Endorsed by plenty of high-profile celebs and now a staple in gyms and health clubs up and down the country, Pilates is truly en vogue. However, many people are still unclear as to the origins and benefits of this hugely popular exercise programme.
In this article, we hope to dispel the common myths surrounding Pilates and help you understand what you can expect from regular sessions.
- Pilates is simply yoga in another form. Contrary to popular belief, yoga and Pilates are not interchangeable and promote two completely separate approaches towards body conditioning. Joseph Pilates, who developed the practice during the First World War, is not known to have studied yoga seriously, so there’s little historical evidence to suggest he developed Contrology from the underlying principles of yoga.
- Pilates is only for women. Wrong! Aside from the fact that Pilates was originally invented by a man, the conditioning exercises explored with Pilates can benefit both men and women. Whereas many men will adopt a part-by-part approach to muscle development (weightlifting, for example), Pilates promotes whole-body strength and fitness.
- A Pilates class isn’t a real ‘workout’. This phrase is a Pilates instructor’s biggest bugbear. Though Pilates can ultimately be as gentle or as demanding as the student can bear, it is definitely a workout!
Using proper form is the key to getting the most out of a Pilates workout, and this will be challenging for those who are not used to working their muscles so hard. Those new to the discipline will also find that, over time, the exercise will open up the pathway between the body and the mind, as a great deal of concentration is required to carry out some of the highly controlled movements involved in a typical Pilates class.
- Attending Pilates sessions is a great way to lose weight. Though regular Pilates can definitely complement a weight loss regime, it shouldn’t be considered a direct replacement for calorie-burning exercises, such as running, cycling or swimming. Pilates focuses on strengthening your core and improving your flexibility, not burning fat. That said, it will improve your fitness, stamina and overall coordination and so will aid better physical performance during aerobic or cardiovascular exercise.
- Anyone can teach Pilates. Unfortunately, this myth is partly true. Because Pilates instruction isn’t well regulated, anyone who has attended a couple of sessions or studied a Pilates DVD in great detail can profess themselves as a Pilates expert. However, we would always recommend booking a class with a coach who has undertaken an industry standard course with an organisation such as the APPI. Those who have earned a respected qualification are fully trained in the use of specialist Pilates equipment and have acquired the professional teaching skills needed to take a class, which means they’ll be able to help you achieve better results, using safe, well researched techniques.
As you may have already discovered for yourself, Pilates isn’t a ‘quick fix’, nor is it a walk in the park. You’ll really be able to get the most from Pilates by attending regular classes, focusing on controlling your body and embracing the challenge!
Stretch Physiotherapy and Pilates offers personal, one-to-one Pilates classes from its clinic in Chelmsford, Essex.