Pilates is a collection of exercises somewhat reminiscent of yoga. It was developed in the 1920s by the gymnast Joseph Pilates, who originally devised the exercises as physical therapy for injured dancers. Many of the movements were patterned after those of animals like big cats, seals and swans.
What Does Pilates Involve?
Pilates emphasizes strengthening the body’s core or the muscles in the body’s mid-section. The core includes the lower back, abdomen and thighs. This is a low-impact form of exercise that emphasizes correct form over “feeling the burn.” It is, therefore, less likely to cause injury than other types of exercises.
There are over 600 exercises, and they range from easy to difficult. “The 100” involves laying on one’s back with the legs and head raised. The person pumps their arms up and down while keeping them straight. The exercise both strengthens the stomach muscles and teaches breath control.
“Rolling like a ball” also strengthens the stomach muscles and massages the person’s back. The individual sits down with their legs drawn up and then rocks back and forth.
“The saw” is another beginner’s exercise. The person sits with their legs straight and spread wide. With their arms straight out to the side, the person twists to one side to touch their toes. They pulse back and forth over the foot three times and then return to the starting position. They then twist to the other side and repeat the exercise.
What are the Benefits?
Pilates strengthens the body’s core, and that has multiple benefits. It reduces the chances of injury; a person with a strong core is less likely to hurt their back while lifting a heavy object than somebody with a weak core.
This form of exercise can also improve balance, coordination and flexibility. The emphasis on correct form not only reduces the chance of injury, but it also helps the athlete improve their posture. Pilates itself is also flexible. There are hundreds of exercises, so the person is unlikely to get bored.
What is the Pilates Reformer?
This is a piece of exercise equipment that was invented by Joseph Pilates himself. It has a frame about the size and shape of a bed. The frame has a foot bar at one end and a set of springs at the other. A wheeled platform or carriage lies within the frame. The carriage has shoulder blocks that keep the athlete from slipping off. It is also attached to the springs at one end, and the apparatus can be adjusted to provide different levels of resistance.
Many exercises can be performed on the Reformer. A person can sit, stand or lie down. Many of the exercises involve pushing or pulling the carriage, while others involve holding it in place during a routine.
At Zero Gravity Fitness in Ocoee, we are proud to offer a wide range of Pilates classes that are led by our experienced trainers. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn more about your options!