Another similarity to yoga is breathing
control. In Pilates, the person exercising forcible exhales in order to get
maximum draw on the inhale. The forced exhale clears the lungs of carbon
dioxide and gets the maximum amount of oxygen back into the lungs on the
inhale. More oxygen in lungs means more oxygen getting to the cells, a process
Pilates saw as “cleaning and invigorating”.
Pilates exercises themselves strengthen
muscles, increase flexibility, decreases stress levels and improves overall
health. Because the exercises performed are low-impact and relatively safe,
people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.
As much as Pilates is, what it isn’t is:
Because of these limitations, Pilates
should be a supplement to an overall well-rounded fitness program that does include
both strength and cardio training.
The Pilates program is also used by many
physical therapists as part of rehabilitation programs that include recovering
from knee surgery, back problems, hip replacement, as well as managing
scoliosis, arthritis and osteoporosis. There are also specialty programs geared
toward golfers, runners and equestrians. Pilates truly does have something for
Different types of classes are usually
available. While some forms use only an
exercise mat, others forms use or incorporate the use of specialty machines. If
you choose to do Pilates from the comfort of your home, choose a DVD program
that uses just an exercise mat.
If you choose to take classes at a fitness
studio, be prepared to pay around $10 and up for classes – similar to what you
would pay for Zumba, Jazzercise or yoga. Pilates may be included at no
additional cost with some gym memberships.