Mat Pilates 101: Everything you need to know about Pilates - Xtend Barre
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If you haven’t tried a Pilates class yet, I warn you… once you find the power of Pilates, you will join the millions of people who scream its benefits from the rooftops. These benefits include Improved strength, increased mobility and better co-ordination, all of which teamed with the chemical benefits of exercise will give you more energy.

You might have a few questions about Pilates, so hopefully this blog will answer some of them for you.

“Does Pilates make you stronger?”

YES! The total body workout strengthens, sculpts and defines muscles you didn’t even know you had. Expect to work hard and feel the burn in Pilates. Whilst a lot of the exercises will only require moving your body weight, the addition of small props like the ball and foam roller will challenge your stability and range of motion to fire the deepest muscles and encourage you to work your muscles through their greatest range. Added resistance from weights and stretch bands will increase the effort required and progress your strength further.

“Do you need to be flexible to do Pilates?”

No. Pilates is an excellent program to work on mobility with a strong focus on spinal mobility. Spinal health is SO important. This is something that is presenting itself as an issue with many people complaining of chronic neck and lower back pain due to the postures we adopt during our day to day lives (think about how you are slouched in your seat right now!). In Pilates you will move your spine (and ankles, knees, hips and shoulders) in ways that will promote the most mobility in your joints, encouraging efficient movement and reducing stress on the lumbar spine. Coupled with the improvement you can expect to find in your core strength, you will likely have fewer complaints of aches and pains.

“Does having a 6-pack mean I have a strong core?”

We all know what a ripped 6-pack looks like… but did you know that, even if you have the most chiselled 6-pack, you can still have very poor core strength? The “core” muscles are different from your abdominal muscles. The core muscles sit deep and form a cylinder in your lower trunk. They include the deepest layer of spinal and abdominal muscles, along with the pelvic floor and the diaphragm (your breathing muscle at the base of your ribs). Pilates plays an incredible role in getting these deepest muscles firing and communicating with each other, to offer you complete support in all directions. With a strong focus on breathing to assist movement, muscle activation to stabilise the spine, and pelvic floor muscle control, the rest of your body can move more freely, as there is a stable centre to work from.

“A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.” — Joseph Pilates

“Does Pilates require a lot of co-ordination?”

Yes! Luckily for you, the expertise of your instructors allows this to be something you can build upon if you’re not sure where your left or right foot is! Although some Mat Pilates classes look relaxing (who doesn’t love lying down to exercise), your brain needs to be switched on in a Pilates class. You will be guided to connect your core muscles, breathe, lift your right leg in the air whilst your left leg is doing something completely different, and then if you’re lucky, we’ll throw in some arm movements to really challenge your stabilising muscles and co-ordination. Combined with the benefits of strengthening the smaller muscles closer to the joints, over time, members start moving with more body awareness and control, their proprioception improves, and they can step up to the progressions that are always layered into every great Pilates class.

So, whilst I can type out the longest blog post ever raving about the benefits of Pilates (there are heaps!), it is always best to try it in person. To feel those muscles you never knew you had engaged & firing, to feeling your co-ordination and flexibility improving week on week.

Enquire at your local studio and book in today.