10 Things You Should Know About Pilates
Starting with, ‘you’re never too old to start.’
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a series of controlled exercises that condition the body and mind. Its primary focus is the body’s core — the abdominal, hip and back muscles. Most of the exercises are done in sets of five or 10, usually in a particular sequence.
Can I take it up after age 50?
It’s never too late to learn Pilates, even if you haven’t exercised in a long time or have had hip or back surgery. Each exercise can be adapted to meet individual needs, such as an old injury. The majority of my clients took up Pilates after turning 50 — some, decades after. As with any new activity, talk to a doctor first, especially if you’ve had a recent injury, are experiencing radiating pain or numbness in one or more limbs, or have recurring pain. Be sure to tell your instructor about past injuries or neck, shoulder, hip or back problems.
How will it benefit me?
If you practice regularly, you should enjoy improved posture, better balance, a stronger core, increased overall physical awareness and decreased stress.
If you’re only doing a few repetitions of each exercise, how can Pilates make a difference?
While in general the goal is precision of movement, not maximising reps, some of the exercises do require more repetitions: the Hundred, the first in the series, involves extending the legs out straight, keeping the head raised, and pumping your arms while inhaling for five counts and exhaling for five counts—till you reach 100. The Hundred gets circulation going through the combination of movement and breathing.
When will I see results?
If you practice two to three times a week, you should expect to see and feel changes in a month to six weeks.
I have back problems. Is Pilates safe?
Physiatrist Susan Sorosky, M.D., coauthor of a study examining the benefits of Pilates on lower-back pain, found that Pilates decreases pain and disability in those with chronic lower-back issues through its core strengthening and lumbar stabilization. She adds that Pilates’ emphasis on proper breathing and focus should benefit people with most any type of chronic pain.