Friday, January 23, 2009

Flat Abs?! Yes please!

Pilates has definitely been a buzzword in the celebrity fitness world as of lately. Everyone from slim Gwyneth Paltrow to hard body Madonna seems to be doing Pilates. Apparently, it works!
Pilates focuses on strengthening your body's core muscles (abs, back, etc..) which help to keep the body more balanced and promote good posture. Not only will this help you function better in your daily life, but as a result your abs will be tighter and mightier than ever! Regularly doing Pilates has shown amazing results time and again, resulting in greater weight loss, improved muscle tone, and decreased back pain!
Pilates is simple enough for even the most inexperienced beginners and difficult enough for the biggest fitness enthusiast.
I hate to admit, but I definitely was humbled by a doing a few bouts of Pilates. I weight train and do cardio consistently and pretty intensely. I definitely take my training quite seriously. I'm no stranger to core training, I understand the components of a thorough core workout and regularly incorporate them into my workouts. As a result, I have a flat belly, with increasingly lovely ab definition. (Which I am quite proud of!) So, I think that this Pilates will be a walk in the park. It definitely appears decieving with it's relaxing "yoga-like" feel. After being lulled into a false sense of security, I began to proceed through several workout DVDs. Throughout the workout I was fine, probably as a result of regularly using my core already, but let me tell you, the next day and week after invoked the most pain I have ever felt in my abs. EVER! A good pain though...the pain that reminds you of how worthwhile a workout really is!
It is amazing experience for those of you newbies who may have been curious about it. And as for you hard core gym goers- if you want an awesome new workout to complement to your ab and core workout, toss this wild card in there!

More good news- Pilates is safe and beneficial for ALL ages! Which means, if you are a mommy and you feel you don't have time to exercise, you can certainly invite your little ones to join, and still get an amazing workout in just 20 minutes if you're really pressed for time! You can show your kids that being healthy is fun, easy, and makes them feel good! If you can promote a healthy lifestyle in your children while they are still young, then the chances of them maintaining that lifestyle as they get older is much greater, which will reduce their risks of developing high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, and it will help them maintain a healthy weight and mind! :)

Seniors have something to get excited about when it comes to Pilates too! Many older folks tend to avoid any structured exercise for fear of not being able to do them. There are however modified workouts developed those over 50! Pilates can be extremely beneficial to the older community by strengthening core muscles as well as the entire body. By doing so you are also reducing the odds of any bone fractures, reducing arthritis pain, increasing flexibility which can increase mobility for those who have a hard time getting around. Of course always consult your physician before beginning any workout problem, especially is you have any pre existing health conditions.

Here is a list of the key benefits of doing Pilates:

Tone and build long, lean muscles without bulk.
Reduce stress, relieve tension, and boost energy through deep stretching.
Restore postural alignment.
Create a stronger, more flexible spine.
Increase joint range of motion.
Improve circulation.
Heighten neuromuscular coordination.
Offer relief from back pain and joint stress.
Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury.
Enhance mobility, agility and stamina.
Compliment sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity.
Improve the way your body looks and feels.

While Pilates is an amazing workout, I do recommend using it in addition to a workout plan consisting of resistance/weight training and regular cardio. Don't forget to try to maintain a healthy diet and nutrition program which will enhance the efforts you are making in your weight loss goals!

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