Pilates is a set of exercises performed in a very controlled manner in order to gain maximum strength from your powerhouse.
You can be the best built person in the world, but if your
powerhouse is not strong, you can struggle physically with daily activities and risk not being properly aligned.
Your powerhouse is your core, which consists of the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips. When your powerhouse is weak, simple activities such as standing in the line at the grocery store will seem tiresome and even keeping a good posture while sitting in front of the computer will feel very painful.
Pilates is a set of exercises performed in a very controlled manner in order to gain maximum strength from your powerhouse. It is a wonderful routine to follow when seeking toning of the mid-section, buttocks and back. Once you have the simple exercises down many variations can be added, making pilates an exciting and challenging form of exercise.
Many people think pilates is the same as yoga, but yoga has its own set of principles. Pilates is directed more towards complete control of stabilizing the muscles and engaging of the core. There is also no aspect of meditation involved in Pilates; it’s purely exercising without trying to cry from the great pilates burn you feel. Pilates is incredible when used as your regular exercise routine, but it is even used by elite athletes (such as runners, triathletes and rowers) in order to fully round off their training. Pilates is used by these athletes as a tool for injury prevention and overall proper alignment.
So you may be wondering: what is this whole alignment thing about? To put it simply, a French fry will always flop towards the side that is weakest. Unfortunately, the same applies to our human body. Our bodies take the path of least resistance; therefore, wherever we have a weakness, our body will compensate and send all the work to the stronger side because it’s too much effort to control the weak and floppy side. This highlights the importance of being properly aligned – standing with equal weight on both feet and not allowing our spine the opportunity to bend into curves it’s not made to be in. With Pilates, each exercise addresses proper alignment and weak spots are put in the spotlight. We then strengthen that weakness and the body is able to function at optimum performance.
Pilates also encourages flexibility. This is important because often our lack of flexibility inhibits us from doing daily activities. Look, not everyone needs to wrap themselves up like a koeksister. That is not functional, even though it may be a cool party trick. However, flexibility can make your life easier.
Pilates can be done using all types of advanced equipment, but I prefer Pilates the original way: on a mat, in the comfort of your own home. By adding some equipment pieces you can up the challenge, but you don’t need to have the large equipment to fully experience Pilates. That’s the beauty of it. There is also a myth that Pilates is mainly for women, which has probably become the stigma because it might bruise some men’s egos when trying particular Pilates exercises! Jokes aside, Pilates is really for everyone. There is nothing more attractive than a man walking around with good posture and an engaged core!
And lastly, once you master the basics, being able to advance to the next level is really exciting. Seeing what your body is capable of and the progress happening in leaps and bounds is truly rewarding.
Pilates is relaxing but drastically tiring at the same time. You will walk away from a Pilates session feeling refreshed and ready to take on anything that may come your way that day. If you haven’t felt the Pilates burn yet, you pretty much have never really exercised before.
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young”- Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates method.
by Nicola Coetzee