Pilates is a newer concept for fitness and is meant to strengthen, rather than focus on cardio/impact methods. It takes a great deal of focus and concentration. The method of the routine and the movements themselves are often more important than the duration or result.
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Through carefully controlled movements, which look and feel like a workout, your endurance, body control, balance and flexibility will improve. There is a focused emphasis on alignment, breathing techniques, and balance.
What is great about the Pilates’ system is that it allows for different exercises to be modified for beginners and advanced practitioners or to any other level. Intensity can be increased as you become stronger and more adept.
A few simple Pilates exercises you can try at home are:
Kneel on the floor with knees directly under hips, feet touching. Hinge upper body back about 45 degrees, engaging abs, glutes, and feet while maintaining a straight line from head to knees. Now sloly return to the starting position feeling all your muscles work. For a more challenge exercise, keep the hinge position for longer and lower and lift your arms 10 times, slowly of course.
Stand with feet parallel, hip-distance apart. Inhale, then exhale while extending arms up and reaching through upper back. Inhale, then exhale and slowly roll down or bend forward toward the floor one vertebrae at a time. Once you reached your feet, sit back as if sitting in a chair before reaching up and lifting heels to return to standing position.
Planking involves an extended period, holding your body in a flat position by leaning on your elbows and toes. The idea is to start with a short period of time and then extend it incrementally. The benefits are many: core conditioning (abs), glutes and hamstrings, and supports proper posture and improved balance.
Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. This is important to keep the right balance and support. Now, contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body with the forearms still remaining on the ground; you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold this for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
Side planking is simply a derivative of the basic planking technique, meant to focus on different muscle groups and improve balance.
Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for the allotted time for each set, then repeat on the other side.
Pushups are easy and can be done anywhere. Why not step it up a notch and try them on an incline. You can use a piece of furniture, a ledge or desk. This exercise focuses more on the back, biceps and triceps. Again, you can incrementally increase your duration or counts as you become stronger.