The power of Pilates matwork

Pilates is a form of exercise
originally developed in the 1930s but has exploded into the main stream over
the last 10 years to become one of the most popular and accessible ways to keep
your body strong.

Pilates helps flatten tone and
strengthen your abdominals and gives you longer, leaner muscles.

Pilates provides a long streamlined
body shape due to its amazing focus on strengthening muscles in their
lengthened and stretched out positions. It can also help improve posture by
bringing balance back to the muscles in the chest/upper back and the abs, back
and hips and help realign and restore proper posture.

Another benefit of Pilates is
injury prevention. By incorporating Pilates into your regular training programme,
you will be able to lengthen tight muscles, improve range of motion and injury-proof
your body.

Rehabilitation from injury using Pilates
is also ideal because the exercises are non-impact, low resistance and gentle
on the joints.  It creates greater
balance, strength and flexibility: The unique combination of stretching and
strengthening exercises improves muscle tone and creates greater balance of
muscle groups throughout the body.

Pilates is practised in one of two
ways: using larger apparatus based on a system using springs for resistance
such as the Reformer, Stability Chair and Cadillac or as a free body exercises
using only a mat or small equipment such as toning weights, flex bands, flex
balls, fitness circles and much more.

There are numerous benefits to
Pilates and they can all be realised in a mat class – you don’t need to use the
larger apparatus to see results.

Mat classes can vary in difficulty
or focus. For example, you can have a class using a BOSU ball and toning
weights to target your core muscles 
while providing a cardiovascular component and leg strengthening – think
running,  jumping or squatting on a BOSU

You can design a mat class to focus
more on the stretch element and incorporate gentle core exercises for people with
back issues. Class design options are unlimited.

Another great benefit of Pilates is
the ability to enhance athletic performance. More and more professional and
amateur athletes are turning to Pilates for the core strength, increased
flexibility and greater body awareness required to give them the upper edge.

By using stability, medicine or
BOSU balls, you can really give your core a major challenge while incorporating
all the principles of Pilates.

By incorporating smaller pieces of
equipment in a Pilates mat class you can challenge your body in different and
creative ways. The possibilities are endless!

Deanna Smith is an exercise physiologist and Pilates instructor at
Energy. She can be contacted at
[email protected] or 946- 6006.