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Focus On Pilates: What Is It and Why It's Good For You

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

When it comes to achieving or maintaining a great, physically fit body, we all know that eating right and exercising get lots of credit...but when it comes to toning, shaping and burning calories, it's all about the exercise. And, lately many a Hollywood hotties are attributing their new and improved physical looks to Pilates.

Pilates is a form of exercise that was "invented" by Joseph Pilates and that was given "shape" after his passing in 1967. In fact his "cause" was taken up by former students and those in the medical profession and in the fitness community, giving it further credence.

Its premise: focusing on core muscle movement surrounding the spine and moving outward toward the external muscles that extend to the torso and limbs. These specific controlled movements and poses were designed to help with good alignment and posture while also helping create muscle strength and improved body tone without bulking or building muscle. And, just like any form of exercise pilates offers a range of exercises from simple/gentle to more rigorous and demanding.

Pilates, while, it has been around since before the late 60s has seemed to gain popularity in recent years as more and more fitness "gurus" and their students embrace this structured form of health, fitness and staying in shape. It is also very appealing because it is a form of fitness that can be done and enjoyed by almost anyone and everyone. In fact there are a range of classes ranging from geriatric and post-surgery to strenuous routines for athletes in training and those who want to refine endurance and performance.

Because pilates is all about core (or center) control, tummies and mid-sections seem to improve quite quickly. Still, because pilates methodically works through all the muscles in the body, most can see and feel a distinct difference within 5-10 sessions. In fact, besides improved posture and body tone, Pilates helps lessen aches and pains, especially in the back, neck, shoulders and hips.

Classes are, or at least should be, small so that the instructor can focus on proper technique and have the room and freedom to pay close attention to each student in the class. Classes are also fashioned with people with various abilities and needs in mind making it easy for the instructor to conduct a multi-level session that accommodates everyone....and there are exercises for those beginners to advanced.

Note that if you have not done Pilates before it is mandatory to do a group Fundamental course, usually 4 sessions or several private sessions to familiarize yourself with the basic exercises, pilates principles and equipment setup.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Focus On Pilates: What Is It and Why It's Good For You

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