Oh, Pilates. If you’re reading this, you might be interested in beginning a Pilates practice or are already an avid Pilates student. Regardless of your current level, understanding the benefits of Pilates can help you deepen your practice and make sure you are harnessing every last benefit! So, what are the benefits of pilates? We’ve broken it down into five easy-to-digest main benefits: mind-body connection, improved mobility, increased strength, better posture, and injury prevention. Read on to learn more about the benefits of Pilates.
The Top 5 Benefits of Pilates
Before we get started, let’s get a few things aligned. What is Pilates? Pilates is a full-body, low-impact exercise method focused on enhancing the body’s potential. Pilates can be performed with just a mat, or with a Pilates reformer, in a Pilates studio, or from the comfort of your own home. Generally speaking, Pilates workouts last between 45 minutes to an hour and include breath control and slow, precise movements focused on body alignment. So, what are the benefits of pilates?
1. MIND-BODY CONNECTION
A regular Pilates practice helps students build better awareness, positively influencing the health of both the body and mind.
In Pilates, we understand that to maintain a healthy and strong body, we need to enrich, invigorate, and nurture the mind. You cannot have one without the other. Instead of cruising through life on auto-pilot, Pilates helps you fully feel and appreciate each moment. The body awareness that Pilates brings helps you consciously move and control your body, on the mat, reformer, and in everyday life. If you’ve ever felt disconnected from your body, or uncoordinated, Pilates can help you reconnect with your body and achieve grace.
How does it work? The six principles of Pilates—centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow—help students achieve this coveted mind-body connection. Through controlled breathing and instructor cues, students can connect their exercise movements to their breath. Students are also encouraged to leave the stress of the day at the door. Once you’re in a Pilates studio or your own at-home Pilates studio, you’re encouraged to center yourself, notice how your body is responding to the workout, and let any negative thoughts pass through you. The key to a strong mind-body connection? Practice, practice, practice.
2. IMPROVED MOBILITY
Do you struggle to touch your toes? Sometimes, it can feel like some people are born with mobility, and others are just destined to struggle with the basics. This is simply not true! Just ask Pilates Master John Garey. Before he began practicing Pilates, he could not touch his toes with straight legs. It’s one of the main reasons he began Pilates in the first place.
“Any progress is good progress and you should celebrate each small gain you make. Your brain will hear you loud and clear and help you achieve the big goals to come.” – John Garey
Think about it. During the day, how many hours do you spend sitting at a desk, or on a couch? These hours spent sedentary teach our bodies over and over again that they only have to maintain a certain range of motion to accomplish the day’s tasks. Without exercising the full mobility of your muscles and joints, your body eventually forgets how. That’s why you can’t touch your toes, or comfortably cross your legs on the ground.
Pilates reminds your body of what it used to know. In Pilates, we follow the correct patterns of movement for healthy full-body mobility. At first, these movements might feel foreign, but with time, your body understands that Pilates is restoring your body to a healthier range of motion, mobility, and feeling. Pilates helps people increase their range of motion in all joints. This means being able to move freely and pain-free, even in those positions you thought your body just wasn’t designed to do.
This makes Pilates a life-long practice, beneficial for all stages of life. No matter your age, fitness level, or mobility level, Pilates can help you build back the mobility you were born with.
3. INCREASED STRENGTH
As you quickly will discover, a regular Pilates practice isn’t just about increasing mobility. You will begin to feel stronger. Pilates is a whole-body workout with an emphasis on the core. Because Pilates teaches moving from the center and focusing on your core when you move, you will begin to move with more power. A stronger center is key to increasing strength in all other aspects of your life, including other fitness activities. If you stick to Pilates long enough, you might even acquire a Pilates core—a serious game-changer. Think, rock-hard abs.
Jokes aside, the benefits of a strong core are endless. Often termed, “the powerhouse,” the core is your body’s center and influences the way the rest of your body moves. Your abs, neck, back, hips, chest, glutes, everything receives support and stabilization from the core. A strong core makes everything from walking, running, and sitting easier and less painful. One British study found that after only 12 weeks of Pilates, a majority of study participants experienced a significant increase in core strength. It also keeps your body aligned, helping you prevent injuries and reduce the tension on your joints and muscles. (But, more on that later.)
Increased strength can also lead to more energy and better moods. As well as higher motivation, confidence, and mental clarity. When we talk about the mind-body connection, this is what we mean. When you strengthen your body, you strengthen your mind. Suddenly, tasks that once felt impossible become possible, and thoughts that barred you from trying new things, evaporate from your mind, allowing you to accomplish your goals, and hit those milestones!
4. BETTER POSTURE
Due to its emphasis on core strength, Pilates students often discover that maintaining a healthy posture throughout the day becomes easier. While “perfect posture” as the health and fitness industry has historically understood it has become somewhat of a controversial topic, striving to improve your posture has its benefits. Small gains to improve posture can be immeasurably beneficial to building confidence, reducing pain, and preventing injuries.
With a stronger core, Pilates students find they can move from a place of strength, rather than slouch. The truth is when you allow your body to slouch for prolonged periods, with time, your lower back experiences stress. This goes the same for when you sit lazily in a chair, perhaps with your legs crossed or drawn-out long in front of you. Having better posture can also lead to fewer headaches, better moods, less fatigue, and even increased lung capacity. The more you know!
5. INJURY PREVENTION
This one’s really important. All of the above benefits combine to help prevent injuries that happen to most of us as we age and carry about daily life. This is why so many athletes add Pilates to their training programs. There’s truly no better way to prevent those overuse injuries than re-establishing a relationship with your body, one with supportive, strength, and mobility-based movements, and correct alignment. Bye-bye, knee surgery!
How does it work? Pilates is a low-impact exercise that will not add unnecessary strain or impact on your joints. That’s great on its own, but Pilates exercises are also designed to restore any imbalances you have in the body that can potentially lead to future injury. For example, most of us have dominant hands and/or feet, which is perfectly normal. But without correcting certain muscular imbalances, one limb can be left more susceptible to injury than the other, due to weakness and lack of use. The emphasis on full-body strength and mobility helps strengthen the body to withstand obstacles that could lead to injury in the future.
Learn More: What Are the Benefits of Pilates?
Convinced? Want to learn more? Delve deeper into these five benefits of pilates with Pilates Master John Garey.
Other Benefits of Pilates
If the health benefits of Pilates interest you but aren’t enough to get you moving—especially if you’ve been living in sweatpants since the pandemic started—here are some other benefits to help you kickstart a practice:
- Stress relief
- Improved sleep
- Less anxiety
- Improved motivation
- Improves balance
- Stronger bones
- More motivation to get up off that couch
- Increased circulation
- Boosted immunity
- Improved academic performance
Fitness Should Be Fun
Now that you understand the benefits of pilates, you’re likely excited to get back on the mat or reformer. At John Garey fitness, we believe that fitness should be fun. The only way you’re going to keep coming back for more Pilates is with a combination of the above-stated Pilates benefits, and the genuine enjoyment you get from the workouts. Learn more about John Garey fitness and JGTV and how you can incorporate these Pilates benefits into your own at-home Pilates workout journey.