Pilates has been around for years; how its popularity has increased participation for fitness-related results


What is it about pilates that has so many people in a fuss? Pilates seems to have become a popular exercise when it burst upon the scene 10 years ago. Considered a workout of the elite for decades, the fitness mainstream has opened its arms to Pilates. So why did Pilates become such an overnight success and how did it really begin?

Well, different fitness exercises started thousands of years ago just like swimming, tai chi and yoga. But, as with Pilates, the beginning is much clearer. Pilates was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. He created this as a source of rehabilitation. Military soldiers first took advantage of Pilates when returning from war. Others, including dancers, used Pilates to strengthen and heal their bodies.

The basic tenets that Joseph Pilates laid down for his Pilates exercises have been preserved and are used to this day (with some modifications). Basically, it is true to its origins.

Pilates or the method of Pilates is a system of exercise that helps with body awareness, flexibility and building strength, though not necessarily building bulk.

Pilates created controlled movements that people maintain on top of a specially designed exercise apparatus or on the floor (mat work) also. These sessions are supervised by Pilates trainers. Pilates is a resistance exercise. It is not considered cardiovascular exercise, however, the heart rate does rise. Pilates is more akin to biking, jogging and weight lifting.

There are two strong elements to Pilates:

• Core muscle strength
• Spinal alignment

For building core muscle strength, there are the abdomen, hips, pelvis and spine that support the muscles.
Some core muscles include:

• erector spinae (located along the spine)
• hip flexors (pelvis and upper leg)
• internal/external obliques (sides of the abdomen)
• rectus abdominis (abs)
• transverse abdominis (located in the gut)

During Pilates training, the trainer will prompt you to work your core muscles and have correct breathing styles. What matters are the contractions of the muscles and movement quality. The form is very important here. Your trainer should also emphasize these key elements of Pilates during every session.

Practitioners of Pilates say the method has reached almost a cult-like status. There are several proven benefits from Pilates workouts. It helps strengthen and tone muscles, improves flexibility and presents the person training with a challenging and fun experience. The workout is intense because the movements have to be controlled, deliberate and slow. Pilates works well for:

• people looking for an alternative or complement for weigh training;
• need resistance exercise sessions that are supervised;
• change of pace, or something new;

There have been a variety of studies on Pilates mat exercises and researchers found that on average a person weighing 165 pounds can burn approximately 480 calories per hour during an advanced Pilates workout. This is comparable to walking almost five miles. For intermediate workouts, 390 calories per hour were burned and 276 for lighter Pilates workouts. But in reality, calories are different for each individual. The effects of the Pilates workouts can be determined according to skill level and intensity, as well as particular exercise movements being performed. Both advanced and intermediate workouts provided for sufficient intensity helping provide health fitness benefits.

Learn about classes that include the roll down, side rolls, the tabletop and the dart. There are also free membership passes with many gyms so you can tryPilates classes.

Pilates objectives are mind, body and spirit coordination. This is something that Joseph Pilates referred to as contrology. There were 34 original exercises according to the first book published on Pilates in 1945. Contrologyhas guiding principles as well.