Pilates is a special type of exercise that uses many of the same movements and similar poses to those found in yoga. Named for Joseph Pilates, the exercise increased in popularity in recent years, which led to practitioners finding studios in neighborhoods all around the world and locating DVDs and videos for home use. Pilates spent some time in the UK before moving to the United States to perfect his technique. He wanted to create an exercise method that would work for those with limited mobility following injuries or surgeries. Before you take your first class, you might want to learn more about Pilates and its core tenants.
Focus on the Core
One of the key tenants of Pilates is the focus the exercise puts on the core. Though some refer to this as the center, others call it the core. It applies to the muscles in the upper and lower stomach. Pilates instructors teach their students that focusing on their core can help them improve their posture, look better and make some of the more advanced movements easier. The 100 and other similar exercises focus specifically on targeting and strengthening the core muscles.
Use Precise Movements
The old story of the turtle and the hare applies to Pilates. Pilates focuses more on making each movement count than doing more repetitions of each movement. Instead of doing hundreds of sit ups, you can do the 100 in 60 seconds. You lay on the ground with your legs extended in the air and carefully lift your upper body off the ground as you move various muscle groups. The idea behind Pilates is that if you focus your concentration on one specific task and use precise movements, you’ll improve your body and change those muscle groups faster.
Many people find that Pilates and yoga share a number of core beliefs, and one of those core beliefs is the importance of proper breathing. When you take a Pilates class at a local studio or use a DVD at home, you’ll find that the instructor encourages you to associate your breathing with the movements that you make. This might include inhaling as you life your body off the ground or exhaling as you come back to center. Proponents believe that controlling your breathing can help you focus better and make your workout count. Pilates courses give you the chance to improve your mental well being and get in shape at the same time.