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Is Pilates A Good Workout?

Is Pilates a Good Workout?  This is a question asked by someone who has never done a Pilates workout! But the answer might surprise you, because there are several factors to consider – and really who is the best person to decide what qualifies as a “good” workout?

What do you consider a good workout?  Is it one that gets you breathing harder or elevates your heart rate?  Fatigues your muscles? Improves your flexibility? Focuses on your core? Works the whole-body? Makes you think? Challenges your physical abilities? Breaks a sweat? Improves your balance? Enhances coordination? Do you have to be thoroughly exhausted after a good workout or are you a-ok with being more energized?  Does a good workout for you help reduce stress, improve sleep, and help put a smile on your face?  Are your “good workouts” helping improve posture, reduce aches and pains, and reducing your risk of injury?  Are your workouts helping you get stronger, fitter, and enhancing your health?  ALL the qualities I’ve listed above are a part of what a Pilates workout can do to help improve your whole-body health.

Now with that said, you might not always break a sweat doing Pilates.  There may be days where your workouts are more mentally taxing than physical.  And there can be a huge difference in intensity level between a beginner’s Pilates workout and an intermediate-advanced level Pilates workout.  Good is relative.  The better question is, what is good for YOUR body?  What do you need to work on to improve and enhance your health?  Which are the best Pilates exercises that can help improve how you move based on your personal health history, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your muscle imbalances?   The answers to these questions won’t be found in a cookie-cutter workout, but they are the primary reason for the exercises IN your Pilates workouts!

Pilates is a mind-body modality. Every exercise, regardless of whether you’re working out in the weight room, doing Yoga, TRX, CrossFit, Aquatics, sports…every workout needs to have an element of brain-body connection. If you’re working the body, your brain should be engaged too!  But, a lot of people want to tune-out instead of tune-in to what they’re doing while they’re moving.  And this can make any workout a dangerous affair.  If you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, the muscles you’re using, how your body feels, what’s working well, and what needs to be improved, how fatigued you are to be able to safely execute another rep… there’s a good chance that “good workout” you were just having will turn into a pulled muscle, or other accident, and you’ll be sitting on the sidelines wishing you could workout.

There can be many different criteria used to decide what qualifies as a good workout.  With Pilates the exercises are always challenging, and even when you progress to more intermediate and advanced exercises, the basics can still be very tough and give you a good workout.  With Pilates “more” is not always better.  But rather “more correctly” will give you better benefits from your Pilates workouts.  As you become more familiar with the exercises and can do them well, your pace will pick up.  Increase the pace and you’ll either complete your workout more quickly, or have time to pack in two to three times the number of exercises you used to complete in an hour!

Joseph Pilates believed that you could achieve a well-rounded, full body workout with the Pilates system in 60 minutes or less.  That would be Reformer, Mat, and perhaps a few supplemental exercises your body needs either on the Cadillac, Chairs, or Barrels.  While Pilates is not considered a form of “aerobic” exercise, if you’re working at a brisk pace as you trot thru your workout, it is possible to get an elevated heart rate. And, if you add some of the Pilates Jump board exercises on the Reformer into your routine, you might end up with some full on cardio benefits.

But Pilates isn’t about cardio.  And there is a lot more to Pilates than just Matwork.  Pilates is about uniformly developing the whole-body in a well-balanced manner to improve strength, flexibility, posture, breathing, and body control – mind, body, and spirit feels better after a Pilates workout.

So, is Pilates a good workout?

Pilates is for every BODY.  But not every exercise is for every body.

Whether you’re young or old, healthy or de-conditioned, athletic, or have never played a sport in your life. Maybe you are coordinated, have two left feet, are able-bodied, or have physical limitations and health challenges that make regular exercise almost impossible.   If you’re looking for a good workout, and want to improve your whole-body health, find a well-qualified Pilates teacher to assist you (to help maximize the benefits your body will receive) and be sure to make Pilates a part of your weekly workout routine.

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Interested in learning more about the Pilates System? Grab a copy of Return To Life Through Contrology. Return to Life is the original Pilates Mat exercise book written by Joseph H. Pilates and contains the concepts and philosophies of The Pilates Method or “Contrology” and the original Matwork exercises.

Inside, find a step-by-step demonstration of how to do the original 34 Matwork exercises as well as why Mr. Pilates found the mind-body connection to be an integral piece in his development of the Pilates system.

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