There’s a good chance you’ve all heard of Pilates, and some of you reading this, particularly of the female persuasion (if our stats are anything to go by), have probably given it a go. Some of the males reading this may have given it a go (or been advised to by partners!), but anecdotally from the clientele I see in my clinic, this is less likely to be the case. So I thought I would outline what Pilates is, and whether it’s worth trying.
The Pilates style of exercises (developed by a man, Joseph Pilates) is a series of exercises, designed to strengthen the deep layers of muscle in our body, which are known as our postural or “core” muscles. You may have heard about “strengthening your core” over the past few years, it’s been a major buzz-phrase for the past while. Without this group of core muscles, we would basically keel over, as they are the muscles that help to hold us in an upright position!
Normally, these muscles tick away quite happily doing their job, without a lot of thought from us. However, a number of factors, including previous injury, poor posture, pain and swelling, can affect the ability of these muscles to work properly. Once this group of muscles stop working properly, unfortunately they don’t tend to start working well again by themselves. So this is where Pilates comes in. Pilates exercises are designed to specifically target these particular muscle groups, which include the deep abdominals, deep lower back, deep neck, shoulder blade, gluteal and pelvic floor muscles. The exercises can be done in a number of ways, including in classes, on Pilates equipment, one on one sessions, or even at home by yourself (if you have been trained, and have good self-motivation!) They can be quite subtle, initially (which is maybe where the males sometimes fall down, as in general, we don’t have the same degree of body awareness as females), so personally I’m not a big fan of the DIY DVD approach. An increasing amount of gyms, Physio clinics and Pilates studios will offer different options to work around your personal situation.
So in summary, if you have perfect posture, no history of injury and a pain free body….great work and lucky you! For the rest of us, have a think about whether Pilates might be worth a try for your long term health and wellness. Have a read below of some of the main benefits of doing Pilates regularly.
14 key benefits of Pilates
1. Improves your core strength and posture
2. Reduces back pain
3. Prevents injuries
4. Improves energy
5. Reduces stress levels
6. Increases mobility and flexibility
7. Improves balance
8. Gives your immunity a boost
9. Improves your all important cognitive functioning
10. Can increase your motivation
11. Enhances your performance on the golf course
12. Strengthens your bones
13. Can boost your mood
14. Improves your sleep
By the way gents, it’s the only exercises that will target the bit of overhang around the belt line you may figure is stuck there for good….so what are you waiting for?