The benefits of Pilates
with advice from Kim Gladfelter, PT, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
For years now, Pilates has been touted by people ranging from health experts to celebrities, singing praises of how it sculpts the body without the bulk of weight lifting. But there are many benefits beyond that toned behind; here are a few reasons you should consider trying a Pilates class.
- Pilates is three-dimensional, working the entire body.
Kim Gladfelter, a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network clinic in California), is a certified Pilates instructor. Kim notes, “Pilates is an overall body fitness system that addresses imbalances, core control, strength, flexibility, movement efficiency and balance.” Because it is low-impact and works multiple muscle groups at the same time, Kim’s clinic not only offers Pilates classes to the public through their wellness center, but they also incorporate Pilates into their physical therapy and post-rehabilitation programs.
- Pilates balances strength with flexibility, helping to reduce the chance of injury.
Unlike weight training, which works muscles individually, Pilates exercises force muscles to work together, rebalancing the muscles and making them work more efficiently. Combined with the Pilates focus on core stability, strengthening both the core and the back, the workout helps to prevent injury and improve athletic ability — this is why so many athletes use Pilates as a part of their fitness regimen, says Lindsay Merrithew, President and CEO of Merrithew Health & Fitness™, the parent company of STOTT PILATES®, a Physiquality partner.
- Pilates is easy to adapt for a variety of fitness levels.
Those that question whether older clients or beginners can take a Pilates class need only look at the reason Joseph Pilates created his exercises: He developed his original exercises after World War I, to help prisoners of war, weakened by years of incarceration, regain strength and mobility. Certified instructors learn a variety of ways to adapt Pilates exercises to the needs of their clients, allowing classes and private lessons to be adjusted for a variety of different body types and abilities.
People that incorporate Pilates into their exercise routine can see a variety of benefits, including:
- Longer, leaner muscles
- Improved posture
- Increased core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
- Enhanced functional fitness and ease of movement
- Balanced strength and flexibility
- Heightened body awareness
- Better balance, coordination and circulation
Pilates classes come in two types: mat classes, and classes on apparatus or the reformer. Mat classes are usually less expensive and use the weight of your body to challenge the core. Apparatus work, on the other hand, has more whole body and alignment work in it. Kim explains, “The equipment can assist or destabilize the movement environment to perfectly match the abilities of the student to their challenge point, maintaining good form.”
In either case, Kim advises private sessions with an instructor to start learning Pilates exercises. She says, “This allows the instructor to individualize the exercises to meet the needs of the client and to apply modifications as necessary. This also allows the client to develop a successful groundwork for effectively practicing a Pilates program.” To find a studio that offers such instruction, see if there’s a STOTT PILATES® location near you, or contact the Physiquality locations in your community to find out if they offer Pilates classes or similar fitness programs.
||Kim Gladfelter, PT, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, is a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy in Los Altos, Calif, a Physiquality member. A certified Pilates instructor and dancer, she has expanded her clinic’s facility to be a complete wellness location, offering classes in Pilates, gyrotonics and suspension training, as well as special programs for golfers and senior citizens.
||Lindsay G. Merrithew has been the driving force behind the growth of The Merrithew Health & Fitness Group and its premium brands STOTT PILATES® (one of Physiquality’s partner programs), ZEN•GA™ and CORE™ Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training™. He has been instrumental in designing, producing and marketing the company’s extensive equipment and video lines. To date, he has developed dozens of commercial products and has executive produced over 155 fitness DVDs for the professional and consumer markets.
For further information, look through our selection of articles on Pilates, in addition to the below links:
Brown, Kerrie Lee. Being active for life. Can Fit Pro, January/February 2011.
Everything you wanted to know about the STOTT PILATES® method. STOTT PILATES®.
Brown, Kerrie Lee. Pilates for every exerciser. OnSite Fitness, 2007.
Photography © Merrithew Corporation.