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Power of Pilates

Pilates emerged in the early 2000’s as the hottest new workout trend thing used by celebrities to shape their body to perfection. Today, it is a well-known concept with countless branches and variations. So what is Pilates exactly? Pilates resemblances yoga in many ways (especially Iyengar); although it lacks the spiritual element and places heavy emphasis on strengthening the body’s core, and a bit less on flexibility. The workout form overall is very balanced, and aims to develop numerous components that are essential to a well-rounded, functional physique; including strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, coordination, balance and good posture. Pilates is based on a solid set of principles:
  • Breathing – slow and controlled breathing is stressed as one of the most vital components to Pilates, as it deliver fresh oxygen to the entire body and helps facilitate things like control, attention, movement and strength.
  • Centering – in Pilates, the focal point of each exercise is the core; which includes your abdominals, lower back, hips and buttocks. These parts are used to coordinate all movements in Pilates, and the goal is to constantly strengthen this area by various core focused exercises.
  • Mind Over Matter – one is encouraged to pay close attention to each movement; as a means to improve form, maximize bodily strength and reduce weaknesses. Basically, the idea is to stay fully connected to your body through conscious, directed focus.
  • Concentration – this notion ties into the foregoing principle, as it stresses the ability to concentrate on each body part, muscle, and movement the entire time. This task is surprisingly difficult for many people; especially those who are used to high-paced workouts with loud music, or distractions like a crowded gym. It is worth the effort though – once you learn to control your mind to be in the moment with your body, you will notice the immense benefits not only in regard to form, but to overall physical and mental awareness.
  • Control – once you have mastered your mind, you will proceed to perfect your muscle control. This means that each movement is broken down into miniscule elements like finger and toe position, wrist and leg rotation, and lower back arching. This sort of conscious control enhances the positive impact of each exercise, and eventually corrects subconscious patterns in your body that may have previously caused pain or injury.
  • Precision – this is one of the most fundamental elements to Pilates and comes naturally as a result of the above principles. In Pilates, the trainee is required to perform each and every movement precisely as prescribed; without skipping any steps or compromising form. For this reason, the curriculum of a legit Pilates certification program is heavily focused on anatomy and subsequently, correct technique.
Pilates is ideal as a rehabilitation tool since it presents a much lower risk for injury than many other forms of exercise. Form is more important than burn, hence it may not suit those who are looking for a more energetic workout form. However; even if you aren’t a die-hard Pilates fan, you can still reap a wealth of benefits by incorporating a few simple exercises into your workout regimen! Below are 10 Powerful Pilates Moves to strengthen your body and improve your posture: The Hundred
  • Lie in a supine position on a mat with your legs in a tabletop position. Your shins and ankles should be parallel to the floor. Inhale.
  • Exhale and bring your head up, while tucking your chin. Using your abdominal muscles, curl your upper spine. Your upper body should be lifted just above the base of your shoulder blades. Keep your shoulders down and engaged in the back. Look toward your navel and stay in this position as you inhale.
  • As you exhale, contract your abs and extend your arms and legs straight out. Raise your legs slightly to make it easier, or lower them for a more advanced workout. Your lower spine should not lift off of the mat, and your legs shouldn’t shake – if any of those things occur, adjust the level of your legs until you can hold the pose still.
  • With your arms and hands extended a few inches off the floor, begin pumping your arms up and down while taking short breaths of five. Five in, five out. Do this in 10 cycles until you’ve reached 100.
Roll Up
  • Lie on a mat with your legs extended straight out, pushing your upper thighs and knees together. Relax your shoulders.
  • With your palms up, reach your arms overhead and let them rest on the mat behind you, fingertips pointing toward the back wall.
  • Inhale and press your shoulder blades into the floor, reaching your arms back up over your head. As your biceps pass your ears, drop your chin and curl your torso up.
  • Exhale and stretch all the way forward toward your toes; pulling in your abs and curving your spine to come up.
  • With your head tucked, try to reach your toes with your fingertips.
  • Squeeze your buttocks, tuck your tailbone, and pull your abs in, as you inhale and slowly begin to roll back down; one vertebrae at a time.
  • When you are halfway down to the floor, exhale and lower your shoulders to the mat. Raise your arms back overhead and then lower your head and arms to the floor.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Single-leg Circles
  • Lie on your mat with a flat back and arms by your sides. Keep one leg straight with a flexed foot, and the other pointing straight up.
  • Begin circling the pointed leg across your body, down and around while maintaining a stationary pelvis. Circle around five times and then reverse the direction.
  • When you have made a total of ten circles, switch to the other leg. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.
Single-leg Stretch
  • Lie on your mat with your legs extended in front of you, resting your arms along your sides and your palms facing the floor. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and drop your belly.
  • Inhale and pull your navel toward your spine, and then tuck your chin into your chest while bending your right knee.
  • Pull your knee in toward your chest and place your right hand on the outside of your right ankle.
  • Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee, making sure your left leg is fully extended with pointed toes. Raise your left heel approximately two inches off the floor.
  • Exhale and switch hand and leg positions. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.
Spine Stretch
  • Sit tall on your mat with a straight spine and even pelvis, holding your legs out in front of you at shoulder width. Flex your feet.
  • Reach your arms forward so they are parallel to the mat with palms facing the floor.
  • Exhale and slowly roll forward by curling your spine and pulling your abs in. Make sure your arms stay parallel to the floor!
  • Inhale and slowly roll up, vertebrae by vertebrae, until you have returned to the original position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Mermaid Side Bend
  • Sit cross legged on your mat and lengthen your neck, almost as if you were reaching the ceiling with the top of your head. Inhale.
  • Exhale and reach one arm overhead, reaching to the other side. For extra support, rest your opposite arm on the floor in line with your hip.
  • Inhale and fill your lungs as much as you can, imagining that you are expanding and opening up your ribcage. Press down through your opposite hip and make sure your pelvis is firm into the mat and evenly distributed on both sides.
  • Exhale and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.
Sidekick
  • Lie on your side, holding your legs slightly in front of your body and a bit turned out.
  • Bend and prop up your elbow on the floor to rest your head on your bottom hand.
  • Your top arm should be bent with the palm planted into the floor for support.
  • Inhale and flex your foot, kicking your top leg straight out in front of you. Pull in your navel, squeeze your buttocks, and pulse your leg once.
  • Exhale and kick your leg behind you, pointing the foot at the same level as your hip. Pull in your navel, squeeze your buttocks, and pulse your leg once.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.
Criss Cross
  • Lie on your mat in a supine position with a neutral spine.
  • Bend your knees and lift your shins so they are even with the floor.
  • Keeping your elbows wide, place your hands behind you to support the back of your head.
  • Exhale and pull your navel into your spine without tucking or tilting your pelvis, then curl the chin and shoulders off the mat. Stop at the base of your shoulder blades.
  • Inhale and slowly lower yourself back down, vertebrae by vertebrae.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.