Pilates can help improve the fitness and wellbeing of virtually any Vancouver resident. An effective, low-impact form of fitness, Pilates exercises are widely practiced, from the elite athlete to the typical nine-to-five businessperson.
Pilates is an exercise system for the body and mind that is widely recognized for developing and maintaining core strength and improving flexibility. For this reason, Pilates is praised for helping to ensure proper posture. However, with hundreds of different exercises, Pilates is a whole-body workout that also helps to relieve joint stress by correcting imbalances in the muscles that support them.
There are a number of different types of Pilates. Joseph Pilates, the founding namesake, developed the traditional method during World War I to rehabilitate injured soldiers. Since then, the program has evolved, and today various forms of Pilates are widely practiced, not only for their rehabilitation qualities, but to aid in performance enhancement and injury prevention as well.
Pilates for Any Lifestyle
It is a misconception that Pilates are reserved only for athletes or extremely fit individuals. Anyone in Vancouver can do Pilates, no matter what their age, body type, or degree of fitness.
Pilates can be an integral part of physical therapy programs. In particular, the STOTT Pilates method lends itself especially well to accident and injury rehabilitation. Embracing the traditional exercises, STOTT Pilates — pioneered by physical therapists and fitness specialists was developed with an emphasis on the fundamentals of exercise kinetics the restoration of the natural curvature of the spine. This Pilates method is an extremely safe, adaptable and universal system.
STOTT Pilates can be practiced on Pilates mats or using specially designed equipment. Examples of Pilates equipment include the Pilates reformer, fitness balls, resistance bands, and the Pilates chair, among others. Pilates equipment creates diversity in a Pilates program and permits several modifications of the individual exercises, allowing them to be catered to meet any individual’s needs.
When Pilates is performed on a floor mat, the primary form of resistance is provided by one’s own body weight. Conversely, one of the mostly commonly used pieces of Pilates equipment— the reformer— provides resistance using a variety of straps, springs, and bars in conjunction with a moving platform. These features provide support and can allow for greater isolation of specific muscles, ensuring that the exercises are performed properly, and most importantly, safely. This is imperative when Pilates is being employed in the treatment of injuries.
As a fitness regime, Pilates can be incorporated into practically any healthy-active lifestyle. The exercises can be used to complement weight training and cardiovascular routines, and because of their emphasis on flexibility and muscular balance, Pilates may help to reduce the occurrence of injuries that can result from overtraining with many other types of activities. Pilates has been used to enhance performance and reduce injury occurrence in countless athletes, ranging from dancers and baseball players, to golfers and horseback riders.
Pilates and Yoga
With an emphasis on they body and mind, it can often be difficult to differentiate Pilates from yoga. While both Pilates exercises and yoga underline controlled movements and rhythmic breathing, there are some important differences between the two. Pilates can be viewed as a comprehensive mind and musculo-skeletal-conditioning system. On the other hand, yoga is better understood as a lifestyle. The yoga lifestyle is not limited to physical poses, but also encompasses healthy diet and meditation with a goal of achieving harmony between the body, mind, and spirit. Both Pilates and yoga offer attractive qualities and can even compliment one another. This has led many Vancouver Pilates and yoga studios to offer both, and sometimes combined, Pilates and yoga classes.
The Pilates instructors we recommend offer different classes, from floor or mat classes that use minimal equipment, to fully equipment-based classes, providing variety that is sure to help anyone achieve their personal wellness and lifestyle goals.
Unlike other types of conditioning programs that often emphasize repetition, the most important feature to remember when performing Pilates exercises is the quality and effectiveness of the movements, not quantity. Our Pilates instructors keep their class numbers low. This means mat classes that range from four-to-ten people or equipment classes from private-to-six people. In doing so, our instructors can provide more one-on-one instruction, ensuring that you obtain maximum benefits from their classes.
Practiced regularly, Pilates can be an invaluable addition to virtually any lifestyle. If you have always wanted to try Pilates this is a great way to work gradually to build a strong, healthy and active body. Speak to your Electra Health Floor healthcare practitioner for more information on Pilates in Vancouver.
By Jesse Veenstra, M.Sc.
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