Pilates Exercises

"Pilates Exercises" is a safe, sensible exercise system that will help you look and feel your very best. The ever-growing popularity of Pilates has put it on the map all over the world. 

Joseph Pilates developed his method of exercise in the 1920's as a form of rehabilitation for prisoners of war. Joseph Pilates called his work, contrology. He defined contrology as (the comprehensive integration of body, mind and spirit). This philosophy is beautifully elucidated in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology. 

Some of the benefits sought after with Pilates Exercises are flat abs, long lean muscle and even weight loss. But the main focus behind Pilates is "a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure." Joseph Pilates 

Pilates Exercises have proven to be useful to anyone seeking a higher level of fitness and flexability. Pilates Exercises are good for anyone regardless of age or fitness level. Dancers, athletes, seniors and even mothers who wanted to get back into shape after a pregnancy have all benefited from Pilates exercises and workouts.  

A Typical Pilates Exercises Session
Pilates exercises focus on strengthening the core, proper breathing, and mind-body awareness. This in turn reduces harmful stress resulting in a greater overall state of health. 
The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. And Core strengthening can help to alleviate back pain.

Implementing Pilates Exercises  

You can start Pilates Exercises using your body and a floor mat. That's it. If you don't have a floor mat, start with a padded surface, but do consider getting a Pilates mat in the future.
When you start your Pilates training, it is recommended to start with a live Pilates instructor at a studio or a gym, and preferably a certified instructor. But there are lots of ways to supplement your learning once you get going. You can practice at home and don't need to have any fancy equipment.

You can even do Pilate's exercises online participating from the comfort of your own home. I found this online website that offers a 15 day free trial at home or anywhere you travel. Another option is to buy a DVD and learn Pilates exercises that way. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Try it!

Pilates is an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to Pilates exercises allow for a range of difficulty from beginner to advanced. Find the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves. Once you start Pilates Exercises you can further enhance your workouts by adding Pilates equipment if desired. Save on Pilates Equipment!

What In The World Is Scott Pilates? 

The Scott Pilates method was developed in the 1980s and is continually being refined. The Stott Pilates method has exercises designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints. More emphasis is placed on scapular stabilization than other methods. This method focuses on five basic principles:
  • Breathing
  • Pelvic placement
  • Rib cage placement
  • Scapular movement
  • Head and cervical spine placement
Breathing: The breathing pattern used in the Scott Pilates method involves an expansion of the rib cage out to the sides and back without allowing the shoulders to lift off the mat. According to Stott Pilates, it is also important to breathe into the lower part of the lungs creating a more efficient gas exchange.

Pelvic placement emphasizes stabilization of the pelvis and lumbar spine (lower back) in either a neutral or an imprinted position. The neutral position maintains the normal curve of the lower back. When lying on the back, the front of the hips and pubic bone should lie parallel to the mat, and the lower back should not be pressed into the mat. While breathing and engaging the abdominal in this position, no strain should be felt through the lower back. In an imprinted position, the lower back is moving toward the mat. 

Ribcage placement affects the alignment of the thoracic (upper) spine. When lying on the back in a neutral position, maintain the sense of the weight of the ribs resting gently on the mat (that is, maintain the normal curve of the upper back). Don't lift off or push the rib cage into the mat. Pay particular attention to the placement of the rib cage when inhaling or while performing arm movements overhead.

Scapular movement: Stabilizing your scapulae [shoulder blades] on the back of the rib cage is as important as contracting your abs during the initiation of every exercise. This will help you avoid strain through your neck and upper shoulders.

To achieve proper placement, a sense of width should be maintained across the front and back of the shoulders. Make sure you neither allow your shoulders to round forward too much nor squeeze together toward the spine. Shoulders should not be lifted too far or over-depressed. Placement should be somewhere between these two positions.
The shoulder blades have a large range of motion, so remember to always maintain stability (but not rigidity) when the spine is neutral and the arms are resting, and when the spine is moving and the arms are moving.

Head and cervical spine placement: The most common mistake is that we tilt the chin down too much, taking the natural curve out of the spine. We are designed to have curves in the spine and "letting the back of the neck remain in its natural curve" is what we want to achieve. To do this without force is the ultimate goal. Tips or cues to maintain a natural curve in the neck and the rest of the spine include, but are not limited to, "releasing the chin", "feeling the back of the head on the reformer or mat" and "letting the neck free up".

AeroPilates Pro
Pilates Exercises is whole-body fitness that is adaptable to many fitness levels and needs. It creates strength without bulk, increases flexibility, develops core strength, improves posture, increases energy, promotes weight loss and builds a long lean appearance. Pilates exercises are used by physical therapy clinics so you know it's safe. See the beginners Pilates exercises video at top right.

Pilates Equipment: Pilates exercises can be done on the floor using a mat or on specialized equipment. The main piece of equipment used for Pilates exercises is the Reformer, which has a horizontal support that glides forward and backward on rollers. Resistance is provided by using springs along with other attachments allowing a variety of positions: (lying down, seated or standing). 

Pilates Magic Circle
Mat exercises may or may not include such props as the Stability Ball, Mini Stability Ball, Toning Balls, Flexband and, the Magic Circle. Other terms used are pilates ring, fitness circle, exercise circle and circle pro. For assistance on choosing a quality magic circle, ask a certified Pilates instructor or buy from a trusted online retailer. 
It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first Magic Circle from the ring on a keg. Now that should bring some good humor to your workout!

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