When someone mentions Pilates as a form of exercise, often it is associated with females and, in particular, dancers. Well, as a proud Pilates exponent and instructor, I can tell you that I should’ve been doing this back when I was playing rugby against 120 kilo Samoans.
Overall strength and flexibility
What Pilates does (and, in particular, the clinical version that we do) that gym routines often neglect is strength WITH flexibility. After many years of loaded chin-ups, bench-press and heavy squats, I was used to only using a fraction of the movements available in my spine, shoulders and hips. Needless to say, I also had multiple injuries that resulted from muscle imbalances that were never corrected and were, in fact, perpetuated by my gym habits.
With many of us fellows sitting behind desks or doing repetitive manual tasks for a living, if our exercise routines don’t address the areas that get stiff and weak, then expect to see the same injuries come back to bite you.
Contrary to popular opinion and large parts of the Personal Training community, core strength does not mean being able to hold a plank for two minutes, do 20kg Russian twists or a thousand crunches. Good core stability is about the harmonious activity of stabilising muscles and phasic muscles.
Stability muscles should just hum away like the idle speed in a manual engine. They activate at about 30% effort or less, so grunting away on your sustained plank will do very little. In fact, it teaches the wrong muscles to try and do the stabilisers’ role.
The high-rep/low-resistance nature of Pilates means that technique, breathing and stability are all in tune before we start increasing load. If you’ve got the form with the slow stuff, then you can progress to heavier resistance knowing your muscles are all doing their job correctly.
The take-home note here is that you can make Pilates as hard as any gym exercise but be prepared to be shown your weaknesses first.
Look for videos coming from us in the near future but here are some advanced techniques on a Trapeze that most gym junkies would struggle with: