Developed by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s, the physical fitness system originally went by another name. Previously called "contrology", in reference to the art of control, the Pilates method of physical fitness is now practised regularly by millions worldwide. Step into any gym, and you would be hard pressed not to find a few Pilates classes on the week’s schedule.
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Speaking of control, Pilates is all about extreme precision and being organised, so you will not enjoy it if you prefer freestyle exercises. Everything about Pilates is calm and methodical, with a great emphasis on the breathing, the movement and of course, great posture.
The essence of Pilates can be best defined by its resistance training, which has been scientifically proven to improve on your metabolism, which will in turn encourage the burning of calories – all day long. Though cardio is an effective method to burn calories quickly, the exercise is only as good as your current session. It may be surprising but in contrast, Pilates offers resistance training that trumps aerobic workouts, keeping metabolic rate elevated hours after the actual workout.
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Though you would not view Pilates as a high intensity workout that keeps your heart vigorously pumping and your body drenched in sweat, the activity is no walk in the park. It takes considerable strength to complete a session satisfactorily, and better yet, it works the entire body. Try doing The Hundred exercise in Pilates, which more advanced practitioners can hold for a hundred beats. While doing so, notice how every part of your body is being worked, from your abs to your legs.
When practising Pilates, it is also important to breathe properly. In fact, there is a whole technique dedicated to the art of breathing properly. The slow movements Pilates incorporates into each workout are accompanied by consciously breathing in and breathing out. Notice how there is a lot of emphasis on exhaling as you try expelling all the air from your lungs? Kind of like how you might wring out a wet towel. Breathing well is key.
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