Friend and Pilates Instructor Amber…. BEAUTIFUL  

 Pilates 101

Burnt-out from years of dance I was hesitant to jump on the pilates bandwagon. It looked too expensive, slow, and much like the endless exercises from dance rehearsals. Then I started to get curious…. maybe there were a few benefits to discover. After all, you can’t judge a book by its cover!

This week I had the privilege of a private Pilates reformer class with talented EQUINOX trainer Joanna Hoch. And honestly? I loved it. I was surprised to find I had such a good time. Now I know there’s a reason WHY pilates is behind the health and happiness of  celebrities, athletes, and fitness folks alike! This is your week to LEARN and FEEL the effects of Pilates – read on and find out how pilates can help you find your core… and so much more 🙂

Developed in the early 20th century by a gymnast, Joseph Pilates, Pilates was originally proposed as a workout system to improve the rehabilitation program of individuals who served in the armed forces during the first world war. After the war, Joseph moved to New York City where he began working with dancers and athletes like Martha Graham and George Balanchine. Word of the dramatic results  of the Pilates method spread, and soon it became the exercise of choice for not only dancers, but also celebrities and professional athletes. For a long time, this unique form of exercise was limited to this elite community. That has all changed. Now millions of people are familiar with the Pilates method of exercise. They have discovered for themselves that Pilates can help them gain the strength, flexibility, and balance of a professional dancer, without having to spend hours at the gym. Joseph Pilates, believed an individual’s physical and mental health were strongly interrelated and developed Pilates to focus on controlling the muscles with the mind. His Pilates method is a series of about 500 exercises to improve flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness. practice these exercises regularly in pilates and benefit in more ways than one! Read on….

Benefits Of  A Regular Pilates Practice:

1. Pilates is WHOLE BODY fitness.

Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. While Pilates training focuses on core strength, it also trains the body as an integrated whole. Pilates workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.

Attention to core support and full-body fitness — including the breath and the mind — provide a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere. It is also the reason that Pilates is so popular for injury rehabilitation and  used by elite athletes to build a strong movement foundation.

2. Pilates is for EVERYBODY.

The old, the young, the elite athlete, and those new to exercise can find benefits from building a strong pilates foundation. Building from core strength, focusing on proper alignment, and a body/mind integrative approach make Pilates accessible to all. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to fit every individual’s needs.

3. Creates Strength – Not bulk.

Pilates does not aim to build muscles “for show”. Instead works to create toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole. Pilates uses functional fitness principles to create long, lean muscles that help every individual move through life stronger.

4. Increases Flexibility

Pilates works toward a SAFE increase in length and stretch of the muscles and  builds a better range of motion within the joints.

5. Creates a stronger CORE.

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This allows the neck and shoulders to relax, and frees the rest of the muscles and joints do their jobs — and not more. In pilates you’ll work your core “deeper” than you would in a normal strength workout…. it might help you find the 6 pack you’ve always dreamed about!

6. Perfect Posture and a long, lean appearance

Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. The functional exercises from Pilates and the focus on neutral alignment trains the body to support a perfectly aligned spine. There’s no doubt about it…. when you look at a pilates instructor, their posture is perfect! Perfect posture combined with the exercises of pilates helps the body look like a long, lean, well-balanced machine!

7. Prevents  Future Injuries

Pilates helps to condition the whole body, not just certain muscles. This helps balance the muscle and strength of the body. Since no set of muscles is ever over or under trained, there is less risk for injury. The body becomes more fluid and supple and is better protected against injury.

8. Mind-Body Connection and Increased Awareness

Pilates is founded on  “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” Each movement is practiced with total attention. Exercising this way unites the mind and body for the best possible benefit. Using the Pilates principles — centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow –the body and mind is integrated as a whole.

3. Fearless Fitness Challenge of the Week: PILATES!

This week I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone…. and onto the mat with pilates! Not sure if pilates is for you? I wasn’t either…. but a great instructor and a fun class quickly fixed that! Can’t wait for another class…. maybe you’ll be in it!

Try out either of the two most common types of Pilates.  The first, Mat-based Pilates, is a series of exercises performed on the floor using gravity and your own body weight to provide  resistance. The central aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of the body to improve posture, balance and coordination. The second, Equipment-based Pilates includes specific equipment like the ‘Reformer’ or even free weights to offer resistance to the muscles. It’s best to learn how to use the reformer first in a private lesson, and then move on to explore group reformer workouts.

All of the gyms I work at currently offer many group and private pilates lessons. Be sure to check out the following instructors for excellent instruction and a fun pilates session:

EQUINOX: Jayme, Amber, Lia, and Joanna are all wonderful!

SF Bay Club: Angeles, Stephanie, Elizabeth Larkum are excellent

Club One: Both Rachael and Angeles are perfect picks 🙂

More of a studio person? Check out INFORMED BODY pilates. Fellow lululemon Ambassador Katie teaches an early morning “Bend Bitch and Burn” class that the lululemon ladies can’t stop raving about. Owner Jill Harris and her team are all amazing and will teach you something new in the beautiful Hayes Valley studio.

This week is your chance to MAKE IT HAPPEN on the pilates mat! have a great time…. I cant wait to hear about it when you come to class! See you soon!


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