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Ten reasons to practice pilates

It can make you feel relaxed, elated and get you into seriously fit shape - so what's stopping you?

Pilates is a popular, core-strengthening workout involving a series of controlled movements combined with a breathing patterns. It will make you feel relaxed, elated and in seriously fit shape.

It’s no wonder that celebrities like Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz are such big fans. And just look at the bods on those babes! Keen to find out more, we chatted to Pilates specialist Sara Rounce. She’s co-chair of The Guild for Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Instructors, and founder of The Wellwoman Fitness Foundation which she runs from her home studio in Beacon Hill, near Hindhead, so this lady knows her Pilates stuff.

1. Gives you a more controlled and balanced body

Pilates is a complex form of exercises focussing on strength and mobility and works every muscle group in the body. The movements are slow and controlled enabling you to increase your self awareness and maintain symmetry and therefore iron out muscular or alignment imbalances working towards creating a balanced body.

2. Great for relieving stress and feeling energised yet relaxed

Pilates helps you focus the mind on your body and therefore switching off to all other external distractions. The exercises often involve lots of concentration to help you forget what else you had on your mind. The breathing technique helps to relieve mental stress as well as physical tension and relaxes the body yet making you feel energised at the same time.

3. Makes you taller 

Your posture will improve no end and with all the stretching and movements in Pilates. You will come out of your session feeling an inch taller! Working to improve your posture whether you are an athlete or an office worker, the exercises develop strength in the key areas of the body to prevent slouching.

4. Improves your fitness 

Not only will you get a great core and amazing abs, the rest of the body will become toned too. In the same way as weight training, Pilates uses the whole body weight as resistance so more calories are burned and metabolism is increased.

5. Reduces Back Pain

By strengthening the core and working on the alignment the whole body can be transformed and often these small but important changes can take away back pain in an instant. Joseph Pilates believed that poor posture and poor health were often linked.

6. Great through pregnancy and beyond

During these times the body changes a great deal. By keeping a strong core and properly functioning pelvic floor the body has the right tools for supporting the baby and the mother through pregnancy, birth and beyond. Postnatal recovery benefits greatly from exercises used in Pilates and works on regaining correct posture, re-gaining strength and mobility. A great way to ease back into exercise and can be done with baby by your side! Specific issues can also be addressed such as pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti (tummy separation).

7. Stay stronger and supple for longer

By maintaining bone strength and mobility of the whole body Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for those wishing to stay fit at all ages including later life. Pilates helps with balance and coordination as well as relieving stiffness and tension. Coming to a class is a nice way to meet others too.

8. Give you the basics to do other forms of exercise correctly and better

Pilates gives you a strong foundation to allow you to do other forms of exercise. Perhaps you love golf, funning, horse riding, gymnastics, or simply walking in the Surrey Hills! Whatever it might be, Pilates will teach you the fundamentals to enable you to do these other activities safely and effectively – a strong core is a good base for everything we do.

9. A great form of exercise through the different stages of women’s lives

Pilates-based movement and exercise is ideal to help the body through no only pre and postnatal but peri-menopausal, menopausal and later in life because it keeps the body moving in a safe way and the movements are often what the body needs to help it feel better and to keep supple and and strong – and that includes bone strength as well as muscle strength.

10. Great for rehab

Whether you are recovering from an operation, a hip or knee replacement or an injury, Pilates is often a good starting point to help the body det back into exercise, regaining strength, movement and body awareness. Often used in physiotherapy, Pilates classes are often recommended to clients by physios.

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