Pilates is one of those things that is largely misunderstood. A lot of people think it is something like yoga, and many more have no idea at all. Today, I had someone say, and I quote, “I just assume it’s some intense kickboxing yoga class.” I like that someone had the assumption that it is hard, but kickboxing it is not.
Pilates is a biomechanically-based strength training method. It can be done on a mat or on one of the many Pilates apparatus, like the Reformer. The Reformer was initially invented by Joe Pilates to assist wounded soldiers in doing the mat exercises. Now they are used not only to assist, but also to add resistance training. Changing the weight of the springs can transform the same exercise from assistive to extremely challenging.
Pilates is FUNCTIONAL
The goal of Pilates is ultimately physical fitness. This does not end with toned muscles and a healthy weight, but is realized when you bring Pilates into your daily life – whether it is simply getting out of your car or reaching something heavy off of a shelf, or whether it is climbing that taller mountain or skiing that steeper slope. Pilates retrains your body to function in the way it was intended so that it can perform better and longer. I like to think of it as a guidebook to body mechanics.
Pilates is ATHLETIC
Contrary to popular belief, Pilates can be an invigorating, sweat-inducing, exhausting workout. It is true that it is easier on your joints – this is not due to lack of intensity, but the maintenance of healthy biomechanics. Also, the use of Pilates apparatus such as the Reformer allow the addition of tension springs (up to 200 pounds!) to either assist or intensify an exercise.
The reality is that most studios find the need to create only easy to moderate level classes so that they can allow walk-ins and cater to a broader population, which is why taking private lessons is the best and fastest way to reach your goals. Pilates is very popular in the physical therapy world because of its reliance on good body mechanics and its ability to be adjusted to your needs, so a large portion of Pilates group classes comes from this background.
Lesser known is Pilates’s growing popularity among professional athletes as a necessary cross-training technique. Male and female athletes are using it. Entire NFL and NBA teams require it. Check out this video of Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers doing a pilates reformer workout and tell me this isn’t for dudes! Cross-training is vital to competitive success, and Pilates can be an important part of an athlete’s regimen. Check out these 10 Olympic Athletes who cross-train with Pilates.
This would make Joe Pilates a very happy man. Joe created Pilates, which he called “Contrology,” in his journey toward becoming an “ideal man,” and envisioned it taught to everyone, including as a part of military training. Click here to read more about Joe’s vision.
While Pilates is largely focused on core control and resistance training, it can also incorporate cardio into a routine. Some studios offer short jumpboard classes as a separate cardio workout, and some incorporate it into group classes. It can be difficult to find a truly cardiovascular Pilates class because it requires intermediate to advanced level students.
Since Pronghorn Pilates offers workouts customized for your needs and goals, I can give you as much cardio as will benefit you. If you have sufficient core control and can maintain a neutral pelvis (we can talk about that later), we can do cardio for a full hour. I have done it before, and it’s a killer workout.
Pilates is FOCUS and AWARENESS
The term mind-body is used frequently in association with Pilates workouts. This does not indicate a spirituality as you might find in a yoga class, but instead refers to the focus and awareness that are so important for a successful workout. Concentration is important to increase your body awareness, or proprioception, and coordination. Pilates works to strengthen this ability through deliberate movement. It is this ability that will ultimately enable you to bring Pilates into the rest of your life.
Some actors use it to focus their minds before going on stage or before a camera. Military bases include pilates as part of their fitness programs to help ready soldiers physically and mentally for combat.
Pilates is SCIENTIFIC
Pronghorn Pilates is constantly incorporating new findings about health and biomechanics. I was trained by an incredibly talented Balanced Body faculty member with 40 years physical therapy experience. I continue to train and discuss new findings with her and other Pilates and movement colleagues.
In each session with me, you will learn about the biomechanics and relevant processes of your body, slowly putting together each piece of the machine.
Pilates is EFFICIENT
Just like the Pronghorn, Pilates enlists small, deeper muscles to achieve biomechanical efficiency and mobility. Most injuries are to these often-ignored smaller muscles like the rotator cuffs and adductor longus, rather than the large, superficial muscles like our biceps, quads and traps. This does not mean we ignore those outer muscles, but that we strengthen the smaller muscles to support the outer muscles going even further.
Pilates is a whole body workout designed specifically to get your body moving as an integrated whole.