Pilates: The new fitness trend

People are getting more and more fitness conscious these days. Apart from the surge in number of gyms and fitness centers, we are also having an easy access to innumerable ways of staying fit. Gone are the days when walking and yoga had been the only known forms of exercise. The major factor behind emerging new trends in fitness world is that people are now looking for ways to have fun while shedding those extra kilos. And that is the reason why we are inventing and adopting interesting ways of maintaining fitness. Pilates is one such new fitness mantra that is creating ripples among fitness fanatics along with some other new styles like kettlebells, power yoga, zumba etc. Pilates is named after its discoverer Joseph.H.Pilates. As a child Joseph was very weak and suffering from asthma. He practiced different kinds of sports to strengthen his body and became an accomplished athlete. In Great Britain during World War he served as a nurse and designed Pilates for immobilized patients and soldiers. Since then Pilates has been practiced by people all over this world, to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. It has been quite popular in the west among dancers, gymnasts and Hollywood actors like Madonna and Oprah and now it is setting its foot in India too.

Pilates involves controlled movements that tone and strengthen your muscles. It improves your posture and flexibility and you are less prone to injury if you practice it consistently. There are two ways you can do Pilates exercises. The first method is by using simple exercise mats. Other method involves using exercise equipments like allegro beds, Pilates chair etc. As the equipments are quite expensive people generally go for the first method especially when it comes to exercising at home.

Pilates might seem similar to yoga, but it quite different from yoga. Pilates can be done using equipments which is not the case in yoga. Yoga involves different postures that harmonize mind, body and spirit with more emphasis given to the relaxation of mind. Pilates however focuses more on the body than mind strengthening abdominal muscles, improving posture and making the body lean and longer. Both Yoga and Pilates are equally valuable though. While choosing one among the two we must first consider our needs and then choose the one that fulfills those needs.

One of the advantages of Pilates over other forms of exercises is that it is mild and does not impose much stress on the body so it can be tried by anyone. The exercises are highly beneficial for those suffering from back pain. Being gentle on the back it relieves pain without aggravating the condition. Pilates is also good for sportsmen. Strong muscles can tear if they lack flexibility causing injury during sports. By increasing flexibility, Pilates prevent that from happening during long hours of practice. It is also good for overweight and elderly people. Everyone can incorporate Pilates in their fitness regimen as it is quite simple to learn. If you are still wondering whether to try Pilates or not then read the health benefits of Pilates given below–

  1. Pilates exercises build strong muscles but do not add any undesirable mass to them. This keeps the body strong yet lean.
  2. These exercises focus on the body as a whole instead of concentrating on one particular part. They tone up the whole body
  3. Pilates improves your posture, balance and coordination
  4. It increases circulation and stimulates your spine thereby making you feel more energetic.
  5. It relaxes the mind leaving you calm and serene. You feel more focused with improved level of concentration.

With growing popularity of Pilates there are several fitness centers that offer Pilates classes. You would have an instructor who can help you out and suggest the appropriate exercises suiting your needs. But before joining these classes don’t forget to ensure that the instructor is a certified fitness instructor in Pilates. Also visit your doctor to find out whether you are fit enough to do Pilates. Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to stretch your body. Perform the exercises in slow and smooth manner. It should flow like a dance and the movements should not be jerky and quick. There are also several books and videos available online and in the market that would help you learn more about Pilates. You can do these exercises at home but in the beginning it is advisable to do it under the guidance of an instructor. Once you learn from instructor you can start practicing at home.

Different kinds of exercise boost our health in different ways. This is the reason why fitness experts often advice us to incorporate different forms of exercise in our fitness regimen. If you are lacking motivation to exercise and are bored of your current exercise routine then it’s time to make your fitness plan more interesting and fun. And what could be a better way to do it than introducing something new. Pilates would be a good option to consider adding to our daily fitness routine. And to further spice up your dull and boring morning exercise you can invite all your fitness buddies to join in. This would not only help you all reach your targets but also make exercise a fun and frolic group activity.

Swati Ramnath

[Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/126872410/]