Pilates is a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility and posture as well as enhancing mental awareness. Its emphasis is on lengthening the body and aligning the spine rather than on bulking and shortening the muscles. This form of training is particularly good for building your core muscle strength.
The pilates philosophy does not aim to work your muscles to exhaustion and is not supposed to be intense. Each exercise has a defined movement, rhythm and breathing pattern that should be suited to the needs of the person performing the exercise. Repetitions are usually low and slow with a number of exercises being performed over a 45-90 minute period. The quality of each posture, including abdominal control and breathing, is more important than the number of repetitions.
Unlike yoga which focusses on static postures, pilates puts your body in unstable positions and challenges you to move your limbs. This form of exercise is terrific for building core strength in a balanced way.
Classes will usually perform exercises on mats using your own body weight and gravity to provide resistance. Specialized equipment or machines with spring loaded resistance can also be used but these are mainly found in specialized facilities rather than classes performed in gyms and health clubs.
The ability of programs to be individually tailored allows this form of training to be performed by a huge range of people with differing fitness levels and health situations. Like all exercise programs, you should check with a health professional before commencing to make sure there are no issues preventing you from benefiting from this training style.
There are a number of benefits when exercises are performed correctly and regularly (e.g. 2-3 times per week) including:
- improved flexibility
- core muscle strength and tone
- improved stabilisation of your spine, posture and balance
- rehabilitation from injury
- stress management and relaxation of shoulder, neck and upper back muscles
Where do I find gyms that provide pilates classes?
A huge number of gyms provide free access to classes as part of your membership. To find the ones closest to you, enter your address or suburb in our search page and then filter for Pilates. We have more than 2,500 gyms in our database from across Australia. It’s so easy to suss out gyms!