Dispelling the Myths and Mysteries
By Amanda Jessee, MA, NKT3, CSCS, PMA-CPT, ACE-GFI
Director of Education, Personal Best Pilates Studio
Pilates is touted as the best ab workout, great for the core but there is still some confusion about what it really is. Is it Yoga, is it weight training, is it like barre classes? Even though Pilates has been around for since the early 1900’s, people are still confused about Pilates, it’s benefits, and how Pilates compares to other types of exercise. This article will help to dispel the three myths and mysteries that still surround this amazing form of exercise.
Misconception #1: Pilates is like Yoga
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding Pilates is that Pilates is just like Yoga. Both types of exercise are in the “Mind/Body” category of fitness, but this is where the similarities stop. Yoga is a mental, physical and spiritual practice, which in the US mainly consists of increasing flexibility and strength via holding postures for a certain amount of time.
Pilates is more like weight training in this respect. The core based exercises are repeated 6-10 times, more like weight training. The core encompasses your whole torso, the abdominals, the back muscles, the sides of the waist, the hip and shoulder muscles and even the muscles of the pelvis. Every Pilates exercise without exception uses the core muscles to either stabilize or mobilize the spine. In the roll-up, a participant is rolling through every segment of the spine from the neck to the tailbone while strengthening the abdominals. In leg circles, participants hold the entire spine still in a position called neutral, while moving the leg in a circle. Participants strengthen both the deeper stabilizing muscles that support the bones and discs of the spine as well as the more superficial mover muscles that enable one to have freedom of movement.
Misconception #2: Pilates is for women
Another misconception is that Pilates is for women. This could not be further from the truth. Professional athletes to weekend warriors to older adults wanting to ward off the ill effects of aging, benefit from core work. The immediate change reported is posture improvement; clients say they feel they stand up straighter. Other benefits clients report is ease of movement, better balance, improved breathing, increased strength and flexibility and decreased pain. This is great for men and women.
Misconception #3: Pilates is hard
Finally, people think Pilates is too hard. It is true that there are advanced exercises that can be challenging. A well-trained, nationally certified instructor will always begin with the basics and progress at an appropriate pace for the client. Every single Pilates class or private session should begin with a minimum of a quick review of basic form.
Pilates is a smart choice if you are interested in better posture, less pain and deep core work. Pilates complements other forms of exercise such as Yoga, running or weight training. Men and women of all ages and fitness levels will find that Pilates can enhance their quality of life.
Amanda Jessee is Director of Education at Personal Best Pilates Instructor Academy and co- owner of Personal Best Pilates Studio in Overland Park Kansas. Amanda has been teaching Pilates since 2000 and general fitness since 1986 and is a nationally Certified Pilates Method Alliance Pilates instructor.