10 reasons to practise Pilates

Ten Reasons Why You Should
Make Pilates a Regular Part of Your Fitness Plan!

You have probably already been to one of my Pilates sessions at my Hayden Hill studio; at LA Fitness; Bannatynes in Cheltenham or DW Sports in Gloucester or perhaps you’ve found one of my web links and are deciding which class to come to. Please read on and let me know what you think….. I love getting your comments and questions so keep them coming. See you soon.
I was reading the notice board in one of the local health clubs recently. I like to see how they describe the Pilates classes I teach for their members.
It was no surprise to see a very general write up with words like stretch, relax, soothing and peaceful. If you ask staff they will say things like ‘ it’s a stretch session a bit like Yoga’. How wrong they are, Pilates is a body changing, cross training gem that should be the most powerful part of any fitness plan.
In fact, in over 25years as a Fitness Instructor I’ve had more clients referred to me by health professionals than for all the other class types put together. Mobility and flexibility improve with Pilates practice, however, the extreme stretches and positions in a Yoga session are not required for Pilates class. Controlled strengthening exercises flow together to shape and tone muscles using body weight, mini and balance balls and resistance bands. Don’t be mislead, Pilates isn’t just for the ‘walking wounded’ it’s for you if you’re serious about your health and fitness. We all know we should think about ourselves as a whole being, how we should consider our fitness and nutrition, work and play balance, happiness and stress levels – Pilates classes can give you a way to achieve many of these targets.
An experienced mat Pilates instructor will lead you through a range of exercises, will challenge your ability to balance, stabilise and control your body in many different positions. Your muscles will work hard, your ‘core’ or torso muscles will wake–up and you will be encouraged to ‘switch them on’ for the duration of the class while breathing deeply and with purpose while you focus on each and every movement. No wonder a good Pilates teacher is a better way to a six-pack than 100’s of boring and often painful, ineffective crunches.
So here are 10 reasons you MUST include Pilates into your Fitness Regime
1. Improve your Posture – look 7lbs lighter.
2. Relieve your Back Pain
3. Improve the quality of your sleep
4. Increase muscle strength – lose inches
5. Improve Osteoporosis – improve bone density
6. Relax and reduce stress – feel energised
7. Improve Stress Incontinence
8. Improve Balance and Co-Ordination – improve your sport
9. Aid recovery from injury;
10. Train without Pain.
Read on to discover the why good Pilates classes are always full of devoted regulars.
1. Improve Your Posture
Your spine supports the weight of your body and allows your body to move with ease and comfort. That’s the theory anyway. But in practice, hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen or slumped in front of a TV means that the spine’s natural S shape is lost, resulting in back pain and rounded shoulders. Pilates helps to re-align the spine and with that comes better posture.

2. Relief from back pain
A great deal of lower back pain comes from poor posture and our daily mistreatment of our spines. Re-aligning your spine and improving your posture can often eliminate non-specific low back pain entirely.

3. A good night’s sleep
Name three things essential for life and you will probably list air, water and food. Few people will mention sleep and yet it too is essential to life. Millions in England alone use prescription drugs to get to sleep. Pilates can help stretch muscles, releasing tension and pain, and it can also help trigger natural sleep responses. Lack of sleep not only makes you tired and irritable but also prevents you losing body fat.

4. Increase your strength without adding muscle bulk
Pilates helps increase both your strength without adding unwanted bulk because it focuses on developing your “core” – the muscles found in your torso. By toning and stretching these muscles, and by correcting your posture, your natural strength will improve in leaps and bounds. With practice and by continually progressing exercises you will improve your muscle endurance too.

5. Pilates can help prevent osteoporosis
One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will break a bone, often due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone condition affecting millions of people every year, the spine, wrist and hips becoming thin and weak and susceptible to fractures. By promoting good posture and balance, Pilates can actively help you avoid becoming one of those affected.

6. A great way to relax and beat stress
Pilates is a form of exercise that re-introduces you to your own body and the better you understand your body and how it works, the easier it will be for you to release tension, relax and beats the stresses and strains of modern life. Many classes are set to rhythmic chill-out music to further enhance feelings of relaxation and to create a flowing tempo to the exercises.

7. Help with prevention of stress incontinence
Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence and affects over three million people in the UK. A common cause of this type of incontinence in women is pregnancy, where the pelvic floor muscles can be weakened, but as we get older muscles in the pelvic area can weaken too. Pilates will help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, thereby curing what can be a very distressing problem for sufferers. Many clients avoid surgery by practicing just a few simple Pilates exercises a few times each week.

8. Improve your balance and co-ordination
Pilates helps improve your balance and co-ordination by realigning your spine and strengthening your “core” muscles. Better balance and co-ordination means fewer injuries – explaining Pilates growing popularity among professional sports people – from dancers to rugby players. Pilates training has included twists and turns that for years were removed from other forms of fitness training, these very movements allow the body to develop as it should, ‘waking up’ lazy and lengthening tight muscles.

9. Helps aid recovery after injury – and prevent injury recurring
Because of its no impact nature, Pilates is widely recognised as beneficial to people who are recovering from many sports injuries. Pilates can play a big part in correcting body alignment and with practice further injury can be avoided.

10. No pain plenty gain!
In most gyms you will hear the mantra “no pain, no gain”, but you won’t hear that in Pilates sessions. Pilates is a gentle non-aerobic form of exercise that will tone and strengthen your muscles and transform poor posture without over working the joints or the heart. Exercises are taught in levels and as you progress through these your workout becomes more challenging. So, you don’t need Aerobics to get hot and maybe even a little sweaty!!

Jax Allen is program director for FitnessSolutionsUK.com the Cheltenham based company Helping Really Busy People Look Better Naked.

30/12/10 ©

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