Pilates for beginners: Explore the core

Pilates may sound intimidating, but it's an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Pilates for beginners — is that an oxymoron? Not at all. Pilates isn't just for fitness fiends. Pilates is an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. If you're considering a Pilates class for beginners, here's what you need to know before you head to the gym.

What exactly is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes use of the abdominals, lower back, hips and thighs. Pilates is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed the exercises in the early 1900s.

A Pilates routine typically includes 25 to 50 repetitive strength training exercises. Pilates is similar to calisthenics, such as situps and pushups. In fact, some people call Pilates the ultimate form of calisthenics.

Is Pilates for beginners?

It's a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren't the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.

Another common misperception is that Pilates requires specialized equipment. Indeed, when you think of Pilates you probably picture the reformer, an apparatus that resembles a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs, or the cadillac, a type of trapeze table. The reality is that many Pilates exercises can be done on the floor with just a mat.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

By practicing Pilates regularly, you can achieve a number of health benefits, including:

  • Improved core strength and stability
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Improved flexibility
  • Prevention and treatment of back pain
Feb. 05, 2014 See more In-depth

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