Top 5 Benefits of Pilates

Pilates has been made known around the globe because of the many benefits it can bring. Regardless of your age or activity level, you can always begin the practice of Pilates. It is not the typical exercise that most of us have imagine, it can be varied to achieve your goals whether they be tone, weight loss, improve strength, improve posture, gain joint stability or increase flexibility. Pilates can accommodate you.

With the many things we can get out of this impressive exercise, below is a summary of a few of these great benefits. Here are top five of them.

• Pilates strengthens the core of our bodies. Our core is composed of the muscles found at the back, tummy and hips Pilates can help you become steady and strong.

• This exercise can help improve posture. People who have back problems will definitely find it relieving when practicing Pilates because it helps lengthen the spine thus providing a strong foundation for you whether you are sitting or standing. Perhaps the reason why this exercise provides relief for people with aching backs is because it relieves pressure or compression in along the spine.

• It improves your mental and physical connection. What makes this exercise stand out. Because of the precision required to perform the exercises properly it involves the mind and body. When we gain control of our mind we better able to control our body and when these two collaborate, things are much easier to do in our daily tasks.

• Pilates creates long, toned muscles through exercises that teach you how to lengthen your body as you move through controlled exercises.

• Pilates is the type of exercise that will make you become more efficient with your body. This basically means you can do things without having to worry about pain and with less of a chance of injury.

These are just a few of the many benefits of Pilates. Because it is the type of exercise program that involves low impact workout, whatever activity level you have, you do not have to worry about joint and muscle pain after a pilates session. This is why both young and old are encouraged practice pilats.


The Pilates Reformer

Pilates has become is continues to be a craze in health and fitness, and for good reason. The benefits include increased strength, balance and speed. As well as increasing core strength and decreasing back and neck pain. The most common piece of equipment used in Pilates is the Pilates reformer.

The pilates reformer was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 1920’s as a way to help rehabilitate injured soldiers in hospital. He would connect springs and ropes to the beds, and soldiers would exercises while they were injured, speeding up their recovery.

The Pilates reformer is basically a padded platform on rails that is connected to a series of springs for resistance. You lie on your back on the platform, and perform leg exercises using the bar and the straps. Arm exercises are performed using ropes and pulleys while sitting or kneeling on the platform.

The Pilates reformer is versatile. There are literally hundreds of arm, leg, lower back and abdominal exercises that can be performed on them. It is advisable to work with a certified pilates instructor to learn how to properly perform exercises on the pilates reformer. Some of the exercises are challenging and if not performed correctly may lead to injury.

There are many benefits for using the reform. The first being improved posture. You will learn how to strengthen and engage the muscles required for the perfect sitting and standing posture. This is vital for anyone with a computer or clerical job. The next benefit is improved core abdominal strength. This will help prevent back pain, or ease pain if you already have problems with your lower back. You will burn fat and speed up your metabolism and generally you will have more energy and feel better throughout the day.

Since the reformer came on the market, additional Pilate’s equipment has been developed to further increase the challenges of Pilates exercises. They include the Pilates Cadillac, chair and barrel. Many Pilate’s studies incorporate all four in the Pilates workouts.

If you are a fan of Pilates and want to challenge you body further, the Pilates reformer is for you. It will be the perfect progression from you current mat routine.

The Magic Circle

STOTT Pilates teaches students to move through exercises with control and precision. STOTT Pilates is built on foundational principles and techniques to improve posture and perfect the balancing of muscles.

Once you have learned the fundamentals, you might feel the need for a challenge, one which will not strain your muscles, but will enrich the your workouts Stott Pilates.

One way to kick it up a notch is with the Stott Pilates fitness circle. Also called as the magic circle or exercise rings, this fitness circle is developed to assist you improve your fitness through light resistance exercises. These circles increase tone in your arms, hips and thighs.

The circle can be used on the mat or with STOTT pilates apparatus. Talk to your STOTT Pilates instructor about incorporating this amazing tool in your workouts.

The Six Principles of Pilates

Pilates focuses on six basic principles that aim for a holistic mind-body awareness, balance and improvement. Here are the core foundation based on Joseph Pilates’ philosophy of the Art of Contrology:

Focuses on the body’s center/ core – between the lower ribs and pubic bone

Brings full attention to each movement

Maintains complete muscular control in every movement

Sustains awareness throughout each movement to keep proper placement and alignment of body parts

Uses full, well-coordinated breathing while doing the exercises

Keeps a fluid, graceful and even manner in each movement

If you want to achieve a stronger, longer, leaner, more flexible, and a more balanced body – without straining your muscles, then join a Pilates class for your holistic development.

Definition and Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is a non-aerobic exercise, so your muscles are not worked into exhaustion. There’s no straining, all that’s needed is intense concentration. It intends to lengthen and stretch all major muscle groups of the body in a balanced manner, through rhythm and breathing patterns. It’s an individualized exercise specializing on each person’s specific needs; so it benefits everybody – athletes, pregnant women, people with low fitness levels, and those with limited mobility.

Benefits of Pilates

More and more people are turning to Pilates workouts because of its positive and holistic results. Here are the key benefits from pilates:

• Develops core strength
• Improves muscle strength, balance and tone
• Increases flexibility
• Improves posture
• Rehabilitates or prevents muscle-related injuries
• Increases lung capacity and circulation
• Improves concentration
• Increases body-mind awareness
• Improves stress management and relaxation
• Provides a whole-body fitness training, which includes breathing and concentration
• Increases energy
• Promotes weight loss and a toned appearance


Tune- In to Your Workouts

Health improvement can mean many things to people. For many it is centered around wellness, whether it’s for a better physical body, mental body, whether it incorporates diet or stress management. The larger pictures is about staying healthy and always striving to live a healthier life.

Fitness and exercise should be on the top of everyone’s list of health improvement. Performing daily exercises and maintaining an active lifestyle is key to enjoying good health. Developing functional movement habits is essential to keep you muscles strong, safe, and injury-free while striving to achieve added strength, flexibility, and overall fitness.

The only aspect of fitness you should be aware of is the “tuning-out” during your workouts. Headphones, TV, Kindles, and I Pads are frequently used while working out. And you should be tuning in to what your body is doing. The body will do the work out on auto-pilot because you are too busy singing along with your favorite tune to give yourself clear instructions and pay attention to be sure they are being executed correctly. To really get maximum benefits from your workouts, tune-in. Start with the mind/ body workouts such as yoga and pilates. Then challenge yourself to tune in during strength training/ plyometric workouts. And if you really want a challenge tune in while doing cardio.

It takes brain-power to tell the body what to do and how to move well. This is the art of “tuning-in” You can get faster, better results if you are aware of what you’re body is doing. You will also have the chance while you’re working out to evaluate whether you are doing things right or not, which can help decrease your risk of injury and develop more efficient functional movements for improved health.

This attention to detail one of the primary reasons that Pilates and other mind-body workout programs are so beneficial. Having to focus on what you are doing every single second of your workout, you will become more aware of how things feel, what muscles are really working (or aren’t working), how easy or difficult the challenges are, and can really be conscious of your body’s posture while moving. And what about paying attention to your breath? There are so many details to pay attention to.

If you’ve been exercising regularly and aren’t getting the results you want from your fitness program, first re-evaluate your goals and action plan. Then check in with your exercise routine, and “tune-in” to what you’re doing during your workouts. You might also find it helpful to work with a certified STOTT pilates instructor to help you identify things that can be fine-tuned to improve your posture, body alignment and exercise technique for maximum benefits from your fitness program.

Core Strength: The Core Foundation in a Pilates Workout

The Christmas holidays bring in more than just excitement. With so many festive parties this season, we are all eating more ‘naughty’ foods and drinking more alcohol than we usually do. It’s no wonder that so many people gain extra weight during Christmas. But you can keep your core tight this holiday season with a little core training through Pilates workouts.

International celebrities love Pilates because it works the “core” muscles with a series of slow, controlled movements. STOTT Pilates instructors guide you through these precise movements helping you to achieve maximum benefits.
So who loves these amazing Pilates benefits? The secret to Pippa Middleton’s perfect figure – lean, long body and a sough to after bottom – is a weekly Pilates session. Kate Winslet says no matter how busy her schedule is she always squeezes in at least 20 minutes of Pilates every day. David Beckham was introduced to Pilates while he was with AC Milan in 2009, and he has been in the best shape he ever has been since he started doing a one-hour daily routine.

If you’re interested in looking good, feeling great and living healthy, contact a STOTT Pilates instructor.


Methods for Enhancing the Side Leg Exercises

One of the most difficult challenges when doing the Pilates mat work side leg series exercises is keeping the body completely still while swinging the leg. Many of the Pilates Mat exercises that are done before you get to the side leg series will help you prepare to lie balanced on your side and still be able to hold a solid position.

Here are 5 things you can practice to help keep your body still and improve the free swing of your leg on all of the hip and leg exercises in this series:

1. Practice the side leg series exercises with your back pressed against a wall. Make an effort to keep everything from the top of your head to your waist against the wall while moving your leg for through little circles, front and back lifts.

2. Maintain your eye focus straight ahead. There’s a tendency to want to look at the legs move. Whenever you are look at your legs, it shifts your head, neck, and torso position out of tall posture. Keep looking straight ahead and maintain a tall/long body position. Try to “feel” what’s happening in your body, instead of watch your leg move while you’re working.

3. Keep an active pelvic floor. Particularly the pubic bone to tailbone connection. The entire torso should be aligned along the back edge of the mat this means a slight arch/neutral pelvis position. This will actually make it easier to hold the pelvis still while moving the leg. Be sure that you tailbone is not swinging forward and back with your leg.

4. Use your abs to slightly lift and support the side of your abdomen that Is closest to the ground. When you’re lying on your right side, the right side of your abs pulling up and in. You should be able to place your hand between your lifted abs and the mat.

5. Keep strong shoulder depression. Keep the shoulders stacked vertically, and actively pull the left shoulder downward. This keeps the shoulders still, and provides a well-balanced anchor so that the hips and legs can lengthen away from the center for a better leg swing.

Shoulder Stability

Have You Ever Experienced A Painful Arm or Shoulder Injury? Do You Carry Tension or Stress in Your Neck and Upper Back?

It’s no surprise that a lot of people these days are dealing with this, or several of these shoulder problems. To hold our vertical human posture we have a couple of options – excellent core support and good posture, or the reliance on our deltoids, upper traps, and shoulders to support us.

Consider this … Your posture will either be similar to a coat on a hook (shoulders up), or a circus tent with a tall pole up the middle and the corners sloping down (abdominal support & relaxed shoulders.. Coat on a hook posture habits will create a great deal of neck and shoulder pressure. You might experience frequent headaches, or find yourself more susceptible to shoulder strains and rotator cuff issues.

On the bright side, things can change fairly quickly with the right body awareness, good shoulder mechanics, and improving core support & posture.

To start, the most essential tip for strong, healthy shoulders is to strengthen your core.

The more powerful your abs and back are, the more it will help keep you sitting and standing with tall posture. With a strong core your shoulders can loosen up. However simply relaxing the shoulders sometimes may not be enough. Active muscle work to pull the shoulders down away from your ears and is often necessary.

An easy cue to remember for strengthening the lower trapezius muscle (the part of the Trapezius muscle that assist in pulling the shoulders down) is “Diamond Down.”

The Trapezius muscle is the broad diamond shaped muscle which includes fibers functioning in three distinctive directions. The top fibers elevate the shoulders. Middle fibers aid in pulling the shoulder blades together, and the lower fibers pull the shoulder blades down.

In most cases, the most basic and most important action for shoulder foundation and balance would be the downward action of your Trapezius, thus my cue of “Diamond Down” in preparation to attempt any exercise that consists of using the shoulders and arms.

Advantages of Conditioning the Lower Trapezius Muscle with “Diamond Down”

• It offers counter-leverage essential to elongate and open joint space for your upper thoracic spine, head and neck, resulting in improved alignment and upper spine mobility.

• It puts the shoulder joint at a more optimal position for movement of your shoulder and arm during workout. Greater movement increases strength and flexibility and minimizes injury risks.

Tips for Practicing “Diamond Down”

1. Begin standing with good posture and core support. The upper back needs to be to curved for normal posture to ensure that the shoulder blades can lay level on the back. Just allow the your arms to hang by the sides.

2. Breathe in into the back to lift the ribcage and lengthen the spine, exhale and from the bottom tips of the shoulder blades and draw the “Diamond Down” gently pulling the shoulder blades down towards the back of your waist.

3. Perform your “Diamond Down” exercise 3-5 times as a warm-up exercise before your workouts.

4. Initiate every arm and shoulder exercise with the “Diamond Down” action first.

5. Or do this as a stand-alone shoulder strengthening exercise throughout the day to call remind yourself to keep your shoulders away from your ears.

What To Watch For:

• Make sure that when the shoulder blades pull down they stay flat against the ribcage. Be sure the shoulder blades don’t pinch together.

• Watch your posture, allow the blades to move, and keep the rest of the body still.

• Make sure the lower abdominals are engaged for core support and remain lifted while you draw your “Diamond” down.

Get More Out of Your Core:

Great Pilates workout techniques results in a healthy body. If one has a poor, weak core, odds are the shoulders are likely hiked up around your ears. With stronger core muscles it’s quicker and easier to improve shoulder mechanics, decrease joint pain, and get the maximum benefits from your Pilates workouts.

Focus on core strengthening exercises for your abdominals and back, in addition to practicing your “Diamond Down” shoulder blade cue and you’ll be well on your way to acquiring strong and healthy shoulders with every workout routine you do.


Upper Body Movement

Think about how you started learning the hundred. With your pilates instructor focus on improving articulation of the upper back for the Roll Up, Teaser and Neck Pull – These are not easy exercises for most beginners and even for some intermediate level Pilates clients.

If you begin to focus on how you execute these exercises, is your movement smooth, sequential articulation of the spine – in which case the exercises are easy. Or does your head lead meaning the likely place the body bends next is at the waist. When this happens, the upper body is moving as a “chunk.” Instead of the chest and upper back muscles releasing to allow the breastbone soften to help the front of the body bend more.

When the chest muscles are held stiff, smooth movement is restricted thus making it hard to properly engage the abs. This severely affects effective core support.

Here are a couple of fundamental warm-up exercises that can help loosen up the upper body to release the chest and mobilize the upper back. Enhance your ability to bend forward effortlessly and apply these helpful workout tips to all other forward bending Pilates exercises.

1. Standing Breastbone Slide Exercise

Start standing facing a wall and set both hands on the wall in a “push-up” position. Keep proper standing posture and the lower abdominals engaged. Breathe in to stand tall and on exhale, relax the chest to slide the breastbone down along the front of your shirt to bend the upper back forward. The bottom tips of the shoulder blades spread wide to generate room for the breastbone to soften and move the upper spine backwards in between the blades.
Take a deep breath in, then exhale and return to your center. Now work to slide the breast bone up to extend and arch the upper back. Inhale stand tall, exhale pull the shoulders down and start sliding the breast bone up and forward. As the breastbone moves forward, the upper back moves forward towards the breastbone to begin arching the back. Maintain low ab support so the arch is from the mid back up, rather than in the low back.
Continue alternating between the breastbone sliding downward and the upper back moving into flexion, and the breastbone sliding up and forward as the spine moves into extension.

What to Watch For:

•Keep the elbows straight and feel the breast bone and upper back bones move to alternate between flexion and extension.
•Let the eye focus change. Look down and forward when sliding the breast bone down. Look straight ahead for tall posture, and focus out and up to slide the breastbone up as you arch.
•Maintain low ab support so the mobility increases in the upper back and doesn’t place undue stress on the low back.

2. Expand and Contract the Ribcage (rise and fall)

When breathing in, the entire ribcage should fill with air, and the ribs separate. On your exhale, the ribs need to release and come closer together. This rise and fall of the ribcage creates and allows pliability, mobility, and flexibility through the entire chest.

With expansion and contraction of the ribcage the inhale needs to fill the ribcage from the bottom to the top. The exhale needs to empty the lungs from the top to the bottom. Put effort on the exhale to discover and feel the top ribs (right underneath the collar bones and below the armpits) soften or actively come closer together. A lot of people expand the ribcage under the armpits and up to the upper chest, but don’t release these muscles upon exhaling.

Learning to lengthen the spine and improve the rise and fall of the ribcage assists placing the back in a better position to articulate well while peeling the spine up off the mat to curl up or bend the back for any exercise.

For a tactile technique: Place your hands on your ribs up under the armpits and feel the ribcage move. It expands to inhale. Then starting from your armpits feel it the ribs release to exhale.

3. Standing Roll Down on the Wall

Stand with the entire back against the wall. The feet can be together or hip-width apart and placed out in front of the body as far as needed to help make it easier to keep the abs working and back against the wall.

The entire spine from the tailbone to the head starts firmly pressed to the wall, maintain core support throughout the exercise to keep the lower back firmly against the wall. Arms and shoulders remain hanging and relaxed throughout the exercise.

Inhale to stand tall, on the exhale nod the chin forward to look at the chest. Continue inhaling and exhaling to bend forward. Soften and relax the chest while you watch the breastbone slide down the front of the shirt, and feel it move backwards towards the wall between the shoulder blades while the back bends forward. Continue breathing steadily and forward bending peeling the back one segment at a time off the wall to the bottom of the shoulder blades. Lower abs stay engaged.

Inhale and exhale to roll back up to a tall standing position one segment at a time. The breastbone slides up as the shoulders pull down to return to a tall standing position with the back against the wall. Keep your core working.

Helpful Hints to Maximize Movement of the Upper Back on this Exercise:

• The chest muscles have to relax to allow the breastbone and front ribs to release. Then every rib from the top of the ribcage to the bottom of the breastbone should rotate and drop backwards underneath the collarbones and ribs above to efficiently deepen the forward flexion.

• Get help from your instructor, they can lightly place their hands on the front ribs to support find the movement.

• Practicing by yourself – place your hands on your breastbone to cue and feel it release, soften and slide down and back while you’re bending forward.

• The breastbone slides down and back between the shoulder blades while the rib cage turns from the top to the bottom rotate to bend forward.

By incorporating these 3 fundamental exercises into your workout routine, you can improve body awareness and improve the release of the chest to help mobility and function of the ribs, breastbone, and upper back movement. Then take these new movement habits back to all of the Pilates exercises you practice that need a forward bend.