Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. The method uses the principles of concentration, centering, control, breath, precision, and flow to train the mind and the body. By targeting specific muscles, Pilates exercises create balanced strength and flexibility in the body with a special focus on correct alignment.
Beyond Abdominals: Debunking the Myths Around Core Strength
If people know one thing about Pilates, it’s that Pilates builds core strength. Many people have been told by their doctors or by the media that they need more core strength. Most people have a vague notion that core strength is about abdominal strength, but they don’t really understand why that’s important or how to develop their abdominal strength in a way that will help them.
So let’s start with what core strength is not:
- Core strength is not just about abdominals;
- You can’t get good core strength by doing sit-ups;
- Core strength is not about the big “power” muscles of your body;
- Building core strength isn’t about working harder.
Core strength is about:
- Having good posture;
- Working the smaller, deeper support muscles of your torso;
- Working the body in a balanced way;
- Working mindfully.
The Reason why abdominals are only part of the core strength equation
Your mother may have told you to sit up straight when you were a child, and she wasn’t all wrong. Good posture conveys confidence and is generally perceived as more attractive. Good posture makes you look taller and studies have shown that it can make you happier, less risk-averse, and even affects your hormones.
And the benefits of good posture go way past even that! In Pilates, we call your posture "alignment." Your alignment is described by how the different parts of your body relate to one another. Is your head over your ribcage or do you stick it forward? Do you hold one shoulder higher than the other? Is your spine upright and springy or is it collapsed somewhere?
In ideal alignment, your body can rest in a comfortable upright position without straining any muscles or joints to keep you there. The problem with the old "sit up straight" model is that while you may be able to pull your shoulders back and push your spine straight, if you’re using a lot of effort to hold yourself there then you don’t have good alignment because as soon as you stop paying attention, your body will revert to its poor posture.
How does bad alignment happen?
If you don’t have good alignment, you’re not alone! Cars, computers, cell phones, carrying heavy backpacks—so many activities in daily life can lead to poor posture. The results of poor alignment are as many and varied as the people who experience them, but may include:
- Neck pain & injury;
- Spine & disc injuries;
- Restricted breathing;
- Shoulder pain & injury;
- Knee & hip pain;
- Loss of balance;
The list goes on and on.
How does Pilates fix it?
Good alignment is at the core of the Pilates method. Using the principles of concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision, and flow, Pilates workouts target specific muscles to build balanced strength in the front, the back, and the sides of the body so that you can effortlessly and comfortably maintain healthy alignment. As you have no doubt heard, the abdominal muscles play an important part in this equation since they help to support the front and the sides of your body, but the muscles of the pelvis, the diaphragm, and the many muscles supporting the spine are also critical for the whole picture of good alignment. A regular Pilates practice allows you to strengthen all of these muscles in a balanced way while also training your body how to use your core to support the movements of your arms and legs.
What is the result of good alignment?"When all your muscles are properly developed, you will, as a matter of course, perform your work with minimum effort and maximum pleasure." -Joseph Pilates
The results of a regular Pilates practice include (but are not limited to):
- A long, lean, toned appearance;
- Fewer aches and pains;
- Increased confidence;
- Injury prevention;
- Improved balance, coordination & circulation.
The Pilates method uses large pieces of equipment with spring resistance to challenge the body in many different directions. The resistance of the equipment builds strength in the arms and legs, all while maintaining the coordination of the core muscles. Since every person has a different starting point, we recommend starting with private lessons to get the greatest effect the fastest. You can also do duets with a friend. The more personal attention you get, the faster your body will change and the greater results you’ll see.
We are proud to say that our studio has the most experienced group of Pilates instructors in town. There are many different schools of Pilates, and styles vary from slow in pace (similar to physical therapy), to dance-like, to strong and athletic-based. Our instructors teach in a variety of styles, but they have all been trained and certified through rigorous programs that cover modifications and variations to allow for many different fitness levels and physical abilities. Our instructors are devoted to continuing their education and stay up-to-date on the latest research and exercise principles in order to give you a safe workout with results that only increase the longer that you practice.
Group classes are a great place to practice the Pilates principles that you’ve learned in your private lessons.
We offer mat classes which don’t use the large equipment but do often incorporate small equipment like rings, balls, and bands to give you challenge. Many people enjoy learning the mat work as a more portable Pilates solution that they can practice at home.
We also offer reformer group classes which utilize one of the large pieces of Pilates equipment for added challenge and variety.
Personalized for you
We work with each client to develop a workout plan that fits your goals, budget, and schedule.