Pilates for Core Strength and Flexibility

Man doing Pilates on a machine

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Pilates started out like many fitness trends, with many of us wondering if it would be around for the long term. With our focus on connecting the mind and body and building a strong core foundation, it's not surprising that Pilates is not only still around, but growing each year.

While Pilates is like yoga in many ways, it has a different focus and provides different results. If you haven't tried it, learn more about what Pilates is and what it can do for you.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) is something like a cross between yoga, stretching, and calisthenics. Pilates:

  • Enhances body alignment
  • Incorporates exercises that target your abs, back, and legs, making your body strong and flexible.
  • Strengthens the abs, back and stabilizer muscles
  • Stretches, strengthens, and relaxes your body
  • When modified, is gentle enough for pregnant women, yet challenging enough for advanced exercisers.

While Pilates helps with flexibility, posture, and strength, it isn't much of a cardio or strength training workout, so it should be an add-on to a regular routine.

What makes Pilates different from yoga is that it's more focused on stabilizing and strengthening the pelvic floor as well as the core. In many moves, you hold your torso in place while moving your limbs in different directions, which challenges your balance, core strength, stability, and flexibility.

One of the core moves of Pilates is the Hundred, which challenges your abs and back in a whole new way as you take your legs to a 45-degree angle while pressing your hands up and down.

How to Start Pilates

If you belong to a health club, check the aerobics schedule to see if Pilates is an option. Or, search for Pilates studios in your area. Another option is to consider home Pilates equipment for your own home gym if going to a studio isn't an option.

In most Pilates studios, you'll either perform your workout on specially designed equipment or on a mat. Most Pilates classes these days have been adapted to the mat and may use other equipment such as a ring, band, ball or even a BOSU.

Pilates Videos

Videos are another great option for getting started with Pilates. Below are some great resources for Pilates videos:

A Word From Verywell

However you get started, you'll find that Pilates will enhance your daily functionality by improving your posture and flexibility.

Not only will your body feel better, but your mind will also remember how to relax and your spirit will feel rejuvenated. However, don't think this workout is easy. You may find the exercises difficult at first as your body adjusts to the balancing and strengthening movements.

Start slowly and only go as far as your body will let you. Gently work up to the more difficult exercises and be mindful of what you're doing. Staying in the moment will help you get the most out of your Pilates workout.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."