Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy.
Looking for a way to get long lean muscles without putting strain on your joints, ligaments, and tendons? You may have heard of a little thing called Pilates, which has gained popularity in the past few years. Go ahead and believe the hype; Pilates is definitely all it’s cracked up to be.
Pilates classes incorporate subtle controlled movements, often with special props, that strengthen the core and creates awareness of the posture. The better you get at Pilates, the stronger and leaner you get. The benefits of Pilates are many, but here are a few of the most important benefits of taking a Pilates class.
Especially as we age, our core becomes a very important part of our anatomy. All the support of our torso and trunk happens here, and injuries are almost a guarantee if you don’t have a strong core. Pilates trains every aspect of your body, but does a particularly good job strengthening all your core muscles. A side effect of a strong core is nice flat abs, but an often overlooked benefit is the balance that a well trained core can provide. Better balance leads to a more active lifestyle, and less chance of injury as we grow older.
Pilates is hard work. The slow deliberate movements of Pilates may not look like much, but they activate the smaller muscle fibers that are designed for endurance. As you build on your endurance you can take on the more difficult moves, always adjusting the difficulty level to your current threshold. The potential to constantly be challenging your body in new ways is a great way to avoid a weight loss plateau, and help you achieve consistent results over time.
Less Back Pain
As we do so much sitting at our jobs and in our commute, the muscles of our shoulders and core slowly weaken. At the same time, opposing muscles, such as the chest muscles, lats, and hip flexors tighten and become shorter. All of this muscle imbalance leads to pain in the back and neck when we move around. Pilates can help by strengthening the weak muscles and lengthening the overly tight ones to better balance the body and reduce pain naturally.
We are only born with a certain amount of cushion in between our joints, and if we don’t protect that cushion, we can end up with aches and pains when we move. Pilates is a great exercise regimen for anyone who feels they need a lower impact activity, but still want to burn calories and achieve their best body. Hips, knees, and ankles get incredible stability training, without any stress or excess pressure to the joint.
Pilates works not only to build strength in the body. Pilates also sharpens the mind. Controlling the slow deliberate movements in a Pilates class requires intense focus and determination. Over time this practice helps to create better mind body connection, and an ability to hone in on a movement and execute with complete control.
Pilates comes in a variety of different difficulty levels, from gentle Pilates for those just ready to dip a toe in, to Pilates for strength if you’re ready to push your limits. There’s a perfect fit for everyone, so try a Pilates class at one of our Sacramento area health clubs to enjoy better health today, and for the rest of your life.