If you’ve heard of pilates you may have wondered several things. One: what is it? And two: what’s the point of it, exactly? Is it like a workout or more like yoga and what benefits does it bring? This guide is here to give you all the info you need on what pilates is and how it will benefit you.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-stress, full-body workout that focuses on your core. It involves working on your breathing and stretching carefully as you do various exercises with extra equipment or just with a mat.
A pilates exercise session tends to be on the longer side, lasting an hour and 45 minutes, but it’s possible to do shorter if you don’t have time.
Pilates is generally on a thick mat or reformer pilates which uses an adjustable bench that you use to pull yourself up and down.¹
The Many Physical Benefits of Pilates
Pilates has many physical benefits, from increased core strength to much better flexibility, deeper breathing, muscle control and improved coordination. It can also help a lot if you are recovering from an injury to your spinal cord, back, next or chest and the deep breathing and stretching works to slowly bring you back to an optimal state.
Generally you will notice that it takes one or two dozen sessions of pilates to start seeing the tangible benefits and positive physical changes that start taking place.²
As mentioned, one of the biggest physical benefits of pilates is increased flexibility. You won’t necessarily be on the Olympic gymnastics team after doing pilates, but you will notice differences – subtle at first and later more evident – where everyday tasks and ways that you move, sit and do things become easier and less strenuous.
The stretches, muscular motions and resistance portions of pilates all combine to make you low-key powerful and nimble in ways that will pleasantly surprise you. Lifting that box down from the top shelf will become easy and maintaining your balance as you bend over to look at something will be a breeze.³
A Healthier Back
Many people experience back pain these days, especially with those who work long hours sitting at their computer. Pilates will help with that, improving your hip strength and lower back health as well as overall core strength and stability. You can say goodbye to that gnawing pain that greets you at the end of every day, because pilates will help overcome it.⁴
Better Overall Fitness
In addition to the various physical pluses of pilates, it will help you become better at working out overall. It really focuses your attention on your core and muscle and breath control, which are absolutely key skills when you’re working out.
As you improve at this you will find that pilates makes your entire fitness experience more positive and productive, from jogging to lifting weights and using machines.⁴
Improved Mental Health
The benefits of pilates aren’t just physical, either – far from it. Deep breathing has been found by researchers to lower blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol. It’s what people commonly call being “centered.” It’s a scientific fact, not just emotions. Your body is balancing and calming your mind as you go through the process of pilates.
As you go through your pilates session, endorphins are released and you are part of a relaxing yet challenging time where you experience both physical and mental release, working through blockages, pain and negative emotions as you go through the exercises on the mat. The end result is a healthier, happier you.⁵