I have always said that posture and core strength are the roots of all exercises. By incorporating Pilates into your routine, you will be more aware of your body and more aware of your form in all the exercises that you do.
This will translate into better results, as well as increased stamina and less incidences of injury which is especially important as you age. But first, you must understand the six principles of Pilates and how they relate to each exercise.
Centering: This is where you will bring the awareness and focus to your body’s powerhouse, which is the center of your body, from your lower ribs to the pubic bone.
Concentration: Bringing your full attention to the movement. That means being committed to each exercise and understanding how your body moves in relation to your core.
Control: You need to maintain complete muscular control for every Pilates exercise. This means stabilizing your core, then moving from that core stabilization position. Every movement is done with intention as you move from a mind/body connection.
Precision: As you control each movement, the result is precision. You will become more aware of each movement in Pilates, understanding appropriate placement and alignment of each body part.
Breath: It is important that you breathe deeply and fully in Pilates. When breathing you should breathe deep into the lungs, allowing the belly to expand and exhale the breath deep in your core as you pull and tighten your belly.
Flow: Pilates exercises are done in a flowing manner, almost dancelike.
International Pilates Expert, Bernadette Giorgi of “Just B Method” (www.justbmethod.com), has found in her practice teaching of post-menopausal women that, hip & spine mobility & strength are concerns for women. Giorgi says that as we age, it becomes clear that exercise shouldn't hurt or feel like punishment. It should make us feel invigorated & ready for the day's activities.”
Giorgi has also trained numerous breast cancer survivors where the group experienced such significant results, she used them as the cast for her Pilates DVD’s. Giorgi says, “I think the deep connection that you make because Pilates takes much focus & concentration to execute properly. An appreciation of one's body to perform & heal even during cancer treatment unfolds. Sometimes the cancer becomes the ‘gateway’ to greater things & one of them is daily gentle yet vigorous exercise like Pilates. Pilates develops inner strength both physically as well as spiritually.”
Pilates encompasses exercises using both mat work and equipment. Giorgi says, “All Pilates equipment including the Reformer are part of Pilates. Each challenges the mind & body in a different way - all focusing on the breath & flowing controlled movement from the center. One can do the same exercises on the Reformer & Cadillac as on the mat. Mat work uses the body’s own resistance and the Reformer & Cadillac use ‘assisted resistance’ while maintaining alignment & challenging balance & muscle strength.”
All of this may sound a bit hard to embrace but experts describe Pilates as: “a method of training the body and mind to work together to create an efficient, integrated, movement experience -- both on the workout mat and as you move through daily life.”
Look for more articles written by me on the topics of Yoga and Pilates on EmpowHer.com.
Joanne Sgro is Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training. Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her fiancé, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.