02 Feb 2024
What Is Pilates?
Created by German physical trainer, Joseph Pilates, the discipline focuses on using stretches and small repetitive movements to strengthen the body and the core. Though similar in appearance to Yoga, Pilates differs in its reduced focus on spirituality and is more often characterised as a low-impact gym activity.
The discipline is noted for helping improve muscle tone, rather than building it, and generally focuses on using the abdomen and lower back muscles to achieve this. Precise movement patterns are key to the discipline and practitioners are encouraged to concentrate on their movements while also controlling their breathing.
There are two main kinds of Pilates - mat and reformer. The former requires you to sit or lie on an exercise mat and employs your body weight as the main source of resistance. In contrast, the reformer method uses a spring-based resistance machine with a sliding platform. Exercises are performed by moving back and forth atop the sliding platform by way of straps and pulleys attached to the machine’s box-like frame.
What Are the Benefits of Pilates?
1. Core Strength and Flexibility
By focusing on strengthening the body’s trunk, which extends from the shoulders to the hips, Pilates provides a comprehensive core workout. Not only is this a benefit in its own right - core strength also has a positive impact on posture. A strong and aligned core provides the required muscle infrastructure to keep your body in a healthy position while doing things like sitting at a desk for extended periods. Poor posture while performing activities like this can have a number of negative health outcomes, including back pain and digestion issues.
Pilates also involves a significant amount of stretching, which contributes to increased flexibility. The benefits of this are vast, including lower risk of injury and increased range of motion as you get older.
2. Balance, Coordination and Awareness
A strong and aligned core makes it easier to find your balance and keep it. This also improves your coordination, resulting in more balanced movements. As well as better spacial awareness, practising Pilates regularly also contributes to a higher level of body awareness, which helps you tune into where and when your body holds tension and how to release it. Understanding these bodily signals and knowing how to respond to them can improve your day-to-day quality of life.
3. Mental Health and General Wellbeing
By combining stretching with strength and resistance training, Pilates brings together numerous exercise activities that contribute to better mental health and wellbeing in their own right to create a truly heart-pumping workout. The focus on intentional, controlled breathing also helps to reduce stress. Practising these breathing exercises outside of the Pilates context can help to increase the longevity of this mental health benefit.
Ready to bring these benefits to your workplace? Learn more about our corporate wellness programs today.
Pilates for Weight Loss
Though it may not be as effective at promoting weight loss as more intensive cardio exercises (like swimming or running), Pilates is still a great way to burn calories. This is especially true if you’re participating in a variety of Pilates classes that tackle different parts of the body and use different kinds of movements, ideally multiple times per week.
You’re most likely to see weight loss results by combining Pilates with other healthy habits, like a healthy diet and other types of strength and cardio exercise. Remember too that Pilates has many other benefits - regular participation will help you tone your muscles, which in turn can make you look fitter and healthier, even if you don’t actually lose much weight.
Pilates and Mindfulness
What Is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a cognitive skill and a type of meditation. It involves focusing on your awareness of the things you’re sensing and feeling at any given moment. Refraining from interpreting or passing judgement on these inputs is key to practising the skill, as is the use of intentional breathing patterns. Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and improve overall levels of body and mind relaxation.
The difference between meditation and mindfulness can be tricky to pinpoint. Though the spectrum of meditation techniques is vast, they all require a degree of mindfulness. As such, mindfulness can be thought of as an element of meditation. And whereas meditation is often regarded as a more formal, time-bound, and even spiritual activity, mindfulness can be practised anywhere, anytime, either on a scheduled or as-needed basis.
How Mindfulness and Pilates Work Together
There is a lot of crossover between Pilates and mindfulness - both require a focus on your breathing and the placement of your body. In fact, it would be more correct to say that mindfulness is a crucial part of Pilates.
By combining physical exertion with mindfulness, Pilates brings together body and mind for a workout that improves both physical and mental health.
As well as yielding benefits at the individual level, these activities can also strengthen and improve your workplace culture. Get in touch, and we’ll work with you to create a custom program that nurtures a more cohesive team environment while promoting focus and wellbeing.
Back To News Stories