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Get In Shape With Pilates

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Updated May 21, 2012

In Shape with Pilates

An Advanced Pilates Move - Grasshopper on the Barrel

Lindsay Hendrickson, Pilates Corps Inc., licensed to About.com

To get in shape with Pilates is to embark on an amazing journey of not just physical fitness, but as Joseph Pilates said, a complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.

Everyone likes to talk about the flat abs Pilates gives you or the long, lean muscles, even weight loss; and if you commit to Pilates training those are among the benefits you can enjoy. But, as you will see, they are part of a much bigger picture.

What we are after in Pilates is, "a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure." (Joseph Pilates).
That's what it means to get in shape with Pilates!

I bet you are ready to get started already. But first, there are a few things about Pilates that make it a uniquely effective system. If you understand these things about the Pilates approach to exercise you will get in shape much faster, and in a more integrated and life enhancing way:

Pilates is for Every Body
Getting in shape with Pilates is a path anyone can embark on, from the couch potato to the athlete. Pilates exercises can be modified to meet the needs of the individual.
Learn How to Modify Exercises

The Pilates Principles
In order for the Pilates method to work its magic, the exercises should be done with certain principles in mind. The Pilates principles are: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. These ideas are integral to achieving the dramatic results that Pilates in known for. Results like a body that is strong, flexible, and able to gracefully accommodate the movement demands of your life. They are also the keys to the body/mind/spirit integrative aspects of the work.
read more about the Pilates principles

Pilates is Core
Pilates exercise starts with the core of your body -- with full breaths refreshing your cells; with your heart and circulatory system pumping fresh blood into your tissues; and with training the deep muscles of your abdomen, back and pelvis (your Pilates powerhouse) to support your spine, and provide stability in your pelvis and shoulders as you move. When we strengthen and stabilize the core, we can safely move out from center to increase the flexibility of our spine, stretch our muscles, and improve the range of motion in our joints.

Get Started with Pilates Exercises
Now that you know some of the inner workings of getting in shape with Pilates, I bet you are ready to get moving. Here are some links to get you started:

Increasing Your Fitness Level
If you are consistent in your Pilates training your fitness level will continue to improve. You will, however, need to continue to challenge yourself - as is true with any fitness method. As you progress, will find that the pace of a workout picks up as do the strength and stability challenges. It is also important to evaluate your Pilates training periodically and make sure you are really getting the results you deserve.
Evaluate Your Pilates Training - 6 Questions

Adding Pilates Equipment
Once you get your foundation in the Pilates mat work, you can add challenge, and variety, with Pilates equipment. There is small equipment that can use at home and you can take classes at a studio for work on the larger equipment like the reformer and Pilates chair.

Scheduling Pilates To get in shape with Pilates, it is recommended that you schedule Pilates four times per week, building the duration of a session up from as little as 10 minutes to 45 minutes at home or an hour at class. It is a good idea to take Pilates classes if you can. A combination of classes and Pilates at home seems to be optimal.

Many people find Pilates to be an entirely satisfying fitness regimen. In traditional exercise terms, Pilates is moderate strength and flexibility training. If you want to round out your fitness program with a more cardiovascular workout, you might want to cross train with aerobic exercises. Read:

More Fitness Programs to Get in Shape

  • Get in Shape With Weight Training
  • Get in Shape With Pilates
  • Get in Shape With Yoga
  • Get in Shape With Walking
  • Get in Shape With Running
  • Get in Shape with General Exercise
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