One day, not so long ago, my gym membership expired and when I called up to extend the membership they provided me with a more expensive offer. Hence, I carried out a cost/benefit analysis as any informal economist would do, and I came to the conclusion that for what I was spending I wasn’t receiving much in return- after one year I didn’t look or feel any better.
Today I am so grateful that I rejected my gym membership- I think intuition was into play :). After regularly practicing Pilates for four months I can never go back to the simplistic fitness regime. Furthermore, when I occasionally go to the gym to do some cardio exercises, (which I would rather do in the park, but London weather can be pretty miserable at times) I could not help myself but make a bad grimace when I see how badly and inaccurately people exercise- it reminds me of the times I did my fitness conditioning regime. Personal trainers aren’t any better; they are expensive and show you a limited spectrum of exercises, which they supervise roughly at most.
Joseph Pilates invented Pilates in the early 20th century. Joe lived in England during WWI and helped many wounded soldiers recover from their injuries. He attached springs onto hospital bed to assist the patients while they carried out the exercises. In the 1920s he emigrated in the US and together with his wife Clara opened the first Pilates studio in New York. Pilates was initially very popular among dancers, after which it became popular among elites (thanks to Ron Fletcher, one of Joes students, who opened a studio in L.A.) and today it is finally accessible to all of us.
Regular Pilates training improves balance, posture, strength, endurance, awareness, symmetry and encourages it the development of lean muscle tissue.
It does so through
Pilates demands intense focus. Exercises must be done in a certain way, otherwise no benefit can be extracted from them. Hence focus is paramount in accurate execution of exercises.
Control is a prerequisite for effective Pilates training. The goal is to perform each exercise with greatest control. Concentration is hence the foundation of control.
Every movement in Pilates begins from the center or the ‘powerhouse’- abdomen, upper and lower back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs. Each movement is merely an extension of the center. The nature of Pilates exercises is such that it balances and strengthens your core.
Flow and Efficiency of Movement
Once precision is achieved the exercises are meant to flow within and out of each other. Physical energy from the center coordinates the outer movements.
The objective is to carry out precise and perfect movements- even a few will provide you with multiple benefits in comparison to thousand imperfect, spastic movements.
Accurate breathing enables perfectly coordinated movements. Without it the body experiences a dis-balance, which eventually deteriorates the overall physical and mental well being. Joe Pilates said: ‘breathe out as if you are squeezing a wet towel dry’. When breathing the chest needs to expand and contract naturally through adequate regulation of the abdominal muscles.
Want to give Pilates a go? Good for you! The photos from today’s article were taken at the Angel based Pilates HQ studio. The atmosphere studio is bright and well equipped and my instructor Keziah was lovely, very attentive and giving a wide range of full body exercises. I left the class feeling lighter and more energised!
I normally train in Marylebone based Pilates Off the Square, which I also highly recommend. All instructors are professionally trained and provide you tailored exercises depending either on your weaknesses or what you prefer to train the most, or both.
Enjoy your training!
Have you tried Pilates before? Let me know all about your Pilates experiences here or tweet me @ indigomemoirs
Credit to Valeria for providing great photography for this article.