5 benefits of Pilates for both men and women
There are two types of people: People who think Pilates is easy, and people who have actually done Pilates.
For years women have been embracing Pilates as a training method to improve their core strength and full-body fitness. Recently, the benefits of Pilates for men and women of all ages and backgrounds have been recognized more widely. From bricklayers to basketballers, new mothers to muscle-bound gym junkies, Pilates exercises have something to offer everyone.
Regardless of who you are or what your current exercise program looks like, incorporating Pilates into your schedule can offer big health and fitness benefits. Here are five of the biggest benefits of Pilates, for everyone.
1. Improve your strength, flexibility and balance
What does Pilates do for your full-body conditioning? When done correctly, Pilates can challenge your muscles in ways that other exercise doesn’t. An effective Pilates routine won't just fire up your glutes and abdominals, but will also put neglected stabilizing muscles to work.
Complete focus on controlled movement makes for an intense strength workout.
By systematically taking you through different postures, Pilates will help you to find your weak spots and bring them up to standard. This is why even seasoned athletes can be challenged by the slower pace of Pilates. As any Centr member who has done a session with our resident Pilates expert Sylvia Roberts will tell you, this isn’t just a gentle stretch. (They didn’t come up with the #sufferwithSylvia hashtag for nothing!)
Muscular and top-heavy men will find the mat work and flexibility required in Pilates bodyweight exercises to be particularly challenging. “Expect to sweat!” says Sylvia.
While this form of training will put you to the test, Sylvia explains that Pilates also comes with a big payoff. “It's truly, truly challenging, but lifting weights and everything else you do will become so much easier if you become accomplished at Pilates.”
Still not sure this slow and steady style of exercise can deliver results? Give this free Pilates session with Sylvia a try and get back to us (when you catch your breath.)
2. Reduce back pain
Back pain is one of the most commonly reported types of pain among adults. By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, improving posture and reducing stress, Pilates can effectively reduce back pain in many people.
Hollywood stuntman Bobby is such a believer that he joined Sylvia for a few sessions during Centr Align, a 4-week dynamic yoga and Pilates program that builds strength, tone and balance.
If you’re looking for an inspirational Pilates success story to motivate you, look no further than Hollywood stuntman and Centr trainer Bobby Holland Hanton. After undergoing serious back surgery, Pilates was a key part of his rehab.
“I absolutely found that Pilates helped my back, especially in the early days when I was recovering. It helps to strengthen the core and all those muscles that don't get used as often as they should. It helps to strengthen you from the inside out.”
He’s now back on movie sets, doubling for Chris Hemsworth and pulling off incredible stunts – like jumping off buildings and bouncing off cars – reaping the rewards of all that Pilates work.
“To do anything physical, particularly anything that's explosive, your core needs to be engaged, intact, and strong. Pilates is amazing for that,” Bobby says.
3. Move more efficiently
Practicing movement in a way that is in alignment with body mechanics translates to a reduced injury risk when playing sports, performing other exercises, or completing day-to-day tasks like carrying shopping or uncooperative children.
Pilates trains you to move better through everyday life.
Sylvia incorporates functional movements in her Pilates classes in order to help you move more freely and with greater coordination. She originally took up Pilates to complement her training and avoid injury during a professional ballet career. “One of the awesome benefits of regular Pilates practice is a well-conditioned, balanced and injury-free body,” she says.
Stuntman Bobby uses Pilates to complement the intense strength training he uses to bulk up for Thor roles.
“It’s almost like a building block,” Bobby says of Pilates. “It’s something everyone should introduce to their training program. Weights, plyo, cardio – it doesn't matter what you do, if you introduce Pilates to your routine, you set yourself up for success.”
4. Reduce stress
How often do you take time to breathe and focus inward? Pilates forces you to do exactly that. Breathing is incorporated into each exercise as a way to facilitate muscular relaxation or activation. While it’s a challenging workout, it’s not fast and furious like a HIIT session, and movements are often held or performed in a fluid motion. Additionally, performing each exercise correctly with good form requires your full attention, which means you can’t be checking your emails or scrolling social media at the same time!
Put your emails on the backburner and tune into your mind-body connection.
“The mental and emotional benefits with Pilates come from focusing inwards, taking the time to really think about how you're moving and why you're moving,” says Sylvia. “It gives you an increased awareness of your body and a stronger mind-body connection.”
While it is a very different physical practice than yoga, Pilates can have similar calming and mindfulness benefits. Yoga expert Tahl Rinsky says she felt “huge improvements” after just one week of Pilates. “I really enjoy how different the modalities of Pilates and yoga are, but how much they can complement each other and feel quite similar and familiar.”
If you work at a desk all day, aches and pains from your lower back to tense neck and shoulders can add to your stress levels. By strengthening supporting muscles, especially around your core, Pilates can help reduce pain and tightness and boost your overall well-being.
5. Improve the way your body looks and feels
Core strength is a big focus of Pilates, but it’s not the only one. It’s common knowledge that the glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body, but for many people these muscles are underactive. And nobody wants a lazy butt. Pilates teaches you to activate and work the glute muscles, which enables you to burn more energy in each and every workout and accelerate your fat-burning goals.
Build your confidence on the mat for more confidence off the mat.
As you build muscle strength, you’ll also increase tone and definition, as well as the overall balance of muscle throughout your body. Think long, lean legs, sculpted abs and a firm butt.
Plus, by promoting good posture and drawing you upright (even when you’re stuck at that desk all day), and helping you to move more easily and fluidly, Pilates enables you to project confidence.
As a professional ballet dancer, Sylvia relied on Pilates to maintain her body. Now she’s an accredited Pilates teacher and co-founder of Vie Pilates on the Gold Coast. Renowned for bringing the burn, Sylvia’s Pilates workouts boost mobility and strengthen mind-body connection to help you take your fitness to the next level.
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