It’s the exercise of choice for celebrities and sports stars like Adele, J Lo and David Beckham. But there’s no reason why Pilates can’t be your new go-to exercise too. It’s a great way to workout at home and you don’t have to be super fit or super flexible to get started.
Let me share with you how it can help you feel stronger, more flexible and full of joy.
What is it?
Pilates is a total body workout. It is a series of low-impact exercises designed to improve strength and flexibility, creating a balanced body that is both structurally and functionally sound. It’s been around since the 1920s when Joseph Pilates shared with the world his unique approach to fitness from his New York studio.
Each exercise requires you to move with care and precision as you engage your core muscles in combination with a controlled breathing pattern. It is this mindful approach to movement that will also help you develop a greater mind-body connection and boost your wellbeing.
The two most common types of Pilates are:
- Mat Pilates — exercises are performed on a mat. It’s ideal for learning at home as a beginner.
- Reformer Pilates — exercises are performed on a reformer, a large piece of equipment with a flat platform that can slide back and forth with an adjustable bar. Due to the equipment required it’s usually performed in a studio.
Who is Pilates suitable for?
In short, Pilates is suitable for everyone. It’s recommended by physiotherapists as a rehabilitation tool for many injuries and conditions eg back pain, hip / knee problems, arthritis and osteoporosis.
It also great for:
- Pregnancy — to reduce back pain
- Sport — to improve performance and help prevent injury
- Older adults — to maintain strength and stability and avoid falls
What are the benefits of Pilates?
There are numerous health benefits of Pilates that you will experience when you practice it consistently.
The main benefits are:
- Stronger core and better posture — by using the core muscles to stabilise the spine and focusing on correct alignment of the body for each exercise you will improve the way you sit, stand and move.
- Improved pelvic floor — engaging your pelvic floor muscles with every exercise you will combat the weaknesses exposed through pregnancy, childbirth, the menopause, lack of exercise and being overweight.
- Increased flexibility — moving each part of the body through healthy ranges of movement flexibility is increased.
- Heightened sense of wellbeing — releasing endorphins in your body you will boost your mood and reduce feelings of tension, anxiety and depression.
- Fight the signs of ageing — whilst Pilates alone won’t halt the signs of ageing, it will help preserve many of the factors that keep you looking and, maybe more importantly, feeling youthful.
Can you perform Pilates at home as a beginner?
Yes! Mat Pilates requires minimal space and equipment and there are different types of online Pilates class to choose from so you can be assured there will be something to suit you. If you’re brand new to Pilates I’d suggest a live and interactive Zoom class or even a one-to-one Pilates session to begin with so that you can master the basics with the dedicated support of a teacher.
How to get started
In a few simple steps you can start your journey with Pilates:
- Put on some leggings and a T-shirt. Keep your socks on to keep you warm.
- Grab a mat and a small towel (to use under your head).
- Find a quiet and warm room with enough space for you to lie down and spread your arms out either side or you.
- Set up your phone / tablet / laptop somewhere you can see and hear it easily while you exercise.
- Load your workout video, access your live stream or join your Zoom class — then get moving and start to feel the restorative benefits of Pilates.