Who doesn’t want a stronger core? Pilates is a core-centric, low-impact workout that’s often confused with yoga. This form of mind-body exercise uses thoughtful, controlled exercises to strengthen and stabilize your core while providing other incredible health benefits.
We’ll Have Pilates And So Much More At Our Fitness Festival!
In today’s blog post, we’re writing about the basics of Pilates because we will be offering Pilates classes and activities at the first annual Fort Collins Fitness Festival. This will be one of the best Fort Collins outdoor activities in the history of our beautiful Colorado city, and we think that the active competition events combined with vendors and a great active community will make for an incredible day. Be a part of history and view early ticket information here.
An Overview Of Pilates
As a core-based form of exercise, the main goal of Pilates is to teach the muscles of your core to be like the trunk of a giant tree – while your limbs (branches) or are moving around, your middle (trunk) stays completely anchored. This is done by using your “powerhouse”, or a combination of muscles that make up your core going from the bottom of the ribs to the top of the hips.
While Pilates teaches you to use your entire powerhouse, it specifically focuses on a very unique muscle called the “transverse abdominus” which sits right below your belly button. This is the muscle that acts as a weight belt around the middle of your body by keeping your belly flat, keeping you tight and making sure that your core is stable. The essence of Pilates is to learn how to use your breathing to control this muscle and activate the use of your core in all circumstances.
An Intentional Exercise
While you can probably hop on an elliptical or a treadmill and carry on a casual conversation with a friend, Pilates is different. Pilates is considered to be a ‘mind-body’ experience where intense control and specific movements are required. So, it’s very difficult to get an effective Pilates experience when you’re distracted. Indeed, if you’re practicing Pilates properly and using your breathing techniques in a way that Pilates utilizes, you’ll be completely focused on the exercise and just about nothing else.
Think of Pilates as somewhat similar to meditation, or at least a meditation-like exercise that requires dedicated levels of intention. As such, Pilates can be a rather exhausting but exhilarating and rewarding experience.
As you can imagine, the benefits of Pilates and other mind-body exercises are practically endless. By conditioning your breathing muscles and your core as well as coordinating your body, mind and spirit, you should be able to obtain the following from a dedicated Pilates regimen.
- A strengthened core
- Strengthened upper and lower body muscles without any impact
- Injury prevention
- The ability to create long, lean muscles
- Significantly enhanced flexibility
- Increased mind-body awareness
- Improved posture and alignment
- Reduced levels of stress
The Do’s Of Pilates
While it’s intimidating to start anything that’s new, it helps to have some instruction and knowing where to start. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find a certified and qualified instructor to help you navigate the rudimentals of Pilates. The learning curve in Pilates is fairly big, and proper technique is necessary to be successful in the big picture. Simply let an instructor know that you’re new and the rest should fall into place.
Again, the basics are incredibly important. Mastering Pilates fundamentals before you advance onto engaging your deeper muscles is important no matter what your fitness level is. Regardless of your athletic background, be prepared to humble yourself and learn as a beginner.
The Don’ts Of Pilates
For one, don’t show up to class on a full stomach. Given all of the intense breathing and pulling in through your core, the last thing that you’ll want to is get stomach cramps during your Pilates session, or even worse (yes, it’s not unheard of for people to vomit if they’re on a full stomach).
Also, don’t confuse a Pilates session with a cardio session. Be patient and bear in mind that the first few sessions you do might not have you leaving drenched in sweat and feeling physically exhausted. As you progress, things will get more difficult, but don’t think about Pilates as a substitute for a cardiovascular workout.
Lastly, don’t wear anything that’s oversized like a t-shirt or sweats – Pilates is best done in fitted or gently fitted clothing, like athletic tights, spandex, and so forth. It might sound a little strange, but your curves need to be seen in order for you and your instructor to see if you’re doing the moves properly.
Get Your Pilates On At Our Local Fitness Event!
Pilates classes will only be part of what we’re offering at the first annual Fort Collins Fitness Festival, as we’ll have plenty of active competition, food, games, fun, and of course, a fitness celebration! Learn more about this active Colorado event here.