About Pilates Workouts
Joseph H. Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) developed Pilates when he was in nurses training in the 1920s as a way for injured World War I soldiers to recover. The Pilates workout includes about 500 resistance-training exercises that focus on the torso, but you don't need to do them all. Some can be done on a mat on the floor, while others require special equipment found in a gym or studio. You do the exercises in a specific sequence, flowing from one movement to the next. Typically, beginners start with just a few repetitions of each. Even as you progress, Pilates focuses on fewer repetitions, done properly, rather than multiple repetitions.
Who can do Pilates?
Don't let its roots in rehabilitation fool you into thinking that Pilates is just for those recovering from injuries. It became popular with dancers because it improves strength and flexibility without adding bulk.
Why should I consider Pilates?
Pilates exercises build strength in the body's core -- the abdomen, lower back and buttocks. Strengthening these areas can help improve your posture and may even help reduce low back pain. Pilates also promotes flexibility because it stretches the body as it strengthens the muscles. If you practice Pilates, you should find your range of motion increasing as you progress.
Pilates is more than just exercise. Because the movements are precise and controlled, it engages your mind as you concentrate to perform each repetition correctly. Like yoga, Pilates also includes the use of proper breathing techniques during the movements.
How do I get started?
If you are interested in Pilates classes, call your local fitness center, YMCA or community center. Ask if they offer mat work only or if they also have instruction on Pilates equipment. Find out if the instructors are certified and how much experience they have. To do Pilates on your own, you can purchase videos, DVDs or books. And, as with any fitness program, talk with your doctor before starting Pilates.