In today’s fast-paced world, staying healthy and maintaining a strong mind-body connection is more important than ever. If you are one of the millions of people who want to like yoga but just can’t seem to get into it, we highly recommend you delve into Pilates. Developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I, this low-impact fitness method was originally called Contrology, which he described as “the comprehensive integration of body, mind, and spirit.” In other words, Pilates has the mind-body connection (focus) that yoga offers but with a faster rhythm— and we think longer-lasting results. Just touch the abs of a devotee and you’ll see what we mean! 

How Pilates Began 

During the war, Joseph Pilates began rehabilitating soldiers suffering from injuries. Because he was working in an internment camp he had to use whatever equipment was available, such as springs and beer keg rings to create resistance exercise equipment. These inspired the equipment we see in fitness studios today, such as the cadillac (looks like a hospital bed, right?), the ubiquitous reformer and the magic circle. 

Understanding Pilates

Core this. Core that. Seems like every exercise guru touts core strength. But with Pilates, we’re talking about strengthening your inner core, the muscles below the surface that keep us limber and strong.  It is a versatile discipline that can be customized to suit all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners, making it a life-long comprehensive system for improving one’s physical and mental wellbeing.

The Benefits of Pilates

  • Core and INNER Core Strength: We will say it again. A strong core is the foundation of a healthy body. Pilates places significant emphasis on core strength, helping to improve posture and reduce the risk of back pain.
  • Flexibility: These exercises emphasize stretching and lengthening, which can help increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension. It’s easy to spot a Pilates body…long, lithe, strong and limber. 
  • Balance and Coordination: By incorporating controlled movements and breathing techniques, Pilates enhances balance and coordination, which can be particularly beneficial for older adults.
  • Posture: It helps to develop awareness of body alignment, leading to better posture. This can alleviate common issues caused by poor posture, such as neck and back pain.
  • Mental Clarity: The mind-body connection in Pilates promotes relaxation, stress reduction and improved mental clarity. Breathing exercises also help increase mindfulness and reduce anxiety.
  • Full-Body Workout: These exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing an efficient full-body workout.
  • Injury Prevention: Many professional athletes and physical therapists use these techniques to prevent and rehabilitate injuries. The controlled, low-impact movements are gentle on the joints.

Classical Versus Contemporary 

The Classical method follows Joseph Pilates’ teachings while Contemporary teaches a combination of Classical along with other influences, such as physical therapy and yoga. Aficionados and dancers swear by the Classical method and Classical Pilates teachers are trained by a select group who studied with followers of Joseph Pilates.

While private or “duo” sessions are recommended for beginners, today we see a lot of Mat Pilates and Reformer Machine classes.  Mat is a versatile and cost-effective form that requires only a mat or a soft surface. It’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a simple yet effective workout that can be done almost anywhere.

Reformer Machine Pilates, on the other hand, utilizes specialized equipment known as a reformer. This machine provides adjustable resistance using springs and pulleys, offering a wider range of exercises and intensity levels. However, in large group classes, you may not get the individual attention you need. 

Try Out a Class with a WaySpa Gift Card

Pilates is not just an exercise routine; it’s a holistic approach to wellness that can benefit people of all ages and fitness levels. There are different levels to try out from prenatal Pilates to classes with weights so it’s easily adjustable and flexible. 

Try out a class using your new WaySpa Gift Card and see if this is a fitness obsession that could change your body and your life forever.