In order to commit to an exercise routine, we have to find something that we enjoy. Sweating profusely through a spin class isn’t for everyone! As women, as we move through different stages in the lifespan, our bodies also have different needs. One of the best things about Pilates is that it is a practice that works for all body types and offers a strong workout without it always feeling like a workout! Pilates is an incredibly enjoyable practice and for many people, once they try it once, they are hooked! Pilates also offers fast results that are both seen and felt in the body. If you’re looking for a way to support your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing, you may find that Pilates is your go-to practice this year and beyond.
Pilates was created in 1920 by Joseph Pilates who was an anatomist. Pilates is a physical system that uses very specific targeted exercises in a focused and disciplined way to transform the physical body and create peace and space in the mind. The main goal of Pilates is to strengthen the core, improve posture, stabilize and elongate the spine and develop balance and overall strength. With its focused approach, Pilates has been heralded as having the power to completely transform your body and aside from sporting a new set of abs, Pilates has been proven to lower back pain, improve mobility, strengthen pelvic floor muscles, increase flexibility, reduce anxiety, balance hormones and improve balance and mindfulness.
Find a Greater Level of Strength
While we don’t all strive to have the physique of a bodybuilder, strength training can often be overlooked by women and superseded by cardio training. However, strength training is essential for overall wellbeing and especially as we move through the lifespan. Strength training exercises work to build muscle mass and preserve bone density. Pilates is a wonderful way to work on building strength in a safe and supportive manner (no barbells needed!) Pilates doesn’t build muscles in the same way a weights program at the gym does. Instead, it builds long, lean, toned muscles that work within the context of your body as a whole. Pilates exercises strengthen the weaker muscles and give your more dominant muscles a break by asking you work symmetrically. Focusing on precision and control also means that you get the most out of your workout. Building whole-body strength makes everything you do in daily life that much easier and maintains the fitness needs that you require as you move through life.
Find a Greater Level of Flexibility
Many people tend to equate flexibility with yoga, however, Pilates is also a powerful practice to work on your flexibility, again, in a manner that is supportive and focused. Don’t expect to break out into any full splits in a Pilates session! Pilates works toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and the range of motion within the joints. Like building strength, Pilates creates practical flexibility- it aims to work your body in a way that allows it to stretch and bend to meet the flow of daily life. The combination of strengthening and stretching is the perfect way to ease tight muscles and create a more limber and subtle body in a natural way. Pilates is perfect for all levels and is certainly not only designed for those who already have a greater degree of natural flexibility. Studies have shown that just 20 Pilates sessions can result in a 20% increase in flexibility.
Improve Your Core
Chances are if you know only one thing about Pilates, it is related to the core. And for good reason! The core is a key element in all Pilates theory and practice. The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement. When the core is strong, the body is supported. Pilates movements focus on maintaining proper alignment and challenge your stability to stay balanced, which requires you to engage your midsection. Even actions that are more focused on other areas of the body still require a conscious core. The core work that is practiced in the Pilates studio is ideally then practiced in your daily movements and actions- a well-working core equates to a strong, relaxed and well functioning body. Studies have shown that just 12 weeks of a Pilates routine, results in improved core strength.
Support Your Posture
In this day and age, with so much time spent sitting at computers, with our head down looking at our phone, and a more sedentary lifestyle in general, never before has it been so essential to maintain a good posture. A strong core goes a long way towards a good postural alignment. As we looked at above, Pilates encourages you to utilise your core muscles, and also focus on proper alignment in all areas of the body. A good posture is physically appealing, yet it also offers you a safe and steady base to move through life. Having poor alignment day in and day out can easily contribute to a host of body pain and issues that usually require ongoing help from a trained practitioner. A good posture will carry you through life- it sets you up for greater ease and grace in daily movements, as well as supporting your body as it ages. As well as inspiring a good posture, Pilates can also help to reduce issues that have stemmed from less than ideal posture- it can help to reduce back and neck pain, ease tension in the body and prevent further injury.
Support Mindfulness & Mental Health
Joseph Pilates believed that Pilates was the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Every single Pilates exercise is done with total attention and awareness; the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each movement and exercise. In this way, Pilates is similar to yoga, which promotes consciousness and mindfulness which in turn, helps to support our mental wellbeing. Pilates in many ways utilises physical activity as a way to restore and maintain harmony in body, mind and spirit. Slow focused movements, attention on the breath, the calm and tranquil surroundings and the concentration of the mind on the present moment is a powerful way to increase awareness and allow you to let go of outer distractions. This clearing out of the mind does wonders for our stress levels and overall mood levels. Again, Pilates inspires this awareness to move beyond the practice and into daily life.
Gain Greater Energy Levels
Greater energy levels is something we all tend to be striving towards these days! Luckily, Pilates is a practice that offers you more energy, rather than depletes your energy. While a gym session or other training program can leave you feeling exhausted and even sometimes too sore to train the next day, Pilates works with the concept of mindful exertion. It will work you hard, without being in any way debilitating. Pilates also works with the breath and keeps circulation moving in the body. It stimulates the spine and muscles and floods the body with endorphins – the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Pilates is the perfect pick-me-up for when you want a workout without it feeling overly strenuous and taxing. Pilates can be practiced at any time- even if you’re not usually a morning person Pilates can be an empowering way to start your day. Furthermore, if you often feel too worn out to work out at the end of the day, Pilates can be the perfect anecdote.
Reduce & Manage Stress
In a world that is often overshadowed with stress, more and more we are turning to both exercise and mindfulness practices to find stillness, peace and relief. Pilates has been shown to help relieve anxiety and depression, assist insomnia, manage chronic pain, boost mood, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress levels. Just like meditation, Pilates allows you to concentrate your attention on one thing – your body movements- and requires you to clear your mind of any distractions. Pilates also works to relieve tension built up in the muscles through gentle stretching and gradual conditioning. Many of us have stress and tension trapped within our body without even knowing it. When you move stress out of your body, you also help to move it out of your mind. Just like yoga, Pilates has also been shown to help you feel more grounded, balanced and in control. Finding a practice that can help us to reduce stress is a highly beneficial way to support our holistic wellbeing.
If you feel like you would like to experience any (or all!) of the above points, join us for a Bali Pilates Retreat. This new offering combines a range of semi-private Reformer, mat and barre Pilates sessions to allow you to experience the full range of benefits that Pilates offers. All classes in our Bali Pilates Retreat are offered in a luxurious, air-conditioned reformer studio with state of the art equipment. Our trainer on the Pilates retreat is a senior instructor who is passionate about introducing women to the practice and benefits that Pilates offers. The retreat program also includes yoga classes, spa treatments, delicious healthy meals, cultural activities, sightseeing adventures and plenty of spare time to simply enjoy the beauty and magic of Bali.
For more information visit our Pilates retreat page here, or simply contact us for more information.