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If you're looking to add more activity and mobility to your days, here are 7 reasons you should consider starting Pilates. (And no, getting abs like Kate Hudson is not one of the reasons. Though... it could be!)
1. STRENGTHEN YOUR "POWERHOUSE"
Pilates trains your core (or, in Pilates speak, your "powerhouse"), unlike any other workout. In fact, after completing 36 weeks of Pilates training, women strengthened their rectus abdominis (the muscle responsible for six-packs) by an average of 21 percent, while eliminating muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of their cores, according to a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study. A stronger core leads to better posture, a leaner looking stomach, and reduced back pain.
2. REDUCE BACK PAIN
A strong core equals a strong back. That's why those with chronic lower back pain who practiced Pilates for just four weeks experienced more relief than those who visited a physician and other specialists, says a Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy study. What's more, their pain stayed away for a full year post-Pilates. Researchers believe that by stabilizing the core's lumbar-pelvic (lower-back) region, Pilates alleviates stress on the area thereby reducing back pain.
3. GO EASY ON YOUR JOINTS
Pilates' slow and controlled movements puts minimal impact on your joints. It's a perfect cross-training workout to balance a higher impact workout like running. Plus, if you're using the Pilates reformer like we do at Club Pilates: The padding on a Pilates reformer is as thick as 10 yoga mats! It takes the pressure off of your back and knees
4. IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS
Pilates trains you to focus on 1) your breath, 2) your body, and 3) how they move together. It requires concentration. Your brain can't wander to things like work, bills, boyfriends, and other drama for a full hour!
5. DOMINATE YOUR SPORT
When you start training your core, you realize that all muscles are connected through your core. You physically cannot do correct lunges without strong abdominals. Lunges without a strong core end up executed with a forward fold or lean. "You'll crumble over," says Club Pilates Founder, Allison Beardsley. "With a strong core, you can run faster, your yoga is on point, and overall, your performance in any sport improves," she says. Plus, by working in small groups or one-on-one with a Pilates instructor, you can learn moves that mimic and improve performance in your sport of choice.
6. INCREASE FLEXIBILITY
"I always hear people saying, 'I've never been flexible, I can't do Pilates.' But that's why they should be doing it," Beardsley says. In one Brazilian study, when young women (without any prior Pilates experience) performed 20 Pilates sessions, they became 19.1 percent more flexible. When you're tight, you shorten your muscle and limit your body's range of motion, she says. At best, that can hurt your exercise performance. At worst, it can cause injury.
7. BOOST BRAINPOWER
Joseph Pilates called his workout method "the thinking man's exercise." It could very well be. When Chinese researchers measured changes in women's brain activity after 10 weeks of Pilates training, they found an increase in the brain's alpha peak power, which is related to neural network activity, memory performance, and other cognitive functions. Researchers believe Pilates may even hold potential as a treatment option for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions. We feel smarter already!
Whatever reason you resonate with, there has truly never been a better time to get started with Pilates!
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