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3 Life-Enriching Benefits Of Pilates

Though Joseph Pilates passed away over 40 years ago, the program he invented continues to win raving fans. Those who practice Pilates claim that it's more than merely a fitness routine; it's a devotion to the continual improvement of how your body moves. Instead of visiting the gym and working out your arms, legs and torso, Pilates focuses on building the muscle strength of your core while increasing your body's overall flexibility. By doing so, you can achieve a level of grace and efficiency in your movements, allowing all of your muscles to work together in unison. Below, we'll describe the 3 key benefits of Pilates so you can discover whether the program is a good fit for your life.

Benefit #1: Awareness Of Your Body

Two key principles behind Pilates are the ability to focus your concentration and control your body's movements. It encourages you to develop an awareness of your body that constantly monitors your movements, posture and muscle tension. Whether you're walking in the grocery store, standing in your kitchen, or driving, this awareness slowly improves your coordination and balance. It also helps you identify when you're slouching or otherwise causing muscle tension without realizing (for example, when you're slumped in front of your computer). This awareness alerts you to any chronic pains in your back, neck and shoulders.

Benefit #2: Core Muscle Strength

While doing Pilates can give you the washboard stomach many people want, that's not the goal. Instead, Pilates builds the strength of your core muscles. The area of your abdomen contains the strength from which your entire body derives energy and stamina. A strong, flexible core is the foundation of your body's balance, grace and control. Rather than building the size and strength of individual muscles (such as your biceps, calves, etc.), Pilates builds your core to help improve the strength and stability of your back, spine and midsection. Much like a tree that survives the elements based upon the strength of its trunk, Pilates encourages building your core muscle strength.

Benefit #3: Complete Body Control

The primary goal of Pilates is to achieve perfect body symmetry. That is, the muscles in your body should work together fluidly during every movement. Grace, control, coordination and balance are all direct results of achieving this symmetry. Many of Joseph Pilates's first clients in the U.S. were boxers and ballet dancers. Both disciplines required extraordinary body symmetry. Today, many athletes and actors perform Pilates to gain that same level of symmetry. By maintaining complete body control, you can improve your own grace, coordination and balance.

Pilates For Better Overall Health

By focusing on building an awareness of your body, strengthening your core muscles and developing body control, Pilates can improve your circulation, relieve muscle tension and build greater flexibility. Many devotees claim that they've been able to significantly reduce chronic back and neck pain by performing Pilates. Others say that the exercises eliminate stress and encourage better sleep. Most enthusiasts agree that Pilates is a valuable, life-enriching discipline that promotes long-lasting health. By improving body symmetry, grace in motion, balance and coordination, Pilates offers a uniquely-potent method of achieving a healthy mind and body.