Pilates: The Basics

Develop Balanced Muscles, Improve Your Posture And Strengthen Your Body Without Bulking Up

By PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Team
Pilates is fast becoming the ‘in’ way to get fit.  Often referred to as a combination of ballet, strength training and yoga, Pilates is one of the best workouts out there  to get your pre-pregnancy belly back in shape.  Discover if Pilates might be the perfect way to mix up your fitness routine.

What is Pilates?
Pilates is a fitness system, developed by Joseph Pilates, with more than 500 different exercises that focus on building muscular strength while increasing flexibility.  Pilates emphasizes building stability and muscle strength in the body's core, which includes muscles of the abdomen, back, pelvis and hips.

Most Pilates exercises are done on the floor but several instructors use specialized fitness machines. During a pilates session, you will do sets of exercises in a sequence designed to maximize muscle-strengthening benefits. The Pilates system also stresses the use of deep breathing techniques, which facilitates healthy tissue oxygenation and relieves muscle tension and imbalances.

What are the benefits of Pilates?
Creating sleek, long muscles and strengthening the body without adding bulk are the goals of the Pilates system. Equally important, pilates is a workout that addresses imbalances in the musculoskeletal system.

According to the International Fitness Professionals Association, where “imbalance exists between agonist-antagonist muscle groups, joint instability, muscular dysfunction, muscle weakness, and increased risk of musculoskeletal, pain and injury may result.”  It's rare for an individual to have perfectly symmetrical muscle development and Pilates helps to develop balance.   Because Pilates builds lean muscle it is also a great way to jump-start a weight loss program, as more lean muscle means a faster metabolism, and a higher amount of fat burned. 

How do you get started?
Look for a certified Pilates tinstructors to help you design an exercise routine and to demonstrate proper Pilates form. If you can't find a studio or gym near you, you can also check out DVDs or online videos developed by certified instructors. By learning correct form you will get the most benefit from your exercise routine, and reduce the likelihood of injury.
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