Some readers might not know that this StyleBlueprint staff writer and Grammar Guru’s second passion is teaching and doing Pilates. I am classically and comprehensively trained and love to educate others about the innumerable reasons why everybody should try Pilates. Here are five mind and body benefits that make the fall and winter months the perfect time to try mat or reformer Pilates.
First, I’ll cover some background. To skip straight to my five reasons to start, click here.
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Pilates is a (generally) low-impact workout that strengthens muscles while improving posture, flexibility, and body awareness. It’s unique in that it targets the entire body and the oft-ignored muscles, tendons, and joints that connect the bigger muscles we love to tone. Pilates is incredible for core strength, balance, injury prevention, and making us more in-tune with our body as a whole connected system. It will make you feel less stiff and better able to conquer everything else you do in life, whether you’re sitting at a desk, holding children, or running marathons.
A little about the history of Pilates
Many don’t know that a German-born man named Joseph Pilates founded this method in the 1920s. Back then, he called it Contrology, and Joe strived to instill in his students the ability to use our minds to control our bodies not only while working out in a session but also when we are out in the world. Another beautiful facet of Pilates is that it can be tailored to almost every fitness level, age, ability, and injury. Be sure to find a fully certified and qualified Pilates instructor and consult your doctor before starting a new workout regimen.
The different types of Pilates
The main piece of Pilates equipment is called the reformer. A reformer is not a megaformer. You will see megaformers (and other similarly designed pieces of equipment) in studios like Solidcore, Bodyrok, SLT, Sculpthouse, and other brands that are often grouped in with the Pilates genre but are very different. For this article, I’m only discussing actual Pilates. It’s what I am trained in and hope to do every day until I die. You’ll typically have to go to a local boutique group studio or a franchise like Club Pilates (the company I teach for!) to use the reformer. Some country clubs and YMCAs have reformers, too.
Joe Pilates also created a sequence of exercises that can be performed on any mat. Mat Pilates is excellent for on-the-go or at-home practice and can be much more accessible from a cost perspective. If mat Pilates is more your speed, you can purchase great props to supplement and ramp up your workouts. I suggest starting with the magic circle, a stability ball 8 to 10 inches in diameter, and some two-pound weights for wrists or ankles. When it comes to online classes, Pilates Anytime has the most robust library of classes taught by vetted instructors.
5 REASONS TO START PILATES
1. It’s an indoor exercise perfect for escaping the cold.
No matter if you’re in a snowy, icy, or just cold locale, winter weather often limits outdoor activity and makes it harder to maintain a regular fitness routine. You can do Pilates at home, a gym, or a studio. Lots of studios will offer winter deals, too! Pilates is convenient and accessible during cold or inclement weather and helps foster a sense of community and well-being when we tend to hibernate.
2. It keeps our chilly bodies limber and less stiff.
Cold weather can cause muscles to tighten and joints to stiffen. Pilates combats those icky feelings of creakiness and tightness by improving flexibility and increasing range of motion. When we stay limber and mobile during the colder months, we are better set up to continue these healthy practices when it does get warmer, and we’re looking toward tropical vacations. Almost every aspect of Pilates is centered around core strength and stability. It makes you feel like you’re warming yourself up from the inside out.
3. It squashes those winter blues.
Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness — Joseph Pilates.
We all know that the winter blues are a genuine thing. About 7% of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and millions of others tend to feel lonely and isolated when it’s darker and colder. Not to mention the increased stress that bubbles up around the holiday season in our family and work spheres. The breathing, relaxation, and concentration techniques Pilates teaches can relieve mental stress and provide an hour to forget our to-do lists and focus on our mind-body connection. And I’ve talked time and again about how regular movement of any kind can boost energy levels and overall vitality.
4. It helps us not slip and fall on the ice.
Many doctors and physical therapists use Pilates to rehab people recovering from winter-related injuries, but let’s not even get to that point! Winter activities like skiing, ice skating, and walking to the car on black ice can lead to minor or catastrophic injuries. But Pilates exercises are designed to improve body awareness, balance, and muscle development: critical ingredients for fall prevention. In every one of my classes, we move the spine in all six directions it moves and our bodies in all three planes of motion. I repeatedly hear that Pilates makes people feel much more confident doing everyday activities or other athletic endeavors.
5. It helps our posture when we are oh-so-cozy.
Nothing is sweeter than prolonged reading or binging TV on the couch or by a crackling fire, but more time indoors means more time sitting. Being still can lead to poor posture and stiff necks and hips. Pilates strengthens the core, back, and pelvic floor muscles that naturally counteract prolonged sitting or lounging in weird positions. Long flights, road trips, and nights in beds that aren’t ours just become easier to endure. You wake up feeling taller, more energized, and more connected with your body.
Pilates helps keep our bodies in tune and our mental well-being in check during the colder months. There is no better time to start!
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