The Power of Pilates
PUBLISHED: 15:34 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 20 February 2013
'If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young.' So said Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), one of the first people to recognise the link between the mind and the body. The aim of h...
As all movements are controlled and low-impact there is little stress placed on the body, making Pilates a great exercise for older people as well as the young. Both young and maturing bodies need a strong foundation to cope with the effects of the mostly one-sided physical activities of living, which creates distorted muscular development. Much everyday movement is very one-sided - think of using a mouse on a computer, all racket sports, doing the vacuuming, even carrying children. Additionally, stress can cause muscles to tighten; we're all familiar with the knots in the neck, shoulders and back.
Attend a Pilates class and you will notice great physical and mental benefits. Pilates is beneficial for general fitness, specific health conditions and most of all for your overall wellbeing. Pilates alleviates aches and pains, develops the function and efficiency of the lungs, improves circulation, helps prevent injury, aids physical rehabilitation and improves coordination. By attending weekly classes low back pain can be reduced and in some cases completely eliminated. Pilates has been shown to be a safe and beneficial form of exercise for many medical conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, high blood pressure, pelvic floor issues, declining mobility and loss of balance.
Physiotherapists, osteopaths and doctors are increasingly recommending the holistic approach of Pilates as one of the safest forms of exercise today.
Pilates is a series of gentle and progressive exercises, which focus on strengthening the core muscles that support the spine. There is a major emphasis on re-educating the body to break the habits created through lack of awareness of movement. Synchronising breathing with movement improves coordination and facilitates the relaxation process. The experience leaves you with a better understanding of your body.
Today Pilates is practised by more than 12 million people worldwide. The best way to get started in Pilates is to join a beginner's class with a qualified Pilates teacher. Classes are held in most towns in specialist studios or sports centres and village halls. It is recommended that you only train with a fully qualified teacher who is a member of a recognised Pilates training association. Pilates training takes years and is an ongoing process with committed teachers continuing their studies to bring about further benefits.
Pilates is not just another exercise system. Pilates' principles and fundamentals carry over into everyday life and other sporting activities, and they will improve your quality of movement and wellbeing. It is never too late to start Pilates. Pilates is suitable for everyone, from teens right up to those in their nineties, from couch potatoes to elite athletes. Best of all, because it gives you such a wonderful sense of wellbeing, you'll want to do Pilates for the rest of your life. BY LIZ CHANDLER
Liz Chandler is a qualified Pilates teacher of the Pilates Foundation and Body Control Pilates. She runs classes at Pure Moves www.puremoves.com, Wesley Lower School, Frome, BA11 3AE, tel 01373 466464. She has also produced a Pilates DVD www.realpeoplepilates.co.uk for people over 50. To find a Pilates teacher in your area, visit www.pilatesfoundation.com or www.bodycontrolpilates.com.