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6 Good Reasons to Try Pilates

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I never thought Pilates was for me. I saw the Pilates videos, infomercials and classes at the gym, often full of older women in leotards, lying on their backs, moving their legs around in the air. It sure didn't look hard. Where was the challenge, resistance, or weights? And it didn't look very fun either, just lying on the floor for so long. I decided that it wasn't for me and that was that…or so I thought.

After I had been teaching fitness classes for a few years, I started to get bored with my usual strength and cardio classes. I needed something new to keep my interest and enthusiasm. What started as a weekend Pilates workshop for inexpensive continuing education credits (necessary for every certified trainer or instructor) turned into a new passion for me. While I took the training course just for credits, I found out that I really liked this Pilates business, and the more I trained, the more benefits I experienced.

I believe that every person can benefit from Pilates—men, women, athletes, couch potatoes. People of all body shapes and weights. People of all levels of fitness and coordination. It truly does offer something for everyone.

In a new dailySpark series, I'll give you plenty of good reasons to try a variety of fitness endeavors that you may have never considered before. First up: 6 good reasons to try mat Pilates.

Look 10 Pounds Thinner: Pilates helps you improve your posture, and the simple act of standing with good posture can make people appear 5-10 pounds thinner (and more confident, too). One of my mentors always says, "Pilates is a lifestyle." By that he means that you don't leave the class behind when you walk out the door. You try to incorporate all of the elements into your daily life—engaging your abs, standing tall, relaxing your shoulders, moving with grace. Pilates exercises help you do all those things, and standing taller and more confidently is a bonus, too.

Have a Ball…and a Roll, a Ring and a Band: Many mat Pilates classes incorporate fun props into their classes, including the mini ball, foam roller, magic circle (ring) and resistance bands. If you've ever wondered how to exercise with these small pieces of equipment, you'll learn in Pilates. Plus, these tiny props offer a BIG challenge for your muscles—and make the classes even more fun! They're inexpensive and versatile and you can use them at home, too.

Stretch and Strengthen Simultaneously: Most of us skimp on the stretching, even though we know it's very beneficial to our muscles, joints and mobility. Pilates stretches are dynamic, not static, which means you move as you stretch; stretches are sprinkled throughout the class (not just at the end, which makes them easy to skip). As another benefit, many of these stretches also strengthen your muscles at the same time. For example, single straight leg stretch is a great abdominal-strengthening exercise that also stretches the hamstrings at the same time—talk about multitasking!

Develop and Define Your Core: More than anything else, Pilates is known for strengthening the core, and boy, does it live up to its reputation! During every single exercise, you focus on keeping your core engaged, even while working your back, arms, legs and thighs. When done properly, you exercise from the center (your core) outward. Practicing 2-3 times a week, I've seen significant improvements in my core strength and endurance, as well as my abdominal definition. Because Pilates teaches you to engage and use your transverse abdominals (this is the horizontal muscle under the vertical "6-pack" muscle), it helps you to pull in and flatten your belly over time.

Alleviate Lower Back Pain: Research shows that Pilates does help reduce and alleviate lower back pain, and this is true in my experience, too. I used to have lower back pain on a regular basis, and I'd occasionally throw out my back to the point where I couldn't even walk or stand up for a few days. Most days, my back hurt most of the time, even if it wasn't completely debilitating. After incorporating Pilates into my fitness routine, I haven't had a single back incident in several years, which I attribute to my greater core strength and spinal mobility—both known products of a Pilates program. Many of my students were referred to Pilates by their doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists to help decrease pain and improve strength after injuries and surgeries to various parts of the body—not just the back.

Focus in the Moment and Forget about Your Day: Perhaps the best benefit of Pilates, for me, is that it requires my focus and attention. You have to concentrate on the idiosyncrasies of each movement—because there is more to it than meets the eye. The position of your feet, legs, neck, arms, shoulders. Consciously engaging your abdominals and holding that contraction. How your breathe and how your breath lines up with your movement. All these things matter if you're going to do it correctly and achieve the most benefits. When I focus in the moment during a class, my to-do list melts away from my mind and for at least 45 minutes, I am in that room, both physically and mentally. When the workout is over, I'm refreshed, relaxed, and reinvigorated and most of all—de-stressed.

If I haven't convinced you to try a class yet, read A Skeptic's Guide to Pilates or watch my Intro to Pilates video to learn more about the benefits and techniques. If you're ready for a taste, try my Pilates Abs Workout, Crunchless Core Workout or Pilates Hips & Thighs Workout videos in the privacy of your own home! It takes more than one try to truly understand the exercises and how to do them, so I always recommend trying something at least 3-5 times before you give up on it.

Have you tried Pilates? If so, what do you think about it? If not, are you willing to give it a chance now?

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YMWONG22 6/4/2021
Great article Report
Pilates is a must Report
THINCPL2004 12/2/2020
Awesome sauce Great article Report
CD26508743 12/1/2020
Good Report
CD26508743 10/17/2020
I like Pilates for core strength?? Report
Yes, I can do these. WooHoo. Report
Never *really* tried Pilates, but am planning on doing it 3x/week for the month, in my quest to challenge myself with new exercises. Gonna start today with the 10 min beginner vid. Report
Good article Report
Great blog. Pilates have really helped with controlling my weight gain as well as put me in a much better place mentally. Im glad to have found LifeSpan Pilates as they have provided great training and guidance to me. Report
Great article Report
Great Article! Thanks! Report
I can totally relate. I always thought Pilates to be just another "trending thing." However, I come across a very useful website, which made me want to try it out, and it was undoubtedly very enjoyable yet effective kind of workout. I'm gonna attach the link, incase if anyone else needs motivation:
https://lifespanpilates.com/ Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you for the information. Report
A very interesting article! I would like to give this one a try. Report
I would love to try pilates exercises! After reading your post I received a lot of knowledge about pilates. The one thing that I don't know before, I thought pilates is only for women but it is for everyone. Great to know that! http://beaubodslim.com/beverly-hill
/ Report

The reasons mentioned are good. But the best thing i enjoy about Pilates is it is not structured like regular gyms or yoga sessions - yet the results are wonderful..

I happen to be luck to find an awesome studio near my place https:// www.befitpilates.in / . It has an awesome instructor as well as the setup is also very good. Report
I'd like to try Pilates... Report
I would love to give Pilates a try. There seem to be so many benefits. Report
Pilates is great! Been doing it for 10 years now and since day one it has been an important part of my day.
I wrote my own pilates website www.pilates-kurs.org Report
I loved that you mentioned that "pilates is a lifestyle." I've started doing pilates a few weeks ago, but I can already see the changes in my life and in my body.For me, pilates is one of the best stress relievers. I am like you, when I am doing pilates, that is the only thing I am doing at the moment. My brain and body feel so refreshed after! www.everybodypilates.com / Report
I love pilates & have been taking classes for a few years now....it has done wonders for my posture & back pain (which doesn't exist anymore). I have gotten away from it over the holiday months, but am enjoying it again, but boy it's harder now!!! Got to get back in shape...when I go 2 times a week I feel the best benefit. Report
I am definitely willing to give pilates a chance afte reading this. I want a stronger core and less lower back pain. Report
I am definitely willing to give pilates a chance afte reading this. I want a stronger core and less lower back pain. Report
Pilates is a Great Starter program for being sedentary. That's were I started. It was great! Will be going back to it soon! Try it! Report
I tried pilates yestesrday for the first time. Great workout. Report
I tried pilates years ago and saw great results. I think I will add it back into my workout. Report
Being someone who runs and running was challenging for me at first I thought Pilates would be easy. That is not the case for sure! It's challenging and I like that. Keeps exercise interesting and definitely works muscles that don't get worked by running or walking. Report
I Love Pilates and take classes twice a week. I do a combination of mat and reformer. I would recommend an instructor until you get familiar with the moves. A minor adjustment makes all the difference. Report
I love Pilates! Report
I think Pilates is an important part of a comprehensive exercise regimen.
I took semi-private Pilates classes, twice a week, with a classically-trained
Pilate instructor. My problem area is my thighs and I can honestly say that PIlates has been THE most effective exercise in toning and reducing my thighs. My saddlebags were gone. Alas, the cost became prohibitive. I just purchased the HSN home Pilates trainer and I plan to begin using it this weekend. I am planning on slim thighs by my trip to Washington, DC at the end of May.
Go PIlates! Report
i've tried pilates and I'm not that interested in it. Its a good workout, but not for me. I guess it is true when people say "not every exercise was made for everyone"...and pilates happens to be one for me. Report
I did try pilates a couple of times; didn't realize just how difficult it was. Would take the class if they had it at my gym. Report
yes...I'm going to give it a try. Certainly can't hurt! Thanks! Report
I think I am where you were as far as being bored. Thanks so much for the video, watching it gave me the nudge I needed to push through the winter blaahhs. Report
I LOVE Pilates. It leaves me so energized and you get a really good workout. Report
Loooove pilates! I just started getting into it again and love how it makes me feel so long & lean! I try to do it every day for *at least* 10 minutes as add-ons to my other workouts. Report
would love to do this. I.think it would help. Report
I LOVE Pilates! I started back working out on July 5,2010. I was a size 14. Today is September 24, 2010. I can now fit into a old pair of jean that is a size 9. I do 30 minutes of Pilates, along with other exercises, 6 days a week. Sometimes I skip the other exercises, but I NEVER skip Pilates. Love it, can't live without it! Report
I like parts about posture, stretch & strength together, core and focus on the moment. Good posture and strong core are everything for me, I like to look good even though on days I think I'm fat. And like a multipurpose shampoo, pilate can do stretch AND strengthen the body at same time, that's like a big bonus while doing exercises! And it seems that pilate can help us to focus on current thing, instead of letting the mind thinking too much, wandering at all directions. I think we can incorporate this in our life :) Report
I love the idea of what I've heard and read about Pilates - I'll give Coach Nicole's videos a watch, and see. Lower back pain and arthritis, watch out! Report
If I had my choice of exercise programs, Pilates would absolutely be IT! Add a bit more cardio and life would be fabulous. Even on a bad day, I would feel so much better after my class.

I've missed out since the club I attended closed. I'm trying to find a "fit" and way to get it on my schedule some place new.
I've tried to tell others that EVERYONE can benefit: male or female, young or old, fit or fat. You start where you are and improve as you continue to work at it.

I will say there is a difference in teachers. Some follow just a plain routine, others REALLY know how to bring in variety and extras to gain the benefit. I had the privilege of taking classes from a retired ballerine who knew the science of the exercises and was so very encouraging.

I can say Pilates is worth it on all levels! Report
would love to try, but would be to embarrassed to do in public.. might have to find a time to try at home when the hubby is not around. Report
I love love love pilates. I thought it would be boring because I had tried yoga and it was a little too slow paced for my taste. Wow was pilates different. Yes it looks slow, but every move uses so many muscles and requires such concentration it is anything but boring. My first pilates videos were the ones on SP and also Katrina Pilates for the beginner, which I feel was a great intro both for learning the poses and breathing, as well as slowly building your muscles into the movements. Report
I have been looking for something to consolidate my long lean look - I definately do not want to look bunched up. I was never interestested in Pilates becasue I thought it was like Yoga and I'm not into any meditation-type thing. Recently though, I started to read about it and I am definitely going to be giving it a try! Report
i really like ellen barrett because she manages to incorporate standing and mat pilates along wit cardio and strength training all into one 45-minute workout. Report
Just wanted to let the guys out there, even old guys like me, know that Pilates is a great workout for them also. You'll have to go to four or five classes before you get the moves down, but it really helps with flexibility and strengthening the abs. And if you think that it is easy, wait until you try to do the V-sit-up! Report
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