I read an article yesterday by the founder of BASI (Body Arts and Science International) that succinctly explained everything I believe Pilates to be and why I am such an advocate for this form of exercise.
This blog post is dedicated to that article. Many people don’t understand the profound benefits Pilates has on the body or why such a range of people can do it. In this blog post, hopefully those answers will be explained.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
Pilates develops many aspects of physical fitness: strength, flexibility, coordination, speed, agility and endurance. It heightens body awareness and enhances body control. it teaches correct muscle activation and corrects posture and alignment. It helps facilitate optimal function of the internal organs and improves balance and proprioception. Pilates also focus on breathing which offers a vehicle for concentration and focus. It promotes relaxation and the release of tension. Pilates keeps musculature and bone structure in an optimal state and can even help people develop more bone mass. Pilates also benefits pregnant women by providing a safe, effective, non-impact exercise activity. It serves as cross-training for athletic pursuits and daily activities. For those who want to look slimmer and more toned, Pilates provides evenly distributed body mass. And last but not least, Pilates provides a path to inner harmony through a finely tuned body.
Why are athletes and dancers drawn to trying Pilates?
Good question! the answer varies but most respondents selected two goals: to improve core strength and to tap into the benefits of mind-body connection and power. The great thing is that the core of The Pilates Method is based on these two principles. What most training regimens lack are these two key components and thankfully, Pilates is exceptionally effective in achieving these two goals.
How quickly will I notice the changes from doing Pilates?
I get it. We live in a society where we want to see results NOW. We want to see them as soon as we do something and if we don’t notice the results right away, then we don’t think it works. That’s just NOT true! Change takes time, commitment and discipline. If you dedicate yourself to regular Pilates sessions, three times a week for at least six weeks, some positive change is absolutely inevitable. If you take two lessons a week, you will still reap the benefits but they will take longer to appear. Doing a regime of Pilates only once a week is really scratching the surface. Do you see change when you only eat healthy once a week and pig out the other 6 days? No. So why should fitness be any different? Once a week will still produce changes, but it’s not going to happen fast. It will be a slower process, but worth it none the less if that is all you can commit to. It’s better then nothing! There are changes that happen can and do tend to happen immediately. These changes range from a more acute sense of body awareness, muscle activation, or alignment. However, change and adaptations of the neuromuscular system take time. For muscles to transform, and for transformation to be integrated into a person’s life, you need to be consistent. Consistent doesn’t mean doing Pilates for 6 weeks and expecting the changes to last forever. Being committed means sticking it out for the long haul–not just for days, weeks or months, but for years.
Here is a quoted story from Rael Iscowitz about a woman he worked with named Stella, age 76 who had severe scoliosis. This story is a perfect example of why I love Pilates.
“…Stella, who came to me at age 76 with severe scoliosis and an array of muscular and structural imbalances. The medical literature would say that changes could not be made to this woman’s alignment, posture, or even movement at this point in her life. In fact, it would probably say that without either surgery or facing during her preteen years, no significant changes in her physical alignment could have been achieved at any point in her life. But Stella worked with a commitment and dedication that I had seldom seen…Within the first few sessions, her awareness improved and she started recognizing the immense imbalances that had infiltrated her body. After 30 sessions she moved differently, her posture improved, her confidence was elevated–in fact, her whole life changed. She realized early on that these results were only the beginning; that remaining committed for the long haul–not for days, weeks or months, but for years–was imperative. And remain committed she did!
….Did she suddenly have a straight spine? Absolutely not! Such a change to the skeletal structure could not take place at her age. Yet her alignment, muscular control, and efficiency in movement did change. Her level of pain decreased dramatically and she began to enjoy her daily activities, especially her beloved gardening, relatively pain free.”