We recommend pilates as a form of exercise that can be both mindful and exhilarating.
With gyms closed and my upper body strength being non-existent, the idea of attempting to lift weights in front of other people has seemed neither maintainable nor desirable, so I decided to turn to trusty YouTube for my workouts, which is where I discovered pilates. Not only is it a great way to strengthen your body evenly and increase your flexibility, but you can do pilates at home without any equipment - how ideal!
I'm here to convince you to take up pilates as your go-to workout on days when you want to get active, even though we all have days when we’d prefer to stay in bed and watch another episode of Friends. Here are some of the best things pilates can do for you.
Pilates exercises are carefully designed to improve your body-strength in a balanced and equal way, making it a brilliant way to build up some extra muscle. Focusing mainly on your body’s core muscles, pilates can enhance the control you have of your body, improving your balance over time. If like me, you want to work towards weight training, this is a great place to start. By improving your balance and strength simultaneously, pilates helps stabilise your technique, meaning when you move onto lifting you can do so safely and with a bit of extra muscle!
Another great benefit of pilates is its promotion of flexibility and good posture. A strong core supports your back alignment, allowing your posture to improve and encourage you to walk tall and proud. Even better, pilates aims to help you safely deepen your stretch, getting you one step closer to touching those toes. By focusing on movement while stretching, pilates gets your muscles warm and active, ready for the additional stretches and allowing you to reach further for longer. If you want to really boost your flexibility, you can add an extra ten minutes of pure stretching to your workout, reducing any muscle tension you might have experienced previously.
3. Health benefits
What better reason to exercise than health benefits? Pilates has loads! Firstly, core and glute exercises support and strengthen your back, helping reduce back strains and pains. Secondly, injuries are uncommon, making pilates a safe way to improve your strength and allow you to build up resilience against weight-related injuries. Thirdly, as pilates sessions constantly challenge and engage your core, it’s a brilliant way to tone your stomach.
The health benefits are not merely physical! Exercise is proven to release endorphins that make you happy, helping you to set the mood for the rest of your week. Exercise also increases energy, making a quick morning session a brilliant substitution for a coffee. Finally, the combination of ab-burning exercises and stretch-based movements helps relieve stress. The slow transitions encourage you to move with intent and bring awareness to your body, making pilates a form of mindful movement.
4. Wiggle room
While many fitness classes are intimidating, with many gym-rats pushing out intense workout routines with no problems, pilates is known to have more wiggle room. There are often alternative approaches to each exercise, allowing you to adapt the workouts to suit you. Pilates is all about control as opposed to speed, meaning you can go at your own pace without feeling guilty or behind. Slow movements won’t mean your progress is slower, as the concentration and strength needed for the control pilates demands will ensure you break a sweat and feel a burn.
5. Where to look
While there are so many great places to find pilates workouts online, I recommend Youtube, as the variation is huge and there is something out there for everywhere. Have a go at some different workout routines and find what suits you and your body type - Move with Nicole is my go-to girl.