Pilates: the Perfect Workout for Baby Boomers

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a body conditioning system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s that helps build strength and flexibility in the legs, arms, abs, hips and back. The exercises of Pilates emphasize pelvic and spinal alignment, breathing to maximize oxygen flow through the body and the development of a strong core for improved balance and coordination.

Joseph Pilates designed the routines believing that the body’s physical and mental development were inter-related. His admiration for the Greek athletes and dancers of his time were his inspiration in developing the system that is now widely used in fitness centers, gyms and by physiotherapists worldwide.

Pilates for All Ages and Fitness Levels

People of all ages and fitness levels may perform Pilates exercises and because it’s low-impact, a Pilates workout is ideal for the 50+ crowd as well as for those that suffer joint and back pain. If you’re just beginning to incorporate physical fitness into your lifestyle, you’ll find that in three workouts per week you’ll soon see improved strength, stamina, posture and balance.

Pilates Workouts Strengthen Core Muscle Groups

Keeping a strong core as we age will help with improved body alignment which in turn results in increased muscle firmness; imagine less sagging and a more youthful look and feel. Individuals with joint pain will especially love the benefits of strengthening the back, neck and shoulder muscle groups helping alleviate pain in the joints. Each class is an overall head-to-toe workout with a gradual build in intensity.

Classical and Contemporary Pilates

When Pilates was created, the equipment used in workouts was mainly for resistance training. Pilates classes today make use of weighted balls, resistance bands, rotating disks and exercise balls. There are two schools of thought on Pilates training, the original method or Classical/Authentic Pilates and Contemporary or Modern Pilates. Classical Pilates classes perform non-varying routines that stay close to Joseph Pilates original workouts using equipment as documented in his writings where contemporary Pilates vary the order of the routines from class to class.

Centering and Control Achieves Gracefulness

Joseph Pilates referred to his method of exercise as ‘Contrology’ meaning that there’s nothing random about a Pilates routine. All movement is controlled and while working each muscle group, thorough attention is given to each movement performed ensuring that it is done in a perfectly controlled manner; the underlying philosophy being control over the body.

To achieve control, the individual begins at the center or focal point of the body working the core muscles of the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, butt and thighs. All Pilates movement begins at the center and flows outward through the limbs.

The flow of a Pilates workout is elegant and elegance is achieved through smooth transitions between exercises. Achieving precision in each routine will build strength and in turn, stamina will increase. The goal is that precision becomes second nature in workouts and then carries over into daily life in the form of gracefulness.

Pilates Classes for Boomers

As Baby Boomers age and the desire to keep fit and to alleviate back and joint pain increases, Pilates classes with their gentle strength and coordination training are increasing in popularity. Classes targeting the 50 plus age group are fairly easy to find and retirement communities worldwide have begun to offer Pilates workouts to their residents. As its creator Joseph Pilates practiced his routines well into his 80s, seniors today are also enjoying the benefits of core strength and balance that the workouts produce.

In an interview about Pilates classes in the seniors community of South Windsor, residents comment that the healthy benefits of Pilates classes are not just for the body but also for the mind and soul.

By Alice Lucette

Alice Lucette

Alice Lucette is an expert blogger for SeniorsZen.com.

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