The Pilates Mat Class is a great way to begin your Pilates experience. The Mat is possibly the hardest of all the Pilates exercises to master-no tricks, no gadgets, just your mind and your body. Your first class might concentrate on breathing and posture and gradually move into the exercises.
The origins of the Pilates apparatus can be traced back to England during WWI when Joseph Pilates was rehabilitating wounded soldiers. He began experimenting with springs attached to hospital beds and the first piece of Pilates apparatus-today known as the Cadillac-was born.
Patients were able to perform resistance exercises while still bed-ridden and Pilates discovered that this speeded their recovery. Later on, Joe worked as a circus artist where he got his initial idea for the Wunda Chair, which he later went on to develop into a true home Reformer. He was apparently very resourceful in finding his building material. It is said that he constructed his first Barrel from half a beer keg, with the steel hoops of the keg becoming the original Magic Circle. (Known as the Pilates Ring)
After moving to the U.S., Joe established a little workshop underneath his original New York studio on 8th Avenue at 56th Street. Here he enthusiastically worked on creating additional Pilates apparatus. A Pilates workout utilizing all the apparatus is the path that leads to the greatest results.
The primary pieces of Pilates apparatus are:
- Cadillac (i.e. Trap Table)
- Wall Unit (i.e. Tower or Spring Board)
- High Chair
- Wunda Chair
- Small Barrel
- Spine Corrector
- Ladder Barrel
- Magic Circle (Pilates Ring)
Pilates apparatus sessions and Pilates mat classes that will accommodate your goals, budget and lifestyle. Flexx Appeal Pilates Studio makes it possible for clients to quickly feel the difference, gradually see the difference, and eventually experience “a whole new body” and reap the Promise of Pilates.
Why does Pilates equipment use springs for resistance instead of weights?
The most defining feature of Pilates equipment is its use of springs for resistance. In fact, if you replaced the springs with weights, Pilates apparatus would be no different than some of the other equipment found in a fitness center. Springs are truly essential to getting the great results possible from equipment-based Pilates exercises. Here are the key reasons why:
Springs provide both assistance and resistance.
A spring has the ability to provide resistance in one direction and assistance in the opposite direction.
Springs encourage eccentric muscle activity.
An eccentric contraction happens when you lengthen a muscle while actively working it.
Springs proved an active, flowing stretch.
Muscles have mechanisms that can protect us from overstretching them, but that can sometimes limit our ability to gain flexibility. On the Reformer, the spring tricks this system of inhibition and allows muscles to gently stretch more effectively. When you return the carriage, the spring recoils and decreases its pull or tension, causing the muscle to relax. This allows the joint to go into a position of stretch for that same because muscles stretch more readily immediately after contraction.
Benefits of Pilates
No matter what you do during the day, washing, ironing, picking up the kids, working at a computer, running, feeding the pets etc.; all of these activities can be enhanced by bringing Pilates into your daily life, and we don’t just mean working out.
The basic principles of Pilates, like neutral spine, shoulder stability, using your abs to support your spine and upper body will help you to strengthen while at the same time ease some of those aches and pains caused by under or over-use of muscles.
Horse Riding: Pilates is great for developing deep abdominal muscles and strong shoulder stabilizers to ensure good posture while riding. Strong glutes and inner thighs are also important for gripping the saddle.
Golf: The swinging motions of a golf club result in one side of the body being worked differently than the other, which sets up an imbalance. Repetitive movements such as while playing golf, only use the same series of muscles within a limited sequence of movement (the swing). The core muscles must be engaged properly during the swing so that an imbalance doesn’t occur from one-sided muscle development. Pilates on an exercise ball is also good for improving balance which is important in golf. These Pilates principles also apply to most forms of racket sports such as Tennis.
Dancers: Pilates strengthens, lengthens and tones the muscles as well as improving posture and increasing flexibility and balance. Hardly surprising then that, long before Pilates was known to a wider audience, dancers were the first to discover it, while such legendary figures of the dance world as Martha Graham and George Balanchine were among Joseph Pilates’ most devoted clients at his original studio, in New York.
Dancers suffer multiple injuries and here Pilates is also useful, helping to pinpoint injured areas and focusing specific exercises on the damaged muscle. Pilates can also help to focus the mind and improve the mental state during recovery.
Hockey: Pilates can help strengthen the important muscles that are engaged during hockey, such as the obliques (for shot power), glutes (for power on the skates), and joint stabilizer muscles (to prevent injuries). Pilates can also help with balance, stability, and body awareness in space.
Football: Pilates is beneficial for building strong glutes and legs needed for running, kicking, and abruptly changing direction. Strong arms are needed for blocking opponents and strong core muscles (abdominals, spine) for sudden direction changes and injury prevention.
Martial Arts: The core muscles of the body provide almost all of the power needed for the speedy, precise movements of the martial arts – and what better way to build strong core muscles and promote impressive results than by practicing Pilates.
Running: Runners do Pilates most of all because it builds long, strong muscles, improves their flexibility and lessens their risk of injury. The way that Pilates opens up the vertebrae in the lower back, in particular, helps prevent the sort of back injuries which can result from the constant impact involved in running.
Running and Pilates, however, also complement each perfectly at what might called a deeper, philosophical level.
Good runners run tall. They don’t hunch, lean, push with their hips or tighten through the neck and shoulders. They avoid pounding the ground with every stride. Their movement is smooth and light. There is both an economy and an integrity to their form.
Swimming: Pilates exercises are performed at a deliberate pace, employing appropriate breathing patterns and attention to detail. This approach translates well to the pool, where many swimmers need to ‘slow down’, forget how many lengths they intended to swim and focus instead on breathing, body orientation and balance.
Particularly important is the need to release the neck in order to lengthen the spine, eliminating the muscular tension that affects the whole body when the head is pulled back. The head position adopted by most poor swimmers, particularly when performing the breast-stroke, would be impossible to hold for long periods out of the water. The challenge, therefore, is to ‘remember to remember’ the superior postural alignment and sense of lightness gained through Pilates and apply it in the pool.
As a result, it is rare to find recreational or fitness swimmers demonstrating effortless, efficient strokes that cause barely a ripple on the surface. Instead, too many of them view swimming as a battle against a relentless opponent – the water; hence the number of head-out-of-the-water thrashers, expending energy but getting nowhere, both literally and metaphorically.
Swimmers who also do Pilates, however, find it easier to focus on breathing, grace, flow and maintaining a steady pace.
Tennis: A growing number of tennis and squash players at every level for everything from injury prevention and recovery to rectifying muscle imbalance, improving flexibility and building core and stabilizer muscles.
Well-known tennis players who do use Pilates range from Venus and Serena Williams to Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati. Martina Navratilova says that Pilates has helped her body regain the flexibility of her prime, while Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion, still does Pilates as a key part of his fitness routine.
Pilates has endless applications for many recreational sports and activities.
Flexx Appeal Pilates studio offers custom sports-specific sessions for instructors, fitness professionals, and athletes. The sports-specific Pilates courses are private sessions where your instructor will create a custom workout based on your particular sports interest and needs. The student will learn the basic fundamentals of the Pilates method and how these principles can be applied to their specific sport. So why not see how Pilates can enhance your athletic performance!
Click Here to read an article about Pilates and Autism
From Balanced Body Inc. Magazine.
Pregnancy: Pre- And Post-Natal
You should check with your doctor before doing any kind of exercise during pregnancy. It can, meanwhile, be hard to force yourself to exercise during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when you might be feeling tired and sick, and in the third trimester, when you may be exhausted and uncomfortable.
Pilates, however, tends to be a particularly suitable choice for pregnant women, since it is a safe, low-impact form of exercise that tones and strengthens the back, stomach and pelvic floor muscles: the very muscles you’ll need in pregnancy. Plus, because it doesn’t feel like hard work, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
In fact, many women first discover Pilates either when they are pregnant or have just given birth.
Pilates routines are ideally for building muscular strength and stamina (for labour and delivery), flexibility and balance (for when you get larger). The exercises can be adapted for each stage of pregnancy. They can also relieve lower back pain and constipation, and even energize the body to fight tiredness.
Pilates exercises will help strengthen muscles that usually weaken with the weight of pregnancy. They can prevent swollen legs and varicose veins, improve posture and increase blood circulation and the supply of oxygen to the womb. Pilates breathing, meanwhile, helps with breath control during childbirth.
You may, of course, need to do Pilates in a modified or gentler way while pregnant, and to make sure you stop the moment that you feel any discomfort.
Women can generally return to Pilates four to six weeks after delivery, or eight to 12 weeks after a Caesarean section.
For new mothers, Pilates will stretch muscles back into place, helping the body regain its shape and tone. The exercises won’t overstrain the obese, and our teachers will customize the routine for each client, providing a safe and effective workout that is not too stressful for the abdominal area or spine, even in those who have had a Caesarean delivery.
Pilates is also an excellent choice for women thinking about starting a family. Develop those core muscles, especially the pelvic floor, to get the strength you’ll need for childbirth and the resilience to cope with your body’s physical changes during pregnancy.
How Pilates Can Help Those Who Suffer From Parkinson’s
By Kim Curran
Movements in Pilates are controlled sometimes only by moving the body inches. Small movements like performed in Pilates are helping those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
A growing number of clients are claiming that there is reducing symptoms, and some find this a “Real Relief” . Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder, that inhibits a person’s ability to control movements. It’s almost common symptoms are tremors, slowness of movements, rigidity and poor balance.
Flexx Appeal Pilates Inc. is now offering a program to help those with Parkinson’s in groups of 1-4 per class. Pilates is a great place to start to begin feeling more balance and strength. Flexx Appeal Pilates is a positive environment and relaxed atmosphere. The basic principle of Pilates is increasing core strength and improving flexibility and balance. That is why it is helpful in countering the effects of Parkinson’s in some people. Pilates movements aren’t a strain, which makes the program more approachable for Parkinson patients.
Many patients suffer from depression as well…some say exercise can help. Pilates is a body, mind and soul exercise regimen. Improved confidence an endurance. You can fell so much better just by doing Pilates.
How Pilates Can Help Those With Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Stiffness And Joint Pains…
Physical therapy for arthritis focuses on getting clients functionally back to normal and Pilates exercises are popular with them as a way to stretch body tissue. Arthritis can free the affected joint causing loss of movement and when movement is lost through arthritis, it can be lost for good.
Pilates can prevent this from happening. It improves joint mobility, flexibility and trunk stability. It can also have the added benefit of increasing energy levels and improving sleep patterns. We modify the program for each person so everyone sees progress through time. It also improves posture and balance. Pilates strengthens and conditions the muscles. This helps to keep muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joint arthritis. When combined with aerobic or endurance exercises will help cardiovascular fitness and keeping weight off as well will relieve pressure on the joints.
Pilates has also been found helpful by some suffers of Fibromyalgia, a syndrome characterized by severe pain in joints. Pilates sessions will focus on movement, gentle strengthening and gradual progression, depending on tolerance of sufferers. Many of my clients have found Pilates a safe and enjoyable way to build up their muscles and strengthen their joints.