The health benefits of Pilates
The health benefits of Pilates
Pilates instructor and owner of Master Pilates, Ann Wilde explains the numerous health benefits of Pilates.
- It’s a full-body workout. If you’re trying to achieve a strong, toned, lean physique, as well as improve your flexibility and balance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need a complex fitness routine to target each different area. Pilates workouts can be tailored to focus on cardio fitness, strength conditioning, flexibility and balance, and can target a wide range of muscles with each exercise. “Pilates is a wonderful combination of stretch and strengthening around all the joints in your body, providing a stable and strong yet flexible body,” says Wilde. “The results are not only that your body is more toned and lean, but you’re also better placed to prevent future injuries. The original mat work system by Joseph Pilates was designed exactly to cover every single movement direction and pattern so that it’s a full body workout. The result of that workout is well known in the industry as a ‘Pilates high’! I have clients ranging from athletes to ballerinas who say they can’t live without their Pilates.”
- It requires little space. When it comes to Pilates, all you really need is a spot on the floor. The great thing about Pilates workouts is that they can be adapted to take advantage of ample room, or to work within small spaces. “Whilst Pilates in the studio with equipment is absolutely brilliant, it isn’t always possible,” says Wilde. “Fortunately, the mat work is equally as good and safe and is still an excellent workout – and all you need is somewhere to lie down.”
- Equipment is optional. Forget kettlebells and resistance bands – a kick-ass Pilates workout requires just you and your yoga mat. “Often the best and most effective results come from bodyweight, and the best example of this is a ballerina! They never need any extra equipment other than a ballet barre, yet they are able to tone and strengthen just as much as an AFL footballer,” says Wilde. “In Pilates exercises, a great example of this is the plank for your core and modified push-ups (knees down), which are incredible for toning arms.” To add variety, equipment like dumbbells, Pilates rings and straps can help you take your workout to the next level. “You can also pick up a mat and small Pilates equipment very easily at many department or sporting stores, so workouts can be varied from home with just a ball or TheraBand. This also means you can travel (when things return to normal) and easily take small equipment wherever you need.”
- Mindfulness is built in. Pilates workouts focus heavily on breathwork, precision and control, making it a wonderful exercise for mindfulness. “This is the beauty of Pilates. If you concentrate fully on the movement, muscle engagement and breath, you ARE being mindful,” says Wilde. “It’s like meditation without trying to meditate. It’s one of my favourite reasons of why I love Pilates.” Full inhalation and complete exhalation is key, with proper Pilates practice aiming to coordinate careful, steady breathing with precise, controlled movement. Pilates requires centring the mind on movement and breath, thereby shifting the focus from busy or anxious thoughts. “After a Pilates class, your body feels light and stretched and your mind feels calm.”
- Ideal antidote to long hours in the office. The absence of a proper, ergonomic office set-up means muscle pain and strain is more likely to occur. Pilates focuses on strengthening the core and aligning the spine, which helps to improve posture and balance, and alleviate tension and pressure that can accumulate with long days in the home-office. “Pilates is all about balance. Balancing your mind and body as well as balancing your own muscle imbalances,” says Wilde. “It will bring awareness to the areas that are weak or tight and once you discover this, your awareness and focus during and after Pilates is to try not to go back to those old patterns – like bad posture, for example. I’ve had clients say they hadn’t moved the rear vision mirror of their car for years but after the first class they moved it because all of a sudden they were sitting taller in their car. Once you get that feeling you never want to go back.”
Master Pilates has launched the Master Pilates Bubble – a series of online Pilates videos helping you stay connected and moving from the comfort of your own home. Designed to cater to your wellbeing needs during isolation and beyond, the 20-minute classes range from gentle to intermediate level and require limited or no equipment. You can learn more about The Bubble here.