Pilates: many benefits, little exercise

Friday, 25 March 2016
Pilates: many benefits, little exercise

In the midst of new trends and alternatives concerning selecting fitness programmes best suited to different individuals, Pilates comes out as a top contender based on what it promises.

Unlike other exercise forms, Pilates is biased towards inflicting as little pain as possible in order to get the desired results, that’s according to its adherents. If you have tried various options such as hiking, cycling, the gym and other hectic exercise options, why don’t you try out Pilates and see what all the raving is about? Pilates is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasises the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement.

The top benefits of doing Pilates exercise is those who follow it become stronger, longer, leaner, and more able to do anything with grace and ease. Isn’t this what we are all looking for, to find an exercise routine that gives us so much in terms of benefits?
Women especially with their clashing schedules taking care of their families while trying to keep the ship afloat at the office particularly require something as incredible as Pilates in order to bring balance into their lives. On a recent Saturday morning, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana held their annual Health is Wealth session for a select number of their priority clients who all happened to be women.

Held at the Grand Palm poolside area, activities for the day included hectic and rewarding session of Pilates, Mindfulness and financial Health is Wealth session. MotherK Masire was on hand with a Mindfulness session and Edna Dambe of Money Matters touched on the importance of understanding one’s financial needs and goals.Intrigued by what Pilates promises to unleash, Style took a few minutes to hear all about what makes it this special and what differentiates it from other fitness forms. Oliver Muchazviona, who is the Managing Director of Pilates Fitness Botswana, was on hand to take the women through their paces and showed them how to balance their bodies, breathe properly as well as strengthen their core.

Although in the beginning it appeared as if some were attempting the impossible, the women were soon moving in uniform and enjoying the session. According to Muchazviona, one of the important points that make Pilates the go to exercise routine is the fact that it develops core strength unlike other exercise forms. “The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported,” he explained post event.

“This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs - and not more. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all covet,” he explained. Pilates also increases flexibility. He noted that those who practise Pilates work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. “You won’t find quite as much “pretzel logic” in Pilates as you might in yoga, but a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a very realistic goal,” he pointed out.

Muchazviona said that Pilates creates strength without bulk. And those long and lean muscles are the name of the game here. In Pilates, they are not looking to build muscles for show. But are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life.“One of the ways that Pilates creates long, strong muscles is by taking advantage of a type of muscle contraction called an eccentric contraction,” he explained. He also noted that Pilates helps with stress since the methods of exercise are based on moving without tension. Only the muscles that are required for a particular activity should be employed while the rest should stay as relaxed as possible.

“In this way, relaxation of the body becomes selective as we only engage the muscles that are needed. This technique can be employed in everyday activity to alleviate unnecessary stresses and strains on the body,” Muchazviona said. Most importantly, Pilates is good when it comes to posture. Poorly aligned postures causes asymmetrical muscle development, meaning certain muscle groups are constantly overworking to hold the body upright, while others become significantly weakened, said the fitness guru. Even our favourite sports, such as golf, tennis, and running, encourage lopsided and uneven muscle development — as does carrying a briefcase or handbag on one side of your body, or balancing an infant on the same hip for hours on end wearing high heels for too long.

“Pilates can be a wonderful solution to all these poor postural habits because the exercises encourage bilateral, even muscle development and flexibility at the same time. A good Pilates workout doesn’t have to be long or exhausting — but it can and will rebalance your body over time,” he said.Speaking at the event, Head of Retail Banking at Standard Chartered Bank, Pedzani Tafa had this to say about the event: “We wanted to emphasise the combination of a sound mind, sound body and sound financial decisions. When we have client engagements like this, it is a chance for us to say thank you to our clients and also to highlight a number of products that will assist them in making sound financial decisions that will benefit them in the long- run,” she said.

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