Beginner’s Guide to Pilates
Whether you are looking to strengthen your core, add low impact exercise into your regime or improve your flexibility and strength, Pilates can help. Core strength is an essential component to improving overall fitness along with postural alignment, giving you the best possible chance of preventing injury, suffering from lower back or other joint pain.
What is Pilates?
Pilates concentrates on postural alignment, balance, core strength and flexibility. Developed by Joseph Pilates over 80 years ago, he developed ‘Contrology’, reflecting his belief in the importance of the mind’s control over the body. “It is the mind itself which builds the body. The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body – and not at its mercy.’’
Focusing on movement patterns, core strengthening and mobility, Joseph believed in quality over quantity, noting that good technique and precision is key to creating good form and a strong, aligned, lean physique.
Today Pilates continues to progress, but the fundamental foundations of Joseph’s method still remain.
Pilates focuses on core strength and mobility, training the body correct alignment whilst working the whole body specifically the deep abdominals and back muscles. These muscle keep your center stable from which to move/train from and will support your physique across all activities.
Pilates is a full body workout, creating a long lean physique which is true to your own body shape. It will improve posture and alignment, tone, reduced stress, prevent injury, increase flexibility, improve mind-body awareness, strengthen muscles, improve balance, and much more. What’s not to like!
The benefits are so outstanding that Pilates is now known to enhance performance across all sports and protect the body during every day activity. It is why nowadays, so many athletes from footballers, horse riders, golfers, runners, tennis players, ballet dancers (etc) incorporate Pilates into their fitness repertoire.
Do You Need Equipment?
Although you can practice Pilates on machinery such as the Reformer, Cadillac, Chair or Barrel, a mat is actually all you need. Mat Pilates uses your own bodyweight for resistance and is ideal for learning and perfecting technique. Exercises on the mat can become more advanced as you progress keeping you continually challenged.
Practicing Pilates at home is a brilliant way to fit in a challenging quick workout – all you need is a mat and some space!
“In 10 Sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 sessions you will see the difference, in 30 you will have a whole new body.”
– Joseph Pilates
1. Half Roll Back
Start seated with knees bent, connect your pelvic floor and abdominals as you lengthen your spine into a c-curve (arched spine). You should feel your core connect. Roll back towards the mat, looking to lower the back of the pelvis onto the mat whilst maintaining the c- curve position. Draw your abdominals in and around you, as you hold for a breath before rolling back to your starting position.
2. Teaser 1
Lie on your back and connect your pelvic floor and abdominals. Stretch your arms over your head, bring your legs to tabletop position. Sequentially roll your head, neck and back off the floor and move into a V position. Hold this position and slowly roll back down as you exhale. Try this first with bent legs to make and build up to the full teaser position.
Lie on your front with your legs and arms extended. Engage your pelvic floor and abdominals. Keep a lengthened spine and lift your navel away from the floor to avoid compression of the lower back. Flutter the arms and legs alternately moving from the shoulder and hip joint, as though you are swimming.
4. Front Support Plank
Start in four point kneeling either on your elbows or with lengthened arms. Straighten one leg away from your torso and then the other so you are in a plank position. Have a small tuck of your lower back to connect your deep abdominals and pelvic floor and to avoid collapsing in your lower back. Stay in a alignment from your heels to your ears. The whole body is active as you feel connected and lifted away from the floor holding the position.