by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Enhance your fitness routine with some mind-body strengthening. Give Pilates a try …
Many supplement their fitness routine with Pilates training, a workout on its own. Although Pilates focuses on the body’s core, its benefits radiate throughout the body, including the brain for improved mental health.
The moves may appear simple. However, each requires precision and control to properly execute. Throughout, technique is emphasized. The mind and body are continuously engaged as you flow from one exercise to the next. Give it a try. You’ll no longer wonder how Pilates delivers everything from steel abs to a content mind.
Good Enough for Soldiers
Originally, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates to help treat soldiers injured during World War I. This included the use of hospital beds to execute movements that would later be done on the Pilates reformer. With its therapeutic origin, Pilates is still used today to increase fitness as well as advance physical rehabilitation efforts to the next level.
Using your body’s own weight, Pilates sculpts strong muscles. Its stabilization and flexibility requirements help support the skeletal structure. Those with chronic pain often find Pilates exercises beneficial. Member Jill Balsam shares her experience with the Pilates reformer.
“My chronic muscle pain and arthritis has eased. I no longer take a daily diuretic or naproxen for pain,” Jill informs. She notes Pilates can focus on specific problem areas– like lower back, neck, and shoulders– to safely strengthen and condition. She took advantage of this when a back injury left her unable to walk or even stand.
Jill admits, “My first inclination was to stop exercising. However, when improvement was not imminent, I returned to my Pilates Reformer classes. My back strengthened significantly in a relatively short time.” Of course, returning to exercise after injury only should be done with the approval of your physician.
Pilates can be a gentle segue after physical therapy, surgery, or injury to advance your fitness routine under the watchful attention of an instructor. Jill continues, “I no longer have back pain. I am fully mobile.”
At 70 years old, Jill and her personal trainer are thrilled with her results. “My personal trainer was amazed at my progress, including my improved mobility, flexibility, and core strength.” Jill is pretty amazed, too!
Member Rob Tapper incorporates the Pilates reformer into his fitness program, which also includes training and aquatic workouts. The Pilates aspect helps him with everything from daily functionality to a better golf game. It also improves his other fitness efforts.
“Pilates has greatly helped my mental state and self-awareness. I feel looser, calmer, and stronger as a result of my Pilates reformer sessions with Instructor Tracy,” Rob shares.
By continuously challenging its practitioners, Pilates increases their strength and flexibility. Rob notes these benefits improve the confidence and energy levels with which he tackles daily life, whether doing jobs around the house or keeping up with his two sons. And, yes, his Pilates work is apparent on the golf course where Rob has taken a few strokes off his game.
“The Pilates reformer complements the personal training and aquatic work I accomplish with the assistance of Trainer/Swim Instructor Allison,” attests Rob. This synergy of Pilates reformer, land, and water workouts has helped Rob advance his fitness level beyond what he thought possible.
Pilates helps gain mental strength and stability. We aren’t talking about that supposed ability to lift objects through sheer mental focus. Pilates mind strengthening is subtler and a lot more useful. (Unless you are at a party. Then, it is useful to be able to entertain others by making objects float through mental willpower. That must require a different class.)
Experts often attribute mental benefits to the brain’s relaxed state during Pilates. Like yoga or meditation, Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection. It silences the “noisy thoughts” of daily life. Practicing Pilates has been shown to increase serotonin (feel-good hormones) and decrease stress, anxiety, and distractions.
Pilates also has been shown as a motivating factor in continuing physical activity beyond the mat (or other apparatus). Perhaps it can be credited for Rob’s commitment to other fitness endeavors, including the stamina to be more active with his children.
Give It a Try
Whether to complement your workout, improve your sport, or simply make movement more possible, the Pilates family of workouts gets results. Discover why this method has thrived for a century. See what it can do for you.
“Benefits of Incorporating Pilates into Your Life,” at fitnesshealth101.com.
“Pilates,” by Kara Mayer Robinson at webmd.com.
Pilates mat: pixabay.com/en/yoga-group-fitness-exercise-female-1994667