Pilates, as a low-impact exercise helps reduce and correct posture related problems for people of all ages and abilities.
As a professional Pilates coach in the UAE what would you say are the top 10 benefits of doing Pilates regularly, either on its own or as part of an overall fitness program?
1. PILATES IS HIGHLY ADAPTABLE.
Pilates is a sophisticated fitness activity for all ages including pregnant women and people with different medical conditions.
Depending on the needs of the individual Pilates can be modified and adapted so that it can be incorporated into ones current exercise program.
Structural integration of Pilates and learning to create a flexible, solid body that can move freely and efficiently are important goals of Pilate’s fitness.
2. PILATES BUILD STRUCTURAL FITNESS:
For structural fitness Pilates work for all body parts in a very balanced way, and not just the Abs.
Developing physical fitness that works for harmonious mind and body balance requires much more than a calisthenic or a spot reduction approach to fitness.
The Pilates principles of control, centering, concentration, breath, flow, and precision all support an integrative mind and body experience through Pilates exercise.
3. PILATES EXERCISES HELP TO STRENGTHEN THE MUSCLES
A human body’s muscular system consists of roughly 650 muscles that aid in movement, blood flow and other bodily functions.
There are three types of muscles: skeletal muscles, which are connected to bone and helps with voluntary movement, smooth muscle which are found inside organs and serve to move substances through organs, and cardiac muscles which is found in the heart and helps pump blood.
The human body contains approximately 100 trillion cells.
On average, your heart will beat 100,000 times and pump about 2,000 gallons of blood each day.
There are at least 10 times as many bacteria in the human body as cells.
The average adult takes over 20,000 breaths a day.
Each day, the kidneys process about 200 quarts (50 gallons) of blood to filter out about 2 quarts of waste and water.
Adults excrete about a quarter and a half (1.42 litters) of urine each day.
The human brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells.
Water makes up more than 50 percent of the average adult’s body weight.
Pilates exercises primarily focus on building the muscular strength without the use heavy and fancy equipment’s.
It can be done on a mat or reformer.
Even the basic Pilates mat exercise movements and techniques are deeply linked with core muscle stability.
The nine core muscles that are internally connected with the spinal cord processes are the powerhouses of our body.
Here is one of my client’s experience:
“I like pilates bcoz it targets body parts and even there is not heavy weights the muscles really get sore and works out bcoz we do a lot of pulsing. I personally feel it improves my concentration also as you really need to focus of the body part , breathing and reps at the same time” – Divya Kaur
4. BUILDING A STRONG CORE BASE
Pilates is a method of functional exercise involving core activation at deeper levels.
Building core is a popular trend in health clubs for its resulting benefits. Moreover, a strong core stabilizes body balance, improves posture; reduces tension and pain in the lower back; and improves athletic performance.
Tips for the “Core”: Your Core is made up of various muscle groups:
The rectus abdominis (“Abs”) at the front of your belly; the internal and external obliques, in the front and side of the belly; the transversus muscles that go horizontally across your lower stomach; the erector spinae, the large muscles on either side of your spinal cord; the muscles surrounding your scapulae (shoulder blades); the gluteus muscles in your hips and buttocks; and the iliopsoas and quadratus lumborum muscles in your pelvis.
These are the muscles helps to stabilise all body actions. They are equally integrated with the upper and lower body movements and enabling the body to move in any direction or stand in one position without losing its balance.
A Simple Check: Standing straight, hold your left hand behind the lower back region and attach your fingers to the right edge of the lumbar (lower back) spine spot. Lift your right hand straight up above the shoulder line and then arm down. Repeat this process two or three times. You should experience the core stabilisation during the process if you could place your hand in the right spot. The movement is less likely to be possible if your lower back covered with fat especially in obese people.
A strong, balanced core is essential for proper body shape and posture. When the core is strong and flexible, the body will feel a new sense of freedom and balance in managing arms and legs to move well.
5. REGULAR PILATE’S EXERCISE HELPS GET LEAN LOOK LEADING TO WEIGHT LOSS
The main function of Pilate’s exercises is to strengthen and lengthen the body’s midsection muscles around the trunk area.
Having better control on the chest, shoulders, abdominals, lower back, butt, and pelvis muscles will help to conquer greater results in achieving a leaner body frame.
Studies have shown that applying various Pilate’s technics to other workout routines like strength training could also tap neuromuscular contraction much faster and in an effective manner.
A calorie restricted diet program along with Pilate’s exercises could also lead to achieving the weight loss goals.
6. NO FANCY GYM REQUIRED
Doing Pilates doesn’t need an expensive gym membership. Pilates workouts can be performed anywhere in moderation.
A basic Pilates mat is enough to perform the traditional classical Pilates exercises at any place in a relaxing ambience at home, outside the park, or an open terrace and so on.
There are great variations in the way of Pilates exercises are presented today, all differing in their approach and effectiveness.
From Mat and Reformer, to the Studio and Contemporary, the options can be confusing, and it can be difficult to know which Pilates is best suited for one’s specific fitness goals.
Mat Pilates: can be performed on the floor and the flow of exercise involves a little no equipment’s. Mat classes heavily focus on strengthening the core and the level of challenge depends on being at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Pricing will be lower.
Contemporary Studio Pilates:are practiced in fully equipped studios under the supervision of an expert. Main focus of contemporary Pilates varies from rehab and sports training to general fitness and pregnancy exercises. The equipment’s used are Trapeze Table, Wunda Chair and barrels. Pricing will be comparatively higher.
Group Reformer Pilates:Group Reformer Pilates offers a dynamic, full body workout all on one piece of equipment: the Reformer. Using resistance springs to increase or decrease the intensity. Price can be low or high depends on the nature.
7. PILATES EXERCISES IMPROVE POSTURE
Pilates exercises can be a fantastic way to change habits about torso and fitness activities in routine life. Pilates training help to support good posture habits.
One of my Pilates Personal Training client’s experience:
“Many years I was facing a severe pain & numbness issues around my upper back and lower back. My posture always had a forward bend shoulder.
I went to the doctor and they found the regeneration of my Cirvical Vertebras (cervical spondylitis) My doctor advised me to do the core strengthening exercise regularly.
That time I was literary driving around 6-7 hours everyday because of my job. He quickly saw the mechanical issues affecting my posture and advised me to make necessary alterations on the car seat.
However, I changed the seat and started Pilates conditioning, but to be fair, it was a bit tough for me to adapt the Pilates terminologies into my daily life. Later on I got the positive results it makes me motivated and I’m still continuing my conditioning part regularly.” – Mr. Mannath – (marketing manager)
8. REHAB EXERCISES FOR BACK PAIN OR SPINAL INJURY
People with significant back problems may benefit from several one-on-one Pilates sessions with a qualified Pilates instructor. Pain originates from degeneration of the intervertebral discs and joints.
Pilates exercises can reduce postural imbalances, decrease wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the inter-vertebral joints and discs.
9. PILATES EXERCISES FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
There is an increasing amount of research that demonstrates Pilates positive effect on both pregnant women and the baby’s long-term health.
Pilates exercises strengthen deep abdominal muscles to counter the laxity which makes it less likely to develop pain in the pelvis and lower spine.
Also reduces the pain from the sacri-iliac joint (SIJ) Breathing is a key focus in all Pilates exercise as a good air exchange is important for pregnant women and her baby.
Learning to control breathing is also beneficial so as to avoid upper back stiffness.
One of my client’s experience:
“In my personal experience after my first cesarean, I didn’t get enough gap between my second baby and I was overweight and working.
This time I was already joined for a weight loss training with Shihab.
My doctor strictly advised to reduce my weight and strengthen the core muscles and improve breathing capacity.
I remember it was very difficult and I was tired and stressed out. Shihab advised me to shift the training to Pilates at home 2-3 per week.
I didn’t lose much weight, but it improved my confidence level, stamina and strength. And I’m happy that I got my second baby without a surgery”.- Ms. Mala Malhotra (Emirates tutor)
10. Pilates Enhance Flexibility & Quality of Life.
The term Flexibility means elongate the muscles from the normal position.
The quality of life is enhanced by improving and sustaining a good range of motion in the joints.
Ideally Pilates exercises will not extent the muscles more than the limits, but the back and abdominal strength you build through Pilates exercise enhance the flexibility and you could perform your day to day activities without a joint stress.
This individual body flexibility level “sit and reach test” you can perform after three weeks of regular Pilates practice, it remarks where the result is defined as on the personal flexibility score.
In Summary, although, Pilates is highly demanding because it requires a lot of focus and thought to perform each exercise correctly, safely, and effectively. There are many factors that have to come together to perform and exercise correctly: breathing, head/neck placement, spinal position, stabilisation of the spine, shoulder blade placement, and coordination of arms and legs. Accomplishing all these tasks requires spending a considerable amount of time and patience. A qualified instructor is required for learning these exercises correctly and can be well worth the investment, as exercises performed incorrectly can increase problems.
Shihab C Alavi - Master Personal Trainer For Dubai & Sharjah
Shihab is a personal trainer based in Dubai who offers personal training services throughout Dubai and Sharjah. He has 8 years of experience in the fitness world with the top 3 brands. An expert in designing and implementing dietary programs based on each clients individual requirements.