Pilates is an exercise program designed by Joseph Pilates (he is of Greek-German origin and is a physical culturist). It is an amalgamation of calisthenics, yoga and ballet dancing. It is popular mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The reason why Pilates came to existence is quite intriguing. Joseph worked as a self-defence instructor for detectives in Scotland Yard in 1912. At the outbreak of World War I, Joseph was imprisoned as an enemy alien along with the other Germans. During his confinement, he developed his ideas and trained other prisoners in his newly formed mode of exercise. He equipped hospital beds with springs so that bedridden patients could exercise against resistance, a discovery that led to the development of new designs for equipment. Incidentally an influenza epidemic that had struck England in 1918 had killed thousands but Joseph’s learners, thereby instilling a deep faith in the efficacy of his technique. After finishing his sentence term, Joseph gained popularity in the dance community as well. Many of his exercise steps have been inculcated into modern dance forms. But when the German Army asked Joseph to teach his form of exercise to the army men, he left Germany and relocated to the United States.
In New York, along with his wife, he opened a fitness studio. Soon the fame of the studio spread outside New York. Two of Joseph’s students, Carola and Bob, opened their own studios and later on several students of Carola and Bob opened their own studios. Many Hollywood stars were attracted to this innovative form of exercise. So, wherever the stars went the media followed and thus, Pilates started reaching new heights of prominence.
1. Pilates improves posture
Most of the aches in our body, such as neck ache, back ache, and even headache, result from bad posture. When the body alignment is not correct, excess pressure is exerted on the no-go areas. The benefits of a healthy posture is not limited to body pain reduction; in fact, a healthy posture helps in reducing injury of sensitive areas such as knees and elbows. Moreover a better body alignment leads to a leaner and confident body frame.
2. Pilates enhance flexibility
During static stretching, attention is not paid to movements; but in Pilates emphasis is laid on movements during stretching so that the muscles are warmed up, allowing an individual to stretch better with ease and with lower probability of injuries. In fact, muscle tension decreases with the increase in flexibility. Further, the blood circulation of body is improved.
3. Pilates boosts up stamina
Since retention of a position for a limited duration of time is followed in Pilates, endurance of the muscles is perked up.
4. Pilates increases muscle power
Unlike weight lifting, Pilates does not bulk up a particular part of the body. It targets well at the lower abdominal obliques, a group of muscles present on the side of the stomach which are very difficult to exercise. It also strengthens the core muscles of the body.
5. A fine looking body is gained by doing Pilates
With a tucked-in tummy, straight back, and toned muscles you are bound to look leaner, taller and fitter.
6. Stress reduction with Pilates
Pilates focusses on the breathing patterns and calms both the mind and the body. Practicing Pilates can help fight sleep-deprivation and thus, it can offer relief to those who are accustomed to sleeping pills.
Are you an athlete?If yes, then Pilates will surely benefit you, whatever the sport maybe. Needless to say that Pilates is a refreshing body and mind workout, which is why it helps athletes become more aware of their body’s specific needs. Namely, there are three benefits of Pilates for athletes.
- Pilates elongates the muscles and as a result increases their flexibility. Short, stodgy muscles are prone to injuries. Performing the stretching exercises of Pilates will lead to the development of lean and long muscles which not only help in increasing the speed, strength and rejuvenation, but also help in long term fat loss. In fact the tendon, ligament and bone strengths are also improved.
- Pilates strengthens the core of the body. A strong core is mandatory for balance and stability. Concentration being something of vital importance for athletes, the exercises which deal with balance and stability are imperative. A strong and flexible core reduces the wearing effect on the spine and helps in maintaining a good posture. Having a strong core will enhance the performance and allow a sportsperson to enjoy his profession.
POPULARITY OF PILATES
Pilates is gaining recognition among fitness enthusiasts, rehab practitioners and those who want an effective workout for both the body and the mind. List of Hollywood stars who practice Pilates is quite lengthy; stars like Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Mandy Moore, Jennifer Anniston, Megan Fox, Sandra Bullock, Hilary Duff and many more have adopted the activity. You will be surprised to know that even pregnant women take to Pilates.
The fact that it is good for pregnant woman can be an incentive for Indian women to try out Pilates. The body type of most Indian women is such that they tend to bloat up and accumulate stubborn fat when they are carrying a baby. After the child’s birth it becomes difficult to regain the previous body shape. As Pilates help in strengthening the core of the body, loosing unwanted fat and toning the body becomes easier.
FUTURE OF PILATES IN INDIA
Pilates seems to have a very promising future. It is already quite famous abroad and once people start learning its benefits, it is bound to become popular here as well. Pilates does not require one to bend their body into various awkward shapes nor does it require the lifting of heavy weights. It is a simple exercise program assuring to workout every muscle in the body. The best part is that it can be done by anyone of any age.