Joseph Hubertus Pilates, a gymnast of Greek and German parents, in the early 20th century, developed several exercise to strengthen what he called the "core" muscles of the abdomen, back, hips and buttocks. These muscles are important in balancing and in serving as stabilizers for many moves of other muscles such as the arms and legs muscles. He wrote Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education.
Many Pilates studios have popped up, especially in the past ten years. They offer instruction in matt exercises as well as with the Pilates reformer, a machine with bands and movable parts to assist in Pilates movements. A person must do research as to how qualified instructors are and how comprehensive classes are, and what level classes are appropriate.
Pilates is great for many reasons:
1. Your mind will be developed in the Pilates principles of mind over matter, breathing, centering, concentration, control, precision and fluidity. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilates_Principles)
2. Your mind will be developed in working through pain, especially in the beginning, and in producing slow, flowing movements.
3. It is important for overall strength and for the spine to strengthen the core muscles.
4. Many Pilates moves "hit" muscles in unique ways and work on muscle fibers not used in other exercises.
5. Doing Pilates exercises is great for getting off a plateau. (See the first blog.)
Some disadvantages of Pilates include:
1. Doing Pilates exercises does not provide for an aerobic workout.
2. Doing Pilates exercises does not provide for a workout of non-core muscles, and so is not an overall strength workout.
3. Doing Pilates exercises can develop oversized muscular midsection, sometimes even diminishing the waist-to-hip ratio. Ladies especially may not like this. This would occur, however, only if someone use Pilates for at least an hour five days a week or so and did not balance it with other exercises, such as internal oblique and external oblique exercises.
Pilates exercises are definitely worth a try! See if they are right for you! You can easily do library or Internet research on Pilates.
Check out my Web site http://www.louizapatsis.com/! My book Pocket Guide to Fitness will be available at www.authorhouse.com (best buy), www.amazon.com and
http://www.bn.com/ in about three weeks.