5 Surprising Reasons To Do Pilates (They're Not What You Think!)

Pilates can make your body look lean and toned, but there is so much more to gain from a regular Pilates practice. Here are five surprising benefits from doing Pilates:

1. You'll have a better golf swing.

Pilates exercises move the body in all directions. My goal as a Pilates instructor is to incorporate as many exercises as I can that rotate the body, especially the spine. After sitting at a computer all day, the back needs to twist. Golfers and other athletes especially benefit from having a flexible spine that rotates with ease.

The same rule applies to the shoulder. Typical "gym" exercises strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which can leave them tight. Pilates exercises strengthen the shoulder muscles surrounding the joint and encourage shoulder-joint mobility.

2. You'll build better bones.

My clients love the part of my classes when we "jump." Jumping is done while lying on your back. There is a jump board connected to the Pilates Reformer machine, and you jump on it the same as you would jump on a trampoline. Jumping is a bone-building, impact exercise. Since you are laying down on the Reformer, there is little to no pressure being put on the spine, reducing the risk of injury often seen in traditional impact exercises.

3. Your balance skills will improve drastically.

In Pilates class, many exercises are performed while standing on the Reformer. The exercises can be done with varying degrees of difficulty. You might start with one foot on the floor and the other on the Reformer. As your balance skills improve and with the guidance of a trained Pilates instructor, you'll move to the more advanced exercises while moving on the Reformer, like star (essentially a side plank, on the Reformer with one leg raised) and balance control front (lie flat on your back and raise one leg, while bringing the other close to your head).

4. You’ll also strengthen your pelvic muscles.

One of the Pilates movement principles is core activation. The core, or your "powerhouse," is the foundation for every exercise in Pilates class. You will activate your core prior to starting any exercise during class. The core is made up of several muscles including the muscles in the pelvic floor. It's those muscles that also control the flow of urine from the body. The stronger those muscles are, the less likely you'll need the adult undergarments in your future. Enough said.

5. You'll get some mindful exercise without the "OM."

Not every workout needs to begin and end with "om" to gain some of the benefits of mindful exercise. Pilates will help you to tune into your body in order to activate the muscles. You need to listen to the instructions carefully in order to be safe, and you need to pay attention to the feedback you are getting from the equipment. You cannot think about your grocery list, tomorrow's board meeting or what you are wearing to work. A Pilates class is typically about 55 minutes of mental focus that is refreshing and stimulates the brain.

Pilates is an effective and efficient way to work the body. To get all of the benefits mentioned above, make sure to work with a highly certified instructor that can move you strategically and safely between exercises.

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