The Benefits of Pilates
Just what can Pilates exercises do for you?
Pilates Benefit No. 1: Body Awareness continued...
As a Pilates-trained physical therapist, Dan Westerhold says he sees a lot
of clients with injuries or weakness of the postural muscles, as a result of
work, lifestyle, or not exercising the right way.
"People sit slouched at computers all day, then go to the gym and work their
extremities," says Westerhold, of Pilates Seattle. "They don't use their
Think of a tree, Pilates experts say. Does it have all its strength in its
limbs? No. The tree is only as strong as its trunk and roots. Without a strong
trunk, the tree would topple over.
It's the same for human bodies, say Pilates experts. If we don't concentrate
on building a good foundation and a strong trunk or core, we'll end up tight in
some places and weak in others, injury-prone and susceptible to the pitfalls of
our occupation or chosen form of exercise.
Pilates Benefit No. 2: A Stronger Core
But how about flattening the abs? Can Pilates exercises really give you a
Experts warn that it's important not to equate a stronger core with a
"When people want 'flat abs,' they are usually looking for weight
loss, not abdominal strength and core support," says George. "More than
touting the benefits of Pilates for flat abs, we should be touting the benefits
of Pilates for a stronger, healthy back and body. If along the way, you do the
other components of fitness and trim the body down, yes, you're going to have a
As you develop body awareness, stand straighter, and gain flexibility,
"Pilates will shift your shape," says Galliano. "But just attending a group mat
class may or may not change your body."
Kevin Bowen, co-founder of the Pilates Method Alliance and director of
special projects, says it is important that abdominals are flexible, not just
"A flexible muscle is a strong muscle," says Bowen. "A hard muscle may feel
good and give an interesting look, but if you don't have the flexibility and
the balance and the functionality that you need to allow your body to function
properly, sooner or later, it's going to show up someplace else."