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What is Pilates? The exercise class everyone is talking about

Pilates offers a range of benefits to the body no matter your fitness background and classes are becoming readily available all over the country. Pilates helps improve posture, body alignment and provides an excellent core workout.

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. The main area of focus is your core, but other body areas are also worked as well.

Pilates can be done with or without equipment and a class will usually last around 45 minutes to an hour. You can expect the moves to include slow, precise movement and breath control.

So, if you are thinking of starting Pilates then here are 7 things you need to know.

  1. There are two different kinds of Pilates classes.
Reformer

The first class available is a mat based class, using a mat thicker than yoga mat designed to cushion pressure points. The other class on offer is a reformer class, in which uses a reformer machine, which is a sliding based platform complete with a stationary foot bar and pulleys to provide resistance.

Its important to know what class you are signing up for, however both do focus on the concept of control, your muscles are working to lift against gravity or against the resistance of the spring on the reformer.

  1. There are more pieces of equipment used.

In reformer classes other pieces of equipment may be used, this is unlikely in a beginner’s class but it’s beneficial to know what equipment may appear.

A very common piece of equipment is a Wunda, a low chair with padding and springs. Other pieces of equipment include the Cadillac, the high chair, the spine corrector and the magic circle.

  1. Be prepared to be sore the next day.

Even though you won’t be lifting heavy weights or doing high-intensity exercises, a Pilates class can be intense. The core-focused movements will get that burning feeling on your abs.

With intense focus on the smallest movements meaning that each muscle is worked for every exercise will leave you feeling sore the next day. This just means you’ve challenged muscles in new ways or using muscles groups which otherwise don’t get much attention.

  1. Pilates works several muscle groups.

Although Pilates is designed to focus on working the core and trunk it works the entire body. Your abdominals, hips, inner and outer thighs and back will all be worked during alongside the focus on the body’s core.

  1. Beginners classes will feature a certain group of exercises.

There is a standard set of Pilates moves which are used within beginners’ classes. The hundred, a breathing exercise that targets the cores strength and stability. The Roll Up, a precise move that stretches the back of the body and strengthens the abdominals.

Leg Circles, which help strengthen the hips and core and finally the Series of 5, a group of moves that strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.

  1. Wear tighter fitting clothing.

Even if you prefer to wear loose -fitting clothing it is beneficial to wear tight clothing as it helps the instructor see your movements better and prevents your clothing getting caught in any of the equipment.

In terms of footwear, classes will have preferences so its best to ask first, but usually a barefoot or soc approach is suitable. Socks with rubber detailing helping grip to the mat are recommended.

  1. Pilates has its own lingo.

Just like CrossFit Pilates comes with its very own language, so it’s important to ask regulars for advice on some the lingo used. For example, your ‘powerhouse’ refers to the centre of your body.

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