Pilates was developed in the early 20th century, and during World War I in 1914, this technical and stretching routine that strengthens the core was used to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. Now it has become a part of our fitness routine simply because it is easy to adapt, especially if your body is used to yoga. If you’re a yoga practitioner, you can even do Pilates routines seamlessly for variety and consistency.
It is not high intensity and a 2021 Chinese study conducted by the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine found that Pilates effectively reduces body weight and body fat percentage in obese participants. These effects were only more pronounced in obese people. In addition, the study found that the longer a person practiced Pilates, the more significant the weight loss was. In fact, overweight people should choose Pilates because it doesn’t put as much stress on the joints as certain other forms of exercise, such as running or swimming.
Biomechanically, Pilates works according to the basic principle of physiotherapy. Both yoga and Pilates are low-impact exercises and they have some similarities. They help strengthen musculoskeletal structure and build neuromuscular coordination. They basically work on the functions of balance, coordination, stability and inner strength. Together they provide a complete body workout.
Before you begin the various range of motion exercises in Pilates, stabilize your core and focus on body awareness and control. One of the many reasons people are drawn to this activity is that it helps with muscle growth without leading to any bulk. When performing a Pilates exercise, you must maintain control of your movements to ensure proper form at all times. Full and precise control of the body and movement is necessary for the best results. While maintaining core stability, time your breathing with all of your actions. You can avoid holding tension anywhere in your body by constantly pumping air in and out of your body. Be sure to focus on core engagement, proper body alignment and placement rather than the number of sets you do. You can start with dynamic movements that slowly move towards stability.
All Pilates exercises are powered by the center of the body, which consists of the abdomen, pelvic floor, hips and lower back. Therefore, all Pilates movements should start in the center before moving outward to other parts of the body. They can be done with or without the help of equipment.
THE FULL BODY FAT BURNOUT SEQUENCE
1) Sit with legs and hands stretched out in front. Scoop the tailbone back, inhale and come forward. For more intensity, one can stretch the hands upwards. With breath awareness, repeat the forward and backward movements 20 times.
2) In a sitting position, spread your legs slightly and touch your toes alternately. Works great for your back, hamstrings, inner thighs and obliques. Do 10 times on each side.
3) Then raise one of your legs, stretch it wide and try to balance yourself on your hips. Pull your stomach back and hold it for as long as you can.
4) If you want to challenge yourself, you can do so in a kneeling position, keeping the hand down for support. Exhale, lift your leg and try to touch your elbow to the knee. Repeat 10 times on each side.
5) Move to the side plank. Lie on your side with your knees bent and support your upper body on your elbow. Lift your hips off the floor and hold for six seconds. Rest another 10. Repeat these up and down movements from the hip area to burn out those love handles. Repeat 10-20 times on each side.
6) Get into the plank position by placing the forearms on the floor with the elbows aligned under the shoulders and the arms parallel to your body about shoulder-width apart. Exhale and go forward. Then inhale and move back towards the heel. Rock yourself forward and backward, focusing on the core. Do it 10 – 20 times according to your capacity.
7) Then do a half plank to a full plank 10 times.
8) Lie on your back, lift your upper back slightly, fold your leg alternately, repeat 10 times. Then try the same move with both legs together.
9) Lie down, rotate your right leg clockwise and counterclockwise 10 times. Keep the abdomen stable as the leg moves. Repeat on the other side. It is a perfect exercise to open the hip joint.
10) Then, at the end, fold both legs, hug yourself and move forward and backward. This back rock and roll is great for relaxing your back muscles while working your core.
Pilates exercises are a bit more intense and all of the above should only be done under expert guidance.
(Dr. Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A bestselling author, his latest book is called ‘Weightless’. He has been named FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India)
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