Amazing Benefits of Pilates
If you haven't tried Pilates yet during quarantine, I highly encourage you to keep reading to understand what you're missing out on & then go give it a try!
I've always thought that Pilates was incredibly underrated.
I've been doing my own form of Pilates for close to 10 years now and LOVE it.
I started by teaching myself via all the YouTube videos I could find that interested me, then some DVD programs, and now I make my own routines based around what I've learned throughout my years practicing.
Pilates has so many amazing benefits, but before I get into why I love it so much, I want to point out that it's truly not something to scoff at.
Pilates is a lot more challenging than it looks, and I guarantee that if you've never tried it and you're a regular strength training gym-goer, you'd be humbled after trying it.
So don't be ignorant & don't knock it til' ya try it!
With that said...moving onto my favorite benefits of Pilates:
#1. Increases core strength
Pilates integrates tons of different stretches and exercises that all work to strengthen every part of your core including your abs, lower back, booty, and hips. Regularly practicing Pilates will help you increase core strength and endurance, without the need for high impact movements or using heavy weights.
#2. Teaches you to understand proper breath work
Anyone that's ever trained with me knows that I'm a HUGE stickler when it comes to proper breathing while working out. I'm probably the most annoying person ever about it but that's because it's SO IMPORTANT and, in my opinion, is not stressed enough in most fitness/gym settings. I 1000% credit my obsessiveness around breath work to my Pilates practice.
Improper breathing can cause you to feel dizzy/light headed, fatigue quicker, and even increase your blood pressure. No one wants any of that.
You always want to exhale when contracting your core—or in terms of lifting weights, breath out when you begin to lift the weight. So, for a quick example, during a chest press, you would exhale as you push the weights or bar away from your chest, then inhale as you return the weight back to your chest.
Another quick tip to reflect on when you catch yourself holding your breath during your workout is to think: 'exhale when I'm doing the hardest part of the work'.
You will notice a big difference in your core engagement, especially your abdominals, when you're breathing properly.
#3. Improves flexibility
A lot of people will say that they can't do Pilates because they aren't flexible enough.
Well, that's the point.
Practicing Pilates will help you become more flexible because it's centered around strengthening AND stretching.
If your normal routine is mostly strength training, your muscles tighten up, especially if you’re not stretching properly before & after. Incorporating Pilates can help you elongate those tight muscles and promote a muscle-loosening benefit.
#4. Amazing for toning & targeting
I've done some WICKED Pilates series that look so simple, yet make you want to cry because they hurt so good.
Hot tip: I'm a huge fan of ankle weights, *and if you haven't yet, check out my blog post here, where I go in depth about all the benefits adding ankle weights to your fitness routine can bring you*. When you throw on a pair of ankle weights to your Pilates workout, you can further enhance the toning benefits Pilates offers.
Pilates not only strengthens your core all around, but many of the exercises also target smaller muscles that we don't typically work on a daily basis. So when you practice Pilates and hitting those muscles, you're working to tone and sculpt them, which will help with muscle definition in the areas that most people would refer to as their 'problem areas'.
#5. Improves posture
Because of how Pilates helps to strengthen your core and improve flexibility, improved posture comes as a by-product. When you have greater abdominal strength, your core is better at supporting your upper body, which promotes better posture.
...And having good posture can help reduce your risk of back/shoulder/neck problems.
#6. Great for all fitness levels
Whether it’s your very first time working out, or if you’re a seasoned vet, there’s tons of different Pilates workouts that can accommodate all fitness levels.
You can choose from beginner’s classes, intermediate, expert/advanced classes, etc.
#7. The many different exercise methods you can choose from
There's not one set method for Pilates. You can take a reformer class at a gym, if you like group fitness you can try a mat class, you can do it right at home by getting a DVD program or watching youtube videos, etc. Pilates is a great exercise option, especially during quarantine and having no other option than to workout at home. If you’ve been on the hunt for a new hobby, give it a try. ;)
There's so many more benefits of Pilates...these are just the ones that I love most, so I hope they encourage you to give Pilates a try for the first time, or rekindle the flame you once had with it.
& just like with all other forms of exercise, Pilates can help promote weight loss, but that still comes down to burning more calories than you consume.
While Pilates is great for toning, it’s not a huge calorie-burning exercise method.
So if weight loss and toning is your goal, I’d recommend combining a Pilates practice with some cardio & aerobic exercising. It doesn’t have to be high impact like HIIT or running, it can be rowing, swimming, power walking, etc. Combining those two exercise methods, while also eating a healthy diet *and keeping your hormones & mental health in check* will totally work in your favor in terms of increased weight loss and muscle toning.