Do I need to be fit to take Pilates?
Pilates benefits people at any level of fitness.
No two bodies are the same. No two people enjoy the same level of fitness.
The Pilates approach is to look at each body to understand its unique condition, structure and needs. With this knowledge the teacher will design a program of movement allowing each student to enjoy and benefit from the practice.
With a unique roadmap, the program grows as the student grows and learns more about their own body.
Are there age limits to taking Pilates?
Pilates benefits most age groups.
People of all ages from the very young to the very old can practice and benefit from Pilates.
For the older student Pilates helps maintain flexibility, keeping joints supple, maintaining range of motion, mobility and keeping the body upright. This keeps the body feeling fit and in balance into old age.
For the younger student Pilates helps teach concentration, self discipline and body awareness, promoting self confidence and mental development. Consistent practice gives the student a healthy and toned appearance.
Each Pilates program is uniquely tailored to meet the student’s needs and goals, taking into account the students body structure and condition. In this way the program is designed around the individuals physical possibilities, including their age, defining what they can safely accomplish in an incremental program of movement.
As body age and chronological age are not the same, some elderly people can achieve very challenging movements which students many years their junior have not yet mastered.
Does Pilates benefit men’s health?
Pilates has specific benefits for the male body.
The male body has a tendency to a lack of flexibility and restriction of movement in the shoulders, hamstrings, hips and neck. By helping create longer muscles, greater range of motion and agility while strengthening the core and lower body, Pilates prevents the ‘bulking up’ of other fitness methods like weight training.
Increasingly sports associations are using the potential of Pilates to enhance physical performance through improved coordination, alignment and breathing as well as strength. This is evident in the many top sportsmen using Pilates in their training regimes.
Can Pilates help relieve back, neck and shoulder pain?
Pilates helps relieve and can fully correct the causes of back, neck and shoulder pain.
Pain in the upper and lower back, the neck and the shoulders can result from imbalances in the body. Reduction in strength, poor alignment and posture, muscular tension or strain, repetitive trauma and stress all contribute to reduction in the bodies condition, increasing the risk of injury and the causes of (chronic) pain. Weak core muscles and a lack of adequate spinal support will exacerbate these conditions and pain.
With the focus on creating core strength in the deep abdominal muscles supporting the spine, Pilates provides relief or fully corrects these health issues.
Pilates stretches the spine creating more space between the vertebrae improving and stabilizing posture. This promotes the correct alignment of the back, neck and shoulders as well as the knees and hips.
This improvement to posture together with greater muscle strength improves joint flexibility, range of motion, increases accuracy and control of movement and reduces stress to the joints.
This combines to reduce the risk of injury and the causes of pain.
Can Pilates help relieve joint pain such as arthritis and osteoarthritis?
Pilates helps relieve chronic joint pain.
Over time the wear and tear on our body can cause misalignment while our joints can lose their elasticity and flexibility. This reduces the joints range of motion and increases the risk of injury and chronic pain.
Naturally people with chronic pain will be concerned that any physical exercise might exacerbate their condition. Pilates is a low impact, low intensity program with precise, controlled and gentle movements that build muscle strength, improve balance and increase both flexibility and range of motion.
The Pilates method stabilizes and strengthens the body while preventing stress to the ligaments and cartilage surrounding joints.
By focussing on body alignment and joint mobility, Pilates raises the students awareness of their movement, reduces muscle stiffness and increases their flexibility helping to alleviate the causes of pain while taking care of the body.
Can Pilates help recovery from or prevent injury?
Pilates program is designed to address issues relating to injury.
Most of us move incorrectly in some way. This can stem from the way we walk, sit, bend, lie down or stand. Or a combination.
These incorrect movements put pressure on muscles and strain on the spine and pelvis. This leads to physical misalignment, imbalances and weaknesses making these areas ever more vulnerable. The natural tendency for the body is to protect the overtaxed parts and compensate by using the stronger parts to take up the work. This can set off a chain of events leading to further strain spreading through the body.
Pilates programs are designed specifically to address these issues.
By building ‘core strength’ in the deep abominable muscles which support the spine, Pilates exercises create a stronger, more stable and more flexible spine.
By strengthening the muscles closest to the spine, Pilates corrects spinal and pelvic alignment. This is crucial in promoting correct movement patterns, aiding recovery from injury and avoiding new injury in the future.
Pilates exercise regimes are designed to serve the individual needs of each student, taking into account their physical and mental condition, and any restrictions or pain resulting from their injury.
With an infinite repertoire of movements, Pilates programs offer the flexibility and focus needed for effective and lasting injury rehabilitation and prevention.
Pilates programs continually develop and grow in sophistication as the student progresses in ability, from basic to advanced, to expert and beyond.
Pilates teaches the student how to efficiently recruit a muscle or group of muscles to perform a certain task. This ‘functional fitness’ training can make everyday activities easier and safer, reducing risk of injury and improving the quality of life.
In these ways Pilates differs from conventional physiotherapy which tends to use standardized exercises and fixed regimes. This leaves little scope for tailoring to individual needs or developing a program with progression to match patient improvement.
The Pilates program encourages the student to take active ownership of their recovery process and health regime. This too differs from conventional physiotherapy which tends to render the patient passive, while the therapist does their work.
I am pregnant, is it safe to take Pilates?
Pilates is safe and beneficial to health during the entire pre and post natal period.
Focussing on core strength and breathing make Pilates an excellent part of a pre and post natal exercise program.
Pilates strengthens the core muscles deep in the lower abdomen. This helps women become stronger in those muscles which are needed during pregnancy to carry the weight of their baby, while stabilizing the pelvis and relieving back strain.
Pilates strengthens the pelvic floor to help support the bowel, bladder and womb as your baby grows. This helps make pregnancy more comfortable and aids with urine control.
By heightening awareness of breathing, Pilates aids relaxation during pregnancy and is a good preparation for labor.
Pilates movements are precise and gentle, avoiding sudden jarring which would be uncomfortable during pregnancy. Pilates creates better overall balance, body control and agility for pregnant women, avoiding clumsiness as your baby and your body grows.
I am overweight, can I take Pilates?
Pilates benefits all body types.
Pilates benefits people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. And Pilates has specific benefits for the larger body.
With its focus on developing core strength Pilates builds and strengthens those muscles that support the spine and organs, helping relieve the stress on joints and muscles. Pilates improves posture and alignment helping the student move and walk with more balance and grace.
Pilates teaches breathing techniques to increase lung capacity, improve stamina and promote a general sense of fitness and well-being making the body feel better. And with improved muscle tone the body will look better too.
Through the focus on core training and breathing technique the pressure from the extra body weight on ankles, knees, pelvis and spine is alleviated.
Each Pilates program is designed to suit the specific needs of each individual student and their body, making it easier to get started with a new fitness regime. Many exercises are done sitting, lying or kneeling which is also kinder to the larger body.
As Pilates teaches body awareness and making the right connections, daily activities become safer and easier over time.
Will Pilates help me lose weight?
Pilates builds strength but does not focus on burning calories.
Pilates promotes weight loss and a long lean appearance, building lean muscle mass to shape, firm and tone the entire body. This helps to improve metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories over the course of the day even when the body is at rest.
You will see an increase in muscular definition and tone in the abdominal area which is often a trouble area where we tend to store fat, especially as we get older. Through strengthening these postural muscles, you will improve body composition and store less fat in your midsection.
Pilates includes exercises like ‘roll ups’, the ‘ab series’, ‘leg circles’ and ‘teasers’ which work all the muscles from hips through to shoulders.
Pilates builds physical strength, improves metabolism and enhances mental awareness, all of which are highly beneficial to the student’s endurance and discipline in a weight loss program.
Does Pilates reshape the body?
Pilates sculpts and reshapes the body.
Pilates is a whole body exercise program that sculpts, lengthens, strengthens and tones the body with longer, leaner muscles without the bulk of traditional exercise programs.
The Pilates focus on developing core strength make it an ideal regime to sculpt and reshape the body. Pilates transforms body appearance with toned thighs, flatter stomach, more muscular abdominals, tighter biceps and triceps and improving muscle tone making the body look and feel better.
Pilates promotes good posture with symmetry and balance giving you a more upright stance, more slender and more powerful appearance.
Is Pilates a cardiovascular workout?
Pilates is a full body workout, not a cardiovascular workout.
Pilates is not a cardiovascular workout, however it is a demanding workout and will increase heart rate and have the student ‘breaking a sweat’.
Pilates is designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body with an emphasis on breathing while cardio is any exercise which accelerates the heart rate.
Pilates is for people who want to build core strength and stability, increase flexibility and mobility, improve posture and balance. Pilates is for people looking for a ‘full body’ fitness program, working all the muscles in the body to create a longer, leaner, more toned physique. It is practiced by those wanting to feel fitter and improve their overall health as well as those seeking relief from pain and rehabilitation from injury.
Cardio is for people who want to improve heart health, build specific muscles (depending on activity), increase aerobic efficiency and build endurance. It is practiced by those wishing to burn calories and body fat (weight management), lower risk of heart disease and reduce stress.
Pilates is more gentle to the body than cardio with no jumping, jarring and wearing down of ligaments, tissues and cartilage.
Depending on one’s fitness goals, combining Pilates and cardio makes an excellent, complimentary program of exercise.