Put your mind to it

Pilates energises the mind and body, leaving you with an amazing body awareness inside out, writes Anjali Sareen

health

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness, believed Joseph Pilates,
creator of the worldwide popular exercise system known as pilates. This holds true even more so today as our lifestyles increasingly include
experiential activities and adventures that challenge our physical and fitness levels.

So how does pilates fit into our lives? Outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, biking, and various sports have become popular alternatives or add-ons to indoor workouts for many fitness enthusiasts. Holidays based on activities such as water-sports, safaris and more have gained
much popularity, too. All these require a person to have a certain level of fitness that is not just based on conventional definitions of size or speed of muscle. To enjoy these activities safely with minimal stress, requires our bodies to have a strength based on good control, strong core, balance and stability. And, that is where an integrated total body exercise system like pilates comes in. Because all of the above, and more, are the focus of a well-programmed pilates workout.

What is pilates about?

Joseph Pilates is believed to have been way ahead of his time in his understanding of movement and exercise, as applied to our bodies.
This, over 100-years-old, exercise system was called Contrology by Joseph Pilates, during his lifetime. A very apt name as the essence of pilates is controlled, precise movement.

In recent years there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases reported due to workout-related stress and injuries to the body — resulting from the many workout programmes being offered for strength, weight-loss, mind-body focus, flexibility, sports etc. The prevailing trend of creating a competitive environment, re-enforced by peer pressure
and group psychology has people attempting to push limits of strength, endurance, and speed — beyond their capabilities or with lack of professional guidance.

Pilates as a stand-alone fitness programme creates a balance of strength with mobility while integrating endurance, muscle toning, and impacting injury-
prevention. As a whole, resulting in better posture, stronger core, and a well-balanced muscular system. 

The mind-body focus through these workouts builds a body awareness that enables a person to move better and stronger — whether you are running, playing a sport, or doing daily-living activities.

That’s what makes pilates a total body integrated workout programme that brings together varied fitness and workout goals.

More than just fitness

The scope of pilates goes beyond being just a fitness workout. Pilates, as part of the training regimes of professional athletes and sportspersons, helps enhance performance and has a significant impact on injury prevention.

The springs-based resistance training pilates equipment is used in rehab and sports injury clinics across the world.
When adapted for special populations, pilates addresses many concerns such as osteoarthritis, hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer survivors, disc-related spine issues, and shoulder, hip, knee problems.
Pilates workouts for pregnant and postpartum women are effective and beneficial for addressing their unique needs.

What is a pilates workout?

The pilates system of exercise is broadly described as mat work with bodyweight exercises, and springs-based resistance training done on equipment designed by Joseph Pilates (that he referred to as apparatus).

Mat pilates classes are popular offerings in fitness centres that format larger group classes. The huge popularity of pilates workouts, overseas and in India, is due to the resistance training workouts done on varied pilates machines, the most popular of which is the reformer.

The resistance training on pilates machines contributes to the versatility and adaptability of pilates workouts.

Workouts can be specifically programmed for individual goals, fitness levels and needs, making the machines an integral part of the pilates workouts.

Pilates workouts using the resistance of springs are especially effective for achieving goals of strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility.

Along with a strong core, lengthened spine, and good posture is what pilates is well known for. Pilates is most effective when taught in a personal training session. Individual-based sessions are preferred as customised pilates sessions as they are amazing in the quality of results — that can be seen within just a few sessions.

Often perceived to be a workout that involves stretching, pilates is actually a strength and conditioning workout for the mind and body. 

Its benefits apply to both men and women, as the goal of these workouts is creating a
balanced body, strong from the inside and outside.

After all, most of the elite sportspersons and athletes worldwide have pilates as part of their fitness and training regime.

 

(The author is co-owner The Zone Mind & Body Studio)

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