Why Pilates? Inspiring stuff with technical approach

I know you hear this thing “Pilates” more often than you probably did hear 10 years ago. What is that?  At least we all overheard all the stories of our friends about Pilates…They feel relaxed after each class, many manage to tone up already and send all the tension in their body out.

by Nilufer Yilmaz @ny_pilates

In addition to that, I am sure many of us already heard about Pilates is a refreshing mind-body workout. It emphasizes breathing efficiently, corrects the spine, concentrates on smooth flowing movement, it is gentle but also it is challenging and helps you to tone up.

Having said that Pilates does not put the emphasis only on muscle gain or losing weight, it specifically focuses more on our spine movement. Sometimes joint mobilization gain over the focus on the muscles.

What’s going on social media, seriously?

Nowadays there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that Pilates has a whole range of health consequences, there is also reasonable toning up and weight loss results across people that can lead many to give Pilates a go…There is too much attention on social media, so much information to digest and we are all pulled first one way then the other and finally end up with confusion. In such circumstances, putting together some analytical thought along with a little common sense would tell us what should be done.

Do you know we all have to mix our workouts to recruit all types of muscles fibers?

Muscle density genetically rely on the combination of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers. I learnt this very recently as well. Many well-known cardio activities, weight bearing activities serve in the way of exerting fast-twitch fibers. This is fantastic. Fast twitch muscles are good for rapid movements, contract quickly, but get tired fast and do not use oxygen to supply energy which means your body does not still start to burn enough sugar and fat if you do not initiate your slow twitch muscles.

This is where Pilates comes into play.

Long duration aerobic (where body utilize oxygen usage) exercises like Pilates mainly use slow-twitch fibers. This leads to an increase in your stamina and the oxygen capacity of your muscles, allowing the body to burn energy for longer periods of time.

Basically this is due to the fact that slow twitch fibers consist more mitochondria and more blood vessels. In simple terms with large amounts of mitochondria and enough oxygen supply we could burn more sugar as well as fats. Bingo!!

Our metabolic activity has increased since the muscles start to burn more calories in the long run as our nervous system becomes better at recruiting slow twitch muscle fibers which you could barely activate in other activities such as gym. It makes more sense now why people do tone up with Pilates!

It is always essential to mix different types of exercises in our exercise plan to improve our total fitness level. However what makes Pilates quite popular nowadays is, in general terms, high intensity interval training is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is nice to know with simple modifications one more repeat of micromovements done in Pilates can feel way more painful. Doing Pilates at least twice a week can improve your overall fitness in a number of ways.

In addition, Pilates exercises require serious balance as well as flexibility, which typically is not involved in your standard cardio or strength workout.

Why is Pilates a good way to switch off your brain by concentration?

When I read Pilates is all about concentration alone, this confuses my mind. This has to be discussed together with motor skills. For instance simply in running or walking, you wouldn’t have too much to focus on. Your body is naturally able to walk and run without an extra concentration. Even in swimming, water helps you to lift yourself up. All the resistance machines are good for muscle development yet again they bring the necessary concentration down to a minimum level. Mat Pilates is mostly about controlling and balancing your own body weight against gravity. So your motor skills are engaged at its most, you need to concentrate well and as the moves flow all the way through a Pilates class, you find a good way to switch your brain totally off!

Do you really want to end up with different curvatures of your spine as you grow older?

This part could be considered as the main competency of Pilates and tell us why we should combine our cardio workouts with Pilates as many professionals do.

“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” - Joseph Pilates

Briefly, our brain gets messages from our sensory system and decides which muscles specifically need to action in which way. This happens by the help of our lovely nervous system and our spine is the bridge for signal transfer. That’s awesome up to this point. What if I tell you there are muscles holding all the discs (bones) together in our spine and give its certain shape to it. Touch with your hands and feel those small ball - like bones through your bottom to your skull. We always skip those muscles and put our spine aside even though it is life bearing. Well, I know most of us luckily very young and healthy person and we are always after the quickest way of getting into shape. Yet, we often skip the most important thing. Having a long lasting beautiful physical appearance relies on keeping our spine strong and flexible.

The best way to do so is Pilates unless you are a dancer or ballet.

That why Pilates appeal to everyone and especially it is very popular amongst people who has a hectic work- life in the office, sit all day long, drive too much, feels quite stressful and as a result have tight muscles…I almost forgot to mention about elderly people who doesn’t fancy intense activities but would like to keep their neutral curvature of spine and their motor skills working!

Joint Stabilization

Another reason of why other sports professionals does Pilates as well, it is the best way of taking the tension out from your joints which are usually under a lot of pressure either by daily activities or running or power walking or weight-lifting activities etc. Regularly and properly work through our joints help our body to produce more synovial fluid (it is the necessity to prevent the friction in our joints) therefore keeping the joints working efficiently is another way to stay young as you get ages.

Did you ever hear about Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Pilates is obsessed with Pelvic Floor muscles. Almost every class starts with Pelvic muscle activation and you barely find this opportunity in other activity types. Just an advice, squats are perfect at activating your pelvic floor muscles without knowing you switch them on.

What have we got to do with these muscles?
- they lift upwards the internal organs
- they prevent incontinence (control the release of urine)
- they help to deliver the baby and might loosen after the labour therefore, needs to be worked out both in pre and post-natal period
- they have got sexual functions
- ……and many more

Breathing is our life source

“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly “. - Joseph Pilates

When I first immerse myself into Pilates, I came across with lateral breathing. This breathing technique is used all the way through in a proper Pilates class. Therefore, effective breathing is granted by Pilates!

It is good to know the more our ribcage expands the more our livers could get oxygen in. This is possible as long as the muscles between the ribcage are alive and strong. Otherwise, we have difficulty in breathing, lack of oxygen supply to our cells inevitably lead to other diseases.

The main principle in Pilates is to breathe efficiently and you definitely do this with the instructions you get during a class. Plus, lateral breathing happens with the help of lower abdominals. That’s why your lower abdominals are always engaged in a decent Pilates class and you see the difference in your tummy area.

These are only a few benefits of Pilates we can mention about yet enough to encourage ourselves to love our body and mind more than ever before and it is a good start to think about our total fitness level.