If you’ve never tried Pilates before, you probably think it’s basically pretty similar to yoga.
And it is – in that it’s low intensity training and focuses on controlled, steady movements.
But Pilates has a whole range of unique benefits that can really help to tone and condition the muscles in your entire body.
And the best news is that you can do it from your living room. Ideal.
We’re big fans of Pilates because you don’t have to be a fitness buff to give it a try. You could go to a class with your mum, or even your nan, and you will all feel the benefits.
We asked pilates expert Helena Lewis, owner of On Route Health, to tell us more about why Pilates is such a useful form of exercise.
‘Gym workouts help build the outside muscle groups, and Pilates work with muscles deeper within – the ones that are usually neglected or less used,’ Helena tells Metro.co.uk.
‘By working from the inside out, you develop a greater understanding of the body, and you start to use smaller muscle groups.
What are the benefits of pilates?
‘There are several health benefits of regular Pilates exercises:
- Pilates is proven to improve flexibility and mobility, as it’s designed to stretch and strengthen muscles. The core muscles that Pilates is designed to strengthen are the abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks.
- Improved balance, coordination and posture.
- Improved focus and concentration.
- Helps fight fatigue.
- It’s perfect for rehabilitation for injuries, as well as prevention.
- It’s great for relaxation. Doing it in the evening may also help improve sleep patterns.
- Improved breathing and circulation. It’s potentially a good exercise for smokers and ex smokers to expand their lung capacity, and can help heart health as part of a healthy living regime.
- Reduces your risk of diabetes.
- Helps with blood pressure issues.
- Great for helping with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
- Good for controlling weight.
Can Pilates make you stronger?
‘Pilates is fantastic for building strength and muscle, but should be incorporated into a fitness regime,’ explains Helena.
‘On its own, it’s still a great workout, but you won’t reach your strength and muscle goals with Pilates alone.
‘Pilates is amazing for conditioning, and a good instructor will help you to use Pilates to understand your body and how you can use it as part of your overall plan to achieve your goals.
‘With Pilates, you will experience improved strength and tone, but it isn’t the sole answer to achieving this, more so maintaining it.
‘Pilates should be part of the plan, not the only plan, but anyone wanting to achieve muscle mass and strength should seriously consider implementing it into their schedule.
‘Pilates alongside strength training in any form is the most effective way of strength building.
‘For best results, Pilates needs to be practiced twice per week at least.’
Simple Pilates workout to try at home
‘Another benefit of Pilates is that it’s easy to emulate at home.
‘Though for the best development I would recommend undertaking classes with a trained instructor.
‘There are several small exercises that you can do at home, and these take a maximum of 15 minutes.
‘The following moves are simple and effective and I would recommend doing three full circuits of them. However, depending on your personal health and fitness, speak to a trained Pilates teacher first to ensure you are working on technique to minimise risk of injury.’
This exercise is great for toning the glutes, but for also working out any tight muscles and pains you may have in the neck, back and shoulders.
Lay on the floor, with your legs bent, feet on the floor and hands down by your sides.
Through your arms, roll up so your pelvis is lifted off of the floor, squeezing your glute muscles.
You should feel the squeeze and stretch through your lower back. Starting with the ribs, slowly roll back down.
Do 10-12 reps.
Pilates push up
The Pilates push up is perfect for working on your core, as well as your triceps, which are one of the most neglected muscles in the body.
Start in a plank, with elbows over the hands and tighten your abdominal muscles.
Squeeze your inner thighs as you lower yourself down into a push up. And then push back up.
This is important to focus on technique and posture and try not to dip your back as this will create unnecessary strain.
All the power needs to come from the core and the triceps. Do 5 reps to start with, and build yourself up.
Standing side kick
This is great for improved posture, balance and coordination, and also changing between standing up and lying down exercises means a better, full-body workout.
Stand with your left foot on a yoga block or even a book and right foot on the floor.
Keeping your left knee soft for balance, flex your right foot and extend your right leg forward. Squeeze your glute muscles as you bring leg back.
Do 10 reps and try not place your right foot back on the floor during the full set.
This is fantastic to either start or end your workout, and is great for waking you up in the morning, or as a stretching exercise away from your desk to keep you active.
It’s designed to help flexibility, coordination, posture and mobility. One of my favourites.
Lengthen your legs in front of you with toes facing up. Put your arms up, out to your sides.
With each arm, rotate to your front, and reach to touch your opposite toe.
Rolling like a ball
This is perfect for improving and developing spin flexibility and tackling anxiety.
Bring your knees into your chest and roll back and forth so your spine rolls along the floor, keeping your knees into your chest.
I am Team GB
Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.
Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.
Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.
To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com
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