Pilates is a universally-popular form of exercise that millions of people, per week, use to improve flexibility, balance and core strength. The benefits don’t stop there however as a regular Pilates practice can also do wonders for reducing back pain, helping you improve posture and prevent injury.
As a form of exercise, Pilates has an incredibly rich and fascinating history, but for the short version it was created by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century. During his childhood Joseph suffered terribly from many life-threatening conditions and ultimately what saved him was his commitment to exercise and returning his body to peak physical condition. His lifelong journey saw him create ‘Contrology’ and develop a range of 34 exercises and six guiding principles (concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flow) that are still used to this day. After Joseph’s death in 1967, Contrology simply became known as Pilates.
Over the years there have been several studies about the effectiveness of Pilates, particularly when used to improve balance and flexibility. If you find yourself spending far too long sitting down, both at work or at home (we’re all guilty of it), the following exercises will prove highly beneficial.
What’s great about these exercises is that all you really need is a mat and a little bit of space. You could either incorporate these into an existing exercise routine or use them as a standalone workout:
This exercise is great for developing the core, promoting coordination with the upper and lower body, and mobilizing your hip and shoulder joints.
Take a look at this quick video demonstration to see it in action. If you want to take things to the next level then try and increase the amount of reps you do.
Mastering this exercise can help you improve overall body awareness, balance and control. If also serves as a great way to mobilize the hips and increase flexibility of the hamstrings.
Again we’ve provided a handy demonstration by an experienced instructor so you can make sure you’re doing this exercise correctly and gaining the maximum benefit.
Leg Kick (Single and Double)
Here’s an exercise you can use to really benchmark how you’re progressing. You can start with a single leg kick and then progress to a double leg kick as your flexibility and strength increases.
Both versions of this exercise help with flexibility in the quads, give your core a really good workout, and can help develop muscular strength across your back.
This exercise is a true Pilates classic. While the video demonstration may make it look relatively simple, it’s great for improving flexibility in the spine, hips and shoulder regions. Don’t worry if you’re feeling a tightness in your hamstrings or back, you can easily modify this exercise by sitting on a block.
If you’re interested in learning more about the various benefits of both mat-based and reformer Pilates, or even if you’re interested in becoming an instructor yourself then check out this range of Pilates instructor courses.
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