Is Your Workout Multi-Tasking?

Pilates Will Make You Better at Everything

If you've heard me on my soap box about overall fitness you know I'm not one of those preachy types that believes you should abandon all other types of fitness and devote yourself exclusively to Pilates. Far from it. Pilates, as I see it is your foundation for fitness. It's the platform or launch pad for all other exercise or activity you should enjoy in your lifetime. Having said that, it seems obvious that more and more people are exercising these days.

And more often than not I see people taking on one exclusive type of workout. Folks become obsessed with a teacher or class and exclude all others in favor of a single workout regime.  That would be just fine, if your body only needed to do one thing all day. But of course, it doesn't.

Functional Training

The human body is meant to multitask movement. Muscles work in synergy not in singles. Isolating muscle groups isn't really functional since our everyday activities of walking, running, bending and just standing up from sitting require loads of muscles to sync up and work together. Some pull, some push, some stabilize. Which all adds up to the question  - which is the best type of exercise to focus on? The exercise that does it all, right?

Pilates for Total Body Conditioning

Here's why I believe Pilates to be the absolute best type of total body conditioning over all the other types of exercise.

  • Pilates is Strength Training. This is a fact. Pilates uses two types of resistance training to achieve strength. Body weight and spring-driven resistance. Yoga utilizes body weight effectively but does not make use of additional weight like the Pilates springs which serve to increase the muscle load and therefore build strength. Weight lifters do far less body weight exercise as compared to weights so they focus on the one skill set. Pilates combines the best of both and develops strength across both areas.
  • Pilates is Flexibility Training. Stretch is the other side of strength. A robust range of motion can determine how long your body stays healthy. Stiff muscles and brittle bones limit your mobility and make you prone to falls and injuries. Pilates employes full range of motion across all the joints to keep the body supple and mobile. Strength without mobility is pretty useless. You need both. Want to live longer? Maintaining range of motion is critical. Check that.
  • Pilates Develops Muscle Stability and Core Control.  Centering is a Pilates industry term for starting movement from the core of the body. When you practice Pilates you learn that everything starts here. A strong center frees your limbs to operate without risk to the torso. If the trunk is stable, mobility, and agility come easily. Babies develop stability before mobility. Pilates works the same way.
  • Pilates Trains Body Awareness. Stand up straight. Hold your Abdominals strong. Pull your shoulders down and back. All Pilates mantras that work when you have left the studio. If your exercise isn't working after your workout, then it isn't working as well as it should. Pilates works 24 hours a day as you get smarter and smarter about your body and where it should be when you sit, stand, walk and move.
  • Pilates Works Out Your Mind and Breath. "Above all learn to breathe", said Joe Pilates. We know that a properly oxygenated body performs better and that breathing techniques can increase metal clarity and emotional stability. The combination of breathing techniques and complex choreography require keen mental focus. You really can't do Pilates without one hundred percent concentration. Working your mind is the single most effective way to work your body. Pilates, therefore, incorporates mental and physical conditioning. Package in your mindfulness and meditation into your Mat work? Yes, please.
  • Pilates Increases Stamina. If you don't know this you should. Pilates beginners start with a finite number of moves done in a set period of time. The basic Mat may include 7-10 exercise and take just 15 minutes. But the complete advanced mat is 34 exercises and is intended to be done in a similar time frame. So if you are learning the true Pilates system you will be on a steady progressive track with each and every workout to move longer and faster. Rest times that may be included for the beginner level will vanish by the time you are intermediate. So endurance is also addressed with good old-fashioned Pilates training.

All exercise is good for you. Take some time to assess your current workout and see if you are covering all the fitness bases you can to be truly fit and healthy. If not, try Pilates.

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