Pilates for beginners: basics and techniques for effective body training

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Editorial ET

Pilates basics – Pilates is a training method that offers you a holistic, full-body workout. It combines physical exercises with conscious breathing to promote both your physical and mental health. The focus is on tensioning your deep abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles, which together form the so-called “powerhouse” of your body. This powerhouse is central to stability and strength during exercises.

Pilates is about strengthening your muscles, improving your flexibility while optimizing your balance and posture. The method places great emphasis on the precision and control of every movement, which leads to better body awareness. By connecting body and mind, Pilates offers an excellent opportunity to increase both your physical fitness and your mental well-being.

In Pilates, the basic principles play a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness and safety of the training. Each of these principles has a specific function and helps you get the most out of your Pilates training.

Basic principles of Pilates

  1. Centering:
    • This principle refers to activating your core, especially the powerhouse. The powerhouse involves the deep muscles of your core, including the pelvic floor, abdominal and lower back muscles. Activating this central muscle group creates a stable base for all movements.
  2. Precision:
    • Precision in Pilates means performing each movement with maximum accuracy. It's less about the number of repetitions and more about the quality of each individual movement. This promotes deeper body awareness and more effective muscle activation.
  3. Flow of movement:
    • In Pilates, movements should be fluid and uninterrupted. This promotes the grace and efficiency of the exercises. The smooth transition from one movement to the next also helps maintain heart rate and improve mobility.
  4. Breathing:
    • Breathing in Pilates is deep and controlled, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Breathing is closely linked to movements and supports the activation of the powerhouse.
  5. Control:
    • Control is at the heart of Pilates. It's about performing each movement with full attention and using the right muscles. This principle helps prevent injuries and maximize the effectiveness of any exercise.
  6. Concentration:
    • Concentration in Pilates means concentrating fully on performing the exercises. This not only increases the effectiveness of the training, but also promotes mental clarity and relaxation.

Important terms and techniques:

  • The powerhouse:
    • Activating the powerhouse is crucial for stability and strength in your Pilates training. It involves consciously controlling and tensing the deep abdominal and back muscles.
  • The Pilates box:
    • The Pilates Box is a visualization technique that helps you align your body correctly during exercises. It represents an imaginary rectangle formed by your shoulders and hips and helps stabilize the spine during exercise.
  • Foot positions:
    • “Point” and “Flex” are two important foot positions in Pilates. “Point” refers to straightening the foot, while “flex” refers to bending the foot. These poses are used to activate different muscle groups.
  • Shoulder position:
    • Correct shoulder posture is important to avoid tension in the neck and ensure correct alignment of the upper body. The shoulders should relax and slide down and away from the ears.

Pilates exercises

For anyone looking to get started with Pilates, there are a variety of exercises that are great for beginners. These exercises strengthen different muscle groups and improve flexibility, balance and posture. Here are some recommended exercises and tips to get you started with Pilates:

  1. Hundreds: A classic Pilates exercise that strengthens the core muscles. This exercise involves pumping movements that should coordinate breathing and pay attention to the connection between the shoulders and torso.
  2. Saw: This exercise is great for stretching the back and hamstrings. It is important to keep the pelvis neutral and calm throughout the entire exercise and to carry out the movement in a controlled manner.
  3. Shoulder bridge: Suitable for strengthening glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and back muscles. The shoulders should remain relaxed and there should be no body weight on the neck.
  4. Roll up & roll down: These exercises strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and improve flexibility in the back and neck. It is important to roll up and down vertebra by vertebra without gaining momentum.
  5. Bridge: In this exercise, the back is rolled from the floor, starting from the tailbone, vertebra by vertebra, until it rests between the shoulders, and then rolled again.

To get started with Pilates effectively, it is also important to understand the basics of Pilates technique, such as the powerhouse, neutral pelvic position and correct breathing. The powerhouse, which includes the core of the body, is the center of strength for movements and is important for good posture. The neutral pelvic position helps achieve optimal spinal alignment, and proper breathing supports the exercises and helps release tension and reduce stress.

These principles and techniques form the foundation for effective and safe Pilates training. By incorporating it into your routine, you can enjoy the full benefits of this method.

Pilates is a journey, not a destination. Regular practice and patience are essential to mastering the techniques of Pilates. As with any other form of training, strength, flexibility and an understanding of your own body movements develop over time. Every exercise, every session brings you a little closer to your goal of deeper body awareness and improved well-being. Give yourself the time you need to make progress and recognize that every day is different.

It is also important to understand that the intensity of exercise in Pilates varies depending on your skill level and experience. As a beginner, you may need to focus on the basics, while advanced practitioners can perform more intense and complex movements. Every body is unique, and so is every Pilates experience. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity of your training according to your individual needs and abilities. Pilates is flexible and can be adapted to different fitness levels and needs, making it a versatile and inclusive training method.

Remember that the journey is more important than the destination. Enjoy every moment of your Pilates practice and watch your body and mind develop and strengthen over time.

FAQ – Pilates

  1. What is Pilates and what benefits does it offer?
    • Answer: Pilates is a holistic body workout that focuses on strengthening core muscles, improving flexibility and promoting mental well-being. It combines controlled movements with breathing techniques. The benefits of Pilates include improved posture, increased muscle strength and flexibility, reduced stress and better body awareness.
  2. Is Pilates suitable for beginners and how do I get started?
    • Answer: Yes, Pilates is definitely suitable for beginners. You can get started by attending a beginners course with a certified trainer or through online videos. It's important to start with basic exercises and gradually work your way up to more challenging movements.
  3. Do I need special equipment for Pilates?
    • Answer: For most Pilates exercises, all you need is a mat. Other aids such as balls, bands or Pilates rings can supplement the training, but are not absolutely necessary, especially for beginners.
  4. How often should I practice Pilates to see results?
    • Answer: Regular practice of 2-3 times per week is recommended to achieve visible and noticeable results. Consistency is more important than the length or intensity of each individual session.
  5. Can Pilates help with back pain?
    • Answer: Yes, Pilates can be effective in relieving back pain. It strengthens the core muscles and improves posture, resulting in relief from the back. However, it is advisable to seek medical advice before beginning a Pilates program, especially if you are experiencing acute back pain.
  6. What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
    • Answer: Although both Pilates and yoga emphasize mind-body connection, the main difference lies in alignment. Yoga focuses more on increasing flexibility, balance and relaxation through different postures and breathing techniques. Pilates, on the other hand, focuses more on strengthening the core muscles, improving posture and increasing body control. However, both practices complement each other perfectly.
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Editorial ET

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