Pilates... there's been buzz, hype, late night infomercials about it and more, so why is there such a following for Pilates and why hasn't it faded out like many other exercise fads?
Because Pilates works. It gets great results, it's fun, you can feel it working, it's challenging, and not to mention the celebrity endorsements from Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sienna Miller, Jessica Alba, Jen Hawkins and Gisele Bunchen just to name a few. These inspirational women swear by daily Pilates workouts so they must be onto something, right?
Pilates tones, strengthens and stretches the muscles giving an amazing all over physical appearance. Pilates really flattens the abs and firms and lifts the buttocks giving your body a whole new look.
When 'getting into' or trying Pilates you may have to shop around to find a class that you like. You must first know what you want from a class so you enjoy your Pilates experience and stick with it, for as like all forms of exercise, the more often you do it the better the results.
It's important to realise you can do Pilates using your bodyweight on a mat in a large group or class environment, this is the most common and what most people know as Pilates, and is called matwork or a matwork class. A mat class is great for ease of access and availability, as most gyms offer a few mat classes on their group fitness timetables.
You can also do Pilates in a studio environment using traditional spring resisted Pilates equipment, most of which date back to the 1940s. A Pilates studio is where the magic really happens. In most Pilates studios you can essentially do 'Pilates personal training' where an instructor will take you through a customised workout designed to target problem areas for your body in a one-to-one or a small group format.
The Pilates studio experience can be quite different and a major benefit is that it's usually out of the normal gym environment making it more appealing to many people who are uncomfortable in that environment. When entering a Pilates studio you may be intimidated by the machines as they're very different from the norm, and with names like reformer, trapeze table, wunda chair and spine corrector you could be forgiven for thinking you have entered a medieval torture chamber.
Lose the fear and try a Pilates studio workout or two, you will find the machines target areas of your body you never even thought you had as well as all of those problem areas that you just can't get to at the gym. After a hard inner thigh workout you might even find yourself walking like a cowboy for a day or two, but man does it feel good!
It's a bit of a myth that Pilates is just for women, in America alone there is over 11 million regular Pilates class and studio participants and a lot of those are men. For the most recent James bond flick Daniel Craig was quoted to have skipped the gym and chosen Pilates as his main form of building lean muscle and sculpting his body.
Pilates studio practitioners are usually well trained and have in depth knowledge of injuries and with literally hundreds of exercises in the Pilates repertoire there is sure to be ones that you can do without flaring up any old or new injuries. This is a great benefit of working out in a studio as opposed to a mat class, and if you are under the supervision of a skilled instructor it enables you to still tone your body and help to prevent further injury flare ups.
For some people, a Pilates studio workout is sadly still out of reach for either time, financial or accessibility issues. Not to worry though as there are many products out on the market designed to either compliment or replace your studio or even mat class workouts and enable you to work out from the comfort of your own home as often as you like.
Studio Pilates International® have a great range of Pilates workout DVDs and have also developed the world's first Personal Pilates Studio. The Personal Pilates Studio essentially brings the Pilates studio into your home or you can take it with you when you travel. It's light and compact and enables a full all over body toning workout by attaching it to any closed door. It's made up of two specifically engineered Pilates springs giving you exactly what it says - your own Personal Pilates studio in the luxury of your own home.