Pilates hit the big time in the mid-2000s when every gym seemed to be offering these classes, and flocks of people ran to participate. The activity was actually invented in the 1920s for rehabilitation, treating people such as soldiers returning from war and dancers to strengthen their bodies while healing from sprains and pains.
What are the perks of Pilates?
Pilates aims to strengthen muscles and improve postural alignment, flexibility, and balance. It improves overall health and well-being, and thanks to its low-impact movements it is especially popular with the older generation.
However, anyone can enjoy the benefits of Pilates. NFL players Antonio Brown and Martellus Bennett are big fans, due to its ability to develop flexibility, trunk stability, athletic performance, and prevent injuries.
Similar to yoga, Pilates is great for “centering” yourself. The focus on breathing and being mindful of your body’s movements can help you focus on the present, meaning the activity is also great for improving mental health by inducing relaxation, improving mood, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Looks can be deceiving
Marie-Louise Bird is a Pilates researcher at the University of British Columbia, whose work looks into the benefits of the activity and evaluates its effectiveness. Her research explains how the small movements that Pilates consists of can look deceptively easy but are actually working wonders.
These tiny motions all contribute to improving balance and core strength, by reinforcing the body between mind and muscles and helping engage the correct core muscles. Over time, this leads to better posture and control over body movements. This is another reason why elderly and injured people turn to Pilates, as it helps reduce the risk of injury, ease pain, and improve their quality of everyday life.
Tips and tricks
To get the full benefits of Pilates, it’s advised to start with a certified teacher that can guide you through the correct movement and form to get the most out of the class. Pilates is not necessarily the most rigorous form of exercise. However, if that’s what you’re looking for, new adapted versions of the activity are out there for you such as reformer Pilates and jump board Pilates.