Pilates is an exercise program named after it's creator, Joseph Pilates. He dseigned a series of exercises that can be done with or without equipment that focus on building core strength and improving posture.
Some of the benefits of Pilates include:
longer, leaner muscles (less bulk, more freedom of movement)
improves postural problems
increases core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
helps prevent injury
enhances functional fitness, ease of movement
balances strength & flexibility
heightens body awareness
no-impact, easy on the joints
can be customized to suit everyone from rehab patients to elite athletes
complements other methods of exercise
improves performance in sports (golf, skiing, skating etc.)
improves balance, coordination & circulation
Pilates exercise improves core strength and balances the muscles around the joints, improving the way your body functions, looks and feels. The Five Basic Principles focus on:
Rib cage placement
Head & cervical spine placement
In some respects Pilates is like Yoga. Both are considered mind-body type methods of movement; both emphasize deep breathing and smooth, long movements that encourage the mind-body connection. The difference is that while Yoga requires moving from one static posture to the next, Pilates flows through a series of movements that are more dynamic, systematic and anatomically-based incorporating resistance equipment. The goal with Pilates exercise is to strengthen the postural muscles while achieving optimal functional fitness.
You can expect an increase in strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, and body awareness, as well as a decrease in back pain or other general pains.
The average active person doing 2-3 classes per week should see some results within 10-12 classes. This will vary depending on each individual and other factors such as the number of classes a person takes each week, whether they are private or group classes, whether they participate in other physical activities, and whether they have any existing injuries. It is also important to work with a well trained Certified Instructor.
Although you should always consult your physician before starting any fitness routine, a Pilates workout is gentle and controlled with no sudden jarring actions. It is therefore more important that you work with a qualified instructor to ensure that you are doing the movements correctly. An experienced instructor will be able to modify the exercises to accommodate your limitations, continually challenge you within your range and monitor your improvements. If you commit yourself to a consistent workout schedule you will certainly feel results.
Now how do you get started? If you are unable to find a class with a certified instructor in your area I recommend getting a Stott Pilates Mat Exercise video. The instruction is impeccable! You can locate the videos at www.stottpilates.com, or your local bookstore