Pilates is an awesome form of exercise, but there’s lots of confusion out there as to what exactly it is!
For whatever reason people seem to have mixed ideas of what Pilates is… from “Pilates is like stretching” to “Pilates is all about your core” and the best of all comes from blokes, who tell me that “Pilates is only for girls”.
If you type “Pilates definition” in Google you’ll get the following “a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness”. It may sound a little bit dry but it’s a relief that it’s a lot closer to the truth than all of the above.
Now let me clarify that although you can use different apparatus (such as the reformer or the cadillac) as per the above definition, you can also keep it equipment free by only using a mat and gravity to get a whole body workout.
Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, aimed to develop a form of exercise that would work and challenge the whole body as well as the mind. Joseph talks extensively about his strong belief on the importance of working both the body and mind. In his book “Your Health” he explains that “neither the mind nor the body is supreme… Both must be coordinated, in order not only to accomplish the maximum expenditure of mental and physical energy, but also to live as long as possible in normal health and enjoy the benefits of a useful and happy life”. That’s exactly what Pilates offers, a holistic mind and body workout – it’s not just about your core.
But why would one chose Pilates, you may ask. Well, when practiced regularly Pilates can increase and develop your flexibility, strength and stamina. Also, it will improve your balance, coordination, posture and alignment while having a low impact on your body. This makes Pilates a perfect complimentary form of exercise for any sport you may already be doing.
It’s because of these benefits that Pilates is becoming more and more popular with elite athletes, professional dancers and celebrities around the world. But what you still may be wandering is whether or not Pilates is only for women.I think this misconception might have come about as Pilates can at times look “easy” from far but trust me it is far from easy!
Pilates was designed by a man, Joseph Pilates , who was a self-defence instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard – that’s right! Joseph was even asked my German officials to teach his fitness method to their army – but he declined, as he didn't agree with their political views. Over the years it has become more popular with women but that does not mean it’s only for women. After all it was originally designed by a man and for men.
The great news is that more and more often I see males in class. I take that as a sign that guys are slowly overcoming their “Pilates taboo” and are realizing that Pilates offers a challenging workout regardless of gender!
I hope the above helped to set the record straight. But the best way to shed a light to your perception of Pilates is give it a go. It’s one thing to read about it and it’s a whole different thing to feel it in your body. Be sure to be patient, as Joseph said “In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”
Note: always advise your instructor of any injuries you may have.