Ask a body builder to reach his arm out to the sky and watch him struggle. He may be able to lift hundreds of pounds with his bare arms, but when it comes to something as simple as an upward stretch, he’s stuck. The problem with intense workouts such as weight lifting or running, is that even though building the muscles will help them get stronger and bigger, they will also start to get shorter and tighter, limiting the body’s range and breadth of movement.
A mind and body workout
Pilates is a full body workout that was developed to work our body from the stomach area, known as the core. Working from the fact that our entire body is interconnected, the exercises aim to create power and strength by working the inner muscles that connect your body together. The idea is that as you build up your inner strength, you also work at lengthening and stretching out your muscles to allow your body to be more flexible.
The power of the breath
One of the founding principles of Pilates is the power of the breath in helping carry out and control the movements. The breathing technique is to inhale through the nose and out through the mouth, engaging the core and carrying out the move as you exhale. The pressure you create is what will help you push your body into the position.
Who should be doing it and why
Pilates is good for everyone, whether you’re 10 or 70 years old, as it will strengthen the core, improve balance and coordination and decrease stress. It can be particularly good for pre- and post-pregnancy, people with tight muscles and men who usually focus more on muscle building. The core exercises will help pull the stomach muscles back in after giving birth and throughout the pregnancy and strengthen the pelvic muscles.
Men are often quoted as saying Pilates is “easy” but their muscles are often short and tight, making them inflexible. Alternating bodybuilding exercises with the workout will help them become more flexible and agile. The low impact is also perfect for those suffering from bad joints.