workouts stem from the different goals of these methods.
Weight training builds strength and bulk in specific muscles like biceps, rectus abdominis and quads.
Pilates builds strength and flexibility, not bulk, throughout the entire musculature of the body. Pilates not only works on the global superficial muscles like the quads, but also the deeper stabilizing muscles like the transverse abdominis and multifidus.
Pilates increases the body’s strength, joint flexibility and range of motion. This makes physical movement more efficient, the posture more upright and improves the whole body’s condition and health. After a Pilates workout students report they feel physically invigorated and mentally at peace, not tired and sore.
Traditional weight training focuses on high repetitions and sets and ‘going for the burn’ in order to fatigue the specific muscles being worked.
Pilates workouts never use more than 5 to 10 repetitions per exercise. Pilates places greater importance on the quality of movement than merely the quantity. Pilates movements are complex and precise, recruiting more muscle groups simultaneously than a weight training exercise.
Weight training can also be tedious as the mind has nothing much to do.
Pilates workouts are holistic, engaging the whole body, the breath and the mind. The accuracy of the movements in harmony with breath control demands a high degree of concentration, profoundly engaging the brain in the workout. Pilates raises awareness of the body, for a strong ‘mind body connection’ and helps relieve tension and stress.
What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
Pilates teaches ‘functional fitness’ for daily life.
Both Yoga and Pilates are exercise methods which focus on the mind as well as the body and they both use advanced breathing techniques. They both promote physical strength and flexibility throughout the whole body. And they both teach mental focus, discipline and concentration.
Yoga’s goal is to prepare the body for long periods of static poses which promote the progressive quieting of the mind and facilitate meditation, detachment and discovery of our (true) self.
Pilates’ goal is to develop core strength and stability, spinal health with mobility, improved joint flexibility and range of motion to promote ‘functional fitness’ for daily life activities.
Pilates teaches the student to heighten their awareness of their body and to move more precisely recruiting a high number of muscle groups within each exercise.
Functional fitness is achieved through exercises mimicking ‘real life movement’ to enable the student to conduct everyday tasks more effectively, comfortably and safely – at home, in the office and in sport.
By reducing the strain on the body and relieving stress, Pilates enhances the quality of life.
What is the difference between a Pilates class in studio and a fitness club or gym?
The difference is in the quality of the class experience, the studio facilities and above all the professionalism of the instruction.
Pilates exercises are precise and technically challenging requiring each student to receive close attention from the teacher. To allow this, Studio Pilates classes are never more than 6 to 12 students, while gym classes can be as large as 30 to 40 students.
Studio Pilates carefully compose the classes to ensure the students attending have comparable levels of experience and competency. This allows the teacher to effectively grow the students capability. A consistent student attendance and small class size promotes a camaraderie amongst students who enjoy growing together, inspiring and motivating each other.
Students of gym classes are free to choose for themselves which class they attend. This results in larger classes of mixed competency levels without regular or stable attendances.
Teacher certification is key
In order to teach Studio Pilates classes our trainers are capable of bringing expert instruction and guidance to students with all types of needs and conditions. This demands they be fully qualified and certified. Full Pilates certification requires more than 200 hours of practice teaching and observation with written and practical exam lasting 5 hours.
Contrast this with gym school trainers who may have as little as a single weekend training of a couple of hours or in some cases no training at all.
A fundamental part of Pilates training is the use of special spring resistance equipment designed by Joseph Pilates such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair, as well as props. Our Pilates studio is fully equipped and provides a full exercise regime. Gym classes are often not equipped and will primarily rely on mat classes alone.