Thursday, October 1, 2009

Banish Spooky Myths

In light of the Halloween season I wanted to correct 5 myths out there I've heard about Pilates:
  1. Only women should do Pilates. I'd like to think my dad (or Joseph, the male creator) would be the first to disagree with this statement. I'll agree that books, DVDs and even a majority of studios you walk into will be dominated by women. However, men find Pilates to be a challenge with the exercises requiring stability and control such as Teaser or Short Box series on reformer. You work those all important posture muscles including your abdominal core that prevent you from slouching as you age. Males also find their flexibility increases, especially in the hips and legs. Are you still not convinced? Check out this link where a man puts Pilates to the untilmate test.
  2. If you want flat abs quick, Pilates is the way. Pilates will tone your body and narrow you with consistant workouts. The focus of each exercise stems from the abdominals, but more the transverse than the rectus (deep not superficial). Also Pilates is a full body workout so you will see restults in other spots, not just your belly.
  3. Pilates and yoga are very similar. Joseph Pilates (the creator) studied yoga, but they are two seperate forms of exercise. One big difference is the breathing. Pilates keeps the navel sinking in toward the spine instead of allowing your belly to fill with air like yoga. Another difference is Pilates has you move throughout while yoga includes postures you hold or meditation. Both do complement each other, so don't feel as though you have to pick one or the other.
  4. Since Pilates isn't cardio you won't burn many calories. Partly true. Pilates is not considered cardio, yet you do get a good workout of about 240 cals/hr if you are 150lbs (depending on ability level). This is equal to a Snickers bar or 3 glasses of wine (3.5 fl oz servings). I am not suggesting you replace Pilates with your usual aerobic session. Perhaps adding it in beforehand could enhanse your cardio with better posture while you run or bike. It will warm and stretch your body preparing it for the day ahead.
  5. If you are injured or elderly you should avoid Pilates. Actually Pilates is for any body or age group. Pilates was created as a form of rehibilitation. It is ideal for those who have injuries since exercises can be modified using a prop like a band or ball. Most exercises can also progress to becoming more challenging as the client builds strength. An example would be taking the Curl Ups to bent knee Pre Roll Ups to full legs out long Roll Ups. The elderly will appreciate the Pilates idea of quality over quanity. You will only do a few repetitions of one movement than move on. All exercises are low impact, especially on the reformer so they are gentle on aging joints. It is important, however to tell your instructor so you can recieve personal instruction if you do have special issues such as a broken bone or scoliosis to ensure the movements are done correctly without pain.
I hope I was able to correct a few common myths out there. Feel free to be a myth buster the next time you encounter one of these phrases about Pilates; I'm sure Joseph would be proud of you!

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