Power Up With Pilates

Laura Brieser-SmithPilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez), once reserved as an exercise method only for celebrities, danc­ers, and athletes, has now become the craze for exercisers of all ages and abilities.  While it may appear to be new, this exercise method has been around for quite a while.

The Pilates method of exercising was founded by Joseph Pilates.  Born in Germany in 1880, Pilates was a frail, sickly child.  In order to overcome his own physical in­firmity, he became obsessed with physical fitness and spent years perfecting his method of exercise and, eventually, teaching it to others.  The Pilates exercise program works the entire body; however, it focuses primarily on the “powerhouse” or the group of muscles of the abdomen, middle back, low back, and hips.  The movements are done slowly and with control, so it is a low impact, safe form of exercise.  Not only does it work on strengthening muscles, but it also helps with stretching and lengthening tight muscles.  Pilates also has cardiovascular benefits, as deep abdominal breathing is a major component. Back or joint pain can often be prevented by practicing Pilates, as the exercises are designed to improve flexibility and eliminate poor postural habits.  Just like other forms of exercise, Pilates provides mental benefits and can be a great way to relieve stress and improve your overall health.  As with all types of exercise, there are many different styles of Pilates.

Exercises can be done lying on a mat or you may to choose to utilize one of many machines, such as the Reformer.  While there are many excellent videos on the market that help you with a Pilates routine, you may find it helpful to attend a class in order to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly and getting the maximum benefit.  You will find that there are classes offered at many of the recreation centers in the Denver area.  So, give it a try and power up your “powerhouse” with Pilates!

Laura Brieser-Smith, MPH, RD, CHFS is the owner of Healthy Designs, LLC which provides nutrition counseling and personal training to clients in their homes or offices.  She can be reached at 303-635-1131 or at hlthydsign@aol.com.

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