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Work it to the Core - The Pilates Body

Updated on June 2, 2011

For some people, their exercise routine concentrates mainly on building muscle. For others, their goal may be to increase strength, improve balance, flexibility and stamina. If the latter is your goal, then working your core muscles should be your primary focus.

By creating a strong, stable base for your core muscles, you will also be optimizing the flexibility and strength of each limb. This will greatly improve the effectiveness of your body’s movement and can lead to a more healthful life.

The core is important to our overall well-being; we use it for everything we do. Whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, playing with the kids or working out at the gym, our core is literally the center or powerhouse of our activity. That’s why it’s important to take care of our body with regular exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of water and rest. Many weight loss plans can greatly benefit from the addition of Pilates exercises.

Pilates Exercise

Pilates Exercises
Pilates Exercises

The core is the midsection of your body, from your shoulders to your groin. The core includes the abs, pelvis, back and chest muscles. While our limbs provide mobility, reach and strength, it’s our core that gives us stability, flexibility and the balance needed for most activities. Every movement originates in the core, so if the core isn’t strong, it will limit your physical abilities.

Pilates helps people of all ages and fitness levels overcome a variety of aches and pains, allowing them to enjoy everyday activities. Pilates’ focus on the core, good posture and proper alignment is a natural carryover into everyday life. Many of the Pilates exercises use the body as its own source of resistance. Proper breathing and slow, controlled movements allow you to isolate and strengthen the core muscles.

Pilates Exercises

Pilates Exercise
Pilates Exercise

Stott Pilates is a contemporary approach to the original Pilates method which was pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates. The co-founders of the Stott method, Moira and Lindsay Merrithew, with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, have spent over two decades refining the Stott Pilates method.

Stott Pilates incorporates modern exercise principles, including the contemporary thinking in regards to rehabilitation and the enhancement of athletic performance. For example, while some fitness methods may promote a flat back, Stott Pilates exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the surrounding muscles and joints. There are also a large variety of preparatory exercises and many modifications so, just about anyone will benefit from Stott Pilates, regardless of fitness level, age or ability.

Pilates Workout

Pilates Workout
Pilates Workout

Core Training for the Athlete

There are many exercise methods that work the core muscles. It’s not unusual for professional coaches and personal trainers to create customized routines to enhance an athlete’s abilities by developing and strengthening their core muscles. There are also many programs designed for individuals who want to incorporate core strengthening into their fitness routine. Pilates based exercises help improve performance, reduce injury and relieve stress. Pilates can also help you lose weight fast.

Pilates focuses on rebalancing your muscles, improving alignment and flexibility. Pilates also emphasizes strengthening the core muscles which contributes to the body-mind awareness as a whole. Whether you choose Stott Pilates, Winsor Pilates or the original Pilates Method, you’ll gain strength, flexibility and poise.

Stott Pilates exercises improve core strength and balance the muscles, improving the way your body functions, moves, looks and feels. The Five Basic Principles that form the basis of the Stott Pilates method are: breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement, and head & cervical spine placement. In rehabilitation, core strength is crucial to help reduce pain, restore movement and eventually returning to daily activities.

Pilates is being used by professional hockey players, Olympic athletes and extreme sports enthusiasts because it helps increase joint stability and strengthens the deep core muscles. This helps prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.

Benefits of Core Training

Pilates helps build strong, healthy muscles while improving blood flow. It works your body from the inside and out for maximum conditioning and is ideal for anyone wanting to enhance their exercise program.

Pilates helps develop kinesthetic awareness of the body. It focuses on good posture and alignment which reduces unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints. Specific strengthening exercises also help to balance the muscles around a joint and balance pairs of muscles from side to side.

It’s a Core Thing

Strengthening the core is important for every day activities. Over the past two decades, Pilates has been refined to meet the demands of today’s fitness needs. When all the muscles work together in a coordinated fashion, you can gain significantly more strength, skill, coordination and biomechanical efficiency.

Good core strength is important at every age and fitness level. An excellent workout that incorporates the core conditioning of Pilates with elements of yoga is The Bar Method. This is a series of 2 DVDs, The Bar Method Designer Sculpting and The Bar Method Fat Free; both will give you the strong core muscles with the long, toned muscles often associated with a dancer. Whatever your goals, find a way to incorporate body core conditioning into your routine and you’ll find it reduces fatigue and improves strength and mobility. You’ll reap the benefits every day!


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