Trainer Tips

The Compelling Benefits of Mat Pilates

Believe it or not, Pilates has been around since the time of WWI and we believe it’s here to stay. It was created by a man named Joseph Pilates in 1914, and because bedrest was the norm in those days, he created a way to train the mind to activate muscles in the body. He was told he could do anything with his patients, as long as they stayed in bed, so he created the reformer. Mat Pilates is simply a version of pilates performed on the ground instead. For over a century, Pilates has been offering a number of huge benefits to the human body. Here’s the why — and a bit of the how-to — for incorporating Pilates into your workout routine.

Mat Pilates increases your cardiovascular endurance

When performing Pilates exercises, the goal is to always sync up the movement with your breathing. This simple but important aspect of the practice increases lung capacity. As you become more advanced, pilates mat classes move you through the exercises quickly — without stopping. This, too, boosts your heart rate. So throughout the class, you will keep your heart rate in an aerobic zone.

Pilates improves posture

One of the greatest aspects of pilates is learning the “grounding” body position. You start out lying down and can feel your body go into its proper posture. You can feel and learn what a neutral pelvis is — and maintain that position throughout your practice. This allows your core to engage, helping to strengthen the foundation of your posture. A strong core allows your body to sit upright and tall, without slouching.

Pilates increases your flexibility and mobility

When you’re using your body in all different planes of movement, you increase your range of motion. Most Pilates exercises involve a muscle stretch, followed by strengthening. For example, when performing the roll up, you start on your back, with your arms overhead. Using your core, you pull your upper body off the ground to a seated position. Then you reach forward with a curved spine towards your toes. With this one movement, you are strengthening your core, improving spinal articulation, and stretching your hamstrings.

Pilates teaches you how to breathe properly

Each movement in Pilates is done while syncing up with your breath. Using deep diaphragmatic breathing, you give yourself an internal shower — relaxing your nervous system — and activating your transverse abs which are the lead core stabilizer in the body. There are a number of benefits to breathing deeply and correctly, and pilates teaches that on a fundamental level.

How do I begin doing Pilates?

A beginner mat Pilates class is a great place to start learning the practice and gaining from these health benefits. An introductory class will teach you the basic Pilates movements, including the 5 series — five movements that all classes use to warm the core, as well as the rest of the body.

We’d love to get you moving, so if you want to start off easy, hop into the Gixo Pilates workout. It’s a great intro and there are 15– and 25-minute classes. And for those of you on a cross-training mission, keep in mind that pilates is a great addition to your routine since it balances out the body. Can’t wait to see you in class!