5 ways Pilates can change your life

5 ways Pilates can change your life

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself!”

An easy way to see rapid changes in your life is to start doing Pilates. Pilates can change your life. Not only will you see physical benefits, but your lifestyle and mental attitude can reap the rewards. Who knew that a discipline created to rehabilitate war prisoners would spread around the world to improve the lives of people of all ages and physical capabilities.

1) Anti-aging

No matter what your age, everyone would love to turn back the clock to some degree. Actress and fitness guru Jane Fonda led the aerobics exercise craze back in the 1980s. Maintaining her incredible shape at the age of 78, she is still looked to for fitness advice. Fonda was recently asked in an interview about her fitness regime:

“I stay active, I hike, I walk, do resistance bands, pilates and yoga—you’ve gotta move,” Fonda responded. “The saying ‘move it or lose it’ is so incredibly true but more so especially when you’re older. If you don’t keep moving you go downhill really fast when you’re older. Young bodies are more forgiving, so if you’re not regular about working out, it doesn’t show up right away but it does when you’re older.

And by working out, I don’t mean doing very hard things or running marathons and things like that, we have to be more careful with our joints and bones so you do things forward and you do things that don’t have as much impact. But you’ve got to keep moving, it’s so important.”

Pilates is the perfect low-impact workout for older people, but also for those of any age. Pilates offers results with a method that’s easy on the joints, making it ideal even for rehab patients and those suffering from disease.

2) Build strength and flexibility

Celebrity Pilates trainer, Kristin McGee, tells us that the Pilates method is so important to the world of fitness “because of its focus on core strength. Our core is our foundation and we all need to learn how to lead from our center and support ourselves from our powerhouse. Then we can do anything in life and other fitness modalities.”

Regarding the use of a Pilates reformer like the Pilates Power Gym, Kristin says “I think the reformer adds extra resistance and can help strengthen and lengthen the muscles even further. It also helps as a tactile aid so people know truly where they need to be working from. The reformer also offers more and different exercises so it adds variety and keeps our muscles guessing.”

 

3) Weight Loss

We’ve all heard that weight loss is linked to our metabolism rate. As we age, we lose 3% of muscle per decade beginning in our 30s.

“It’s so important to continually build that lean muscle because it’s our muscle that keeps our metabolism revved,” Kristin McGee explains. “And as we age we start to lose lean muscle mass and so that’s why our metabolisms dip. That’s why you can’t eat as many calories as you get older.”

“So if you add that component of strength training and building your muscle [with Pilates], you’re going to really keep your metabolism active,” McGee continues. “You’re going to be able to eat more of those healthy, yummy foods that you love. Pilates keeps you in touch with your inside feeling so you actually start to make better [food] choices.”

4) Rehabilitation

Pilates has been shown to help people with various injuries and diseases rehabilitate their bodies. The low-impact and focused method of muscle strengthening with emphasis on the core can help people who are recovering from car accidents, cancer, athletic injuries and even those living with multiple sclerosis.

For example, Pilates can provide effective physical therapy for breast cancer patients who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy. A mastectomy involves surgical removal of the entire breast and often removal of lymph nodes under the arms.

As a result, the surgery to remove breast cancer can leave patients with decreased mobility in their arms and back. Pilates can provide therapy to breast cancer patients through the specific exercises that help improve strength and mobility to the arms, chest and back. The mental discipline required from Pilates also provides benefits to breast cancer patients and people suffering from other conditions.

5) Mental Attitude

One important benefit of Pilates may be the one that is most underutilized. Pilates can literally be a workout not only for your body, but also for your brain.

“Concentration is often overlooked,” says Fitness Channel instructor, Kristin McGee. “I often see students just going through the movements without really being connected to the muscles they should be using. It’s so important to stay focused and concentrated. Pilates is a true mind/body movement and we need to use our focus and put our mind in our muscles when we move so we can get the most benefits.” – T.Y.

 

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Pilates or Yoga: Which is a better workout?

Pilates or Yoga: Which is a better workout?

While many people may wonder if they should do yoga or Pilates, the real question to ask is should you combine the two for an optimal workout routine. Many celebrities and fitness trainers practice both Pilates and yoga and find that the the two fitness disciplines truly complement each other.

“I like how yoga aids in flexibility which allows Pilates practitioners to go deeper in to their practice and connect easier with their core. When your limbs are loose, you can access your powerhouse easier,” explains Pilates and yoga trainer, Kristin McGee. “I also think yoga adds a lot of standing work that you won’t find as much of in Pilates so you can find your core when your practicing your balance standing. The two are very complementary to each other and I love them both.”

Yoga is an Eastern approach to exercise which originated in India. Yoga, which also has spiritual and mental aspects, focuses on specific bodily postures and breath control. The different yoga poses focus on flexibility and strengthening of the muscles around the spine. As a result, “posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder and neck pain.”

Yoga also includes deep breathing and simple meditation which is practiced to achieve relaxation. As a result, yoga has been shown to “lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol even after one session.”

Pilates is a Western approach to exercise created by Joseph Pilates in Europe, and then the U.S. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening the core stomach muscles while concentrating on controlled breathing. A variety of exercises done while laying down, sitting or with equipment can work virtually every muscle in your body. While almost all muscles can be toned and tightened through the various exercises, Pilates does a better job at strengthening your core than yoga.

For those wondering if they should try Pilates, celebrity trainer Kristin McGee has this advice: “Pilates is a lifelong practice and one that keeps you centered, strong, flexible and healthy. It’s something you can do in any stage of life and it complements all other activities. I would say everyone should get acquainted with it and use any of the movements they can on a daily basis to live in their bodies in a way that feels amazing!”

Many fitness instructors like Kristin McGee started out doing yoga and then added Pilates to their regimen. In fact, the woman behind the Pilates Power Gym, Denise DuBarry Hay, got her start in the fitness world through yoga. Her love of yoga has been a great complement to Pilates.

“Yoga and Pilates are similar in that they both promote flexibility and stretching, and muscle development, however, they approach these results in different ways,” Denise explains. “Many yoga postures are isometric stretches that you hold for 20-30 seconds, where most Pilates moves are repeated over and over. They are both highly effective forms of exercise and I enjoy both.”

While many of the exercises may be different, the goals of Pilates and yoga are quite similar. They both emphasize mental awareness and concentration with low-impact stretching and strengthening of muscles. Why not get the best of both worlds and incorporate both yoga and Pilates into your workout routine! – T.Y.

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