Pilates; A Balanced Approach To Functional Fitness

The term functional training is thrown around a lot in the health and fitness industry. But what does it actually mean? Functional training reflects common daily actions. It refers to the act of many muscles all over your body working together to produce movement. This movement is needed to support or move your body effectively, efficiently and safely.

The wondrous method of Pilates does all these things, and more. All movement generated in your Pilates sessions is based around mobilising and strengthening muscular networks. Groups of muscles such as your core are continually switched on even when you’ve directed your focus and movement somewhere else, such as your arms or legs. As all your muscles work together, they strengthen in relation to one another. You develop greater symmetrical muscular strength. In other words, your become more balanced all over your body.

Think of the times in life you’ve needed to squat to pick up a heavy box, curl your arm to pick up your grocery bags or engage your core to steady yourself. Pilates routines are so effective that the functional movement you do in your session may even be better than what you do in real life. This is because your Pilates routine always targets the left and right sides of the body, where as in real life we tend to favour one side only. Have you ever tried brushing your teeth with your ‘other’ hand? It goes to show when using only one side of our body we develop strength, flexibility, coordination and body awareness at different degrees, and this can completely throw us out of whack.

Research by Medical Professors for the Brazilian Journal of Sports Medicine recorded greater postural alignment in Pilates participants after only 16 sessions. Why is this so important? Not only does it make for more efficient functional movement in everyday life, but these findings correlated with a significant reduction in pain experienced by the participants.

Back pain is a major health concern in our society. It robs people of their quality of life. Medical support for chronic conditions can come at a great financial cost. This places an economic burden not only on those suffering but also the taxpayer. Pilates is a method that can safely and effectively correct postural alignment and bring relief to all those suffering from the effects of muscular and skeletal imbalances. Pilates help you to look after yourself. If we can support the health of each individual, we help a healthy community to thrive.

Strength and flexibility. These are the foundation of a human body’s functional movement and every body possess different amounts of both. Pilates helps to bring the qualities of strength and flexibility into balanced harmony. Many other types of exercise focus on one area, whether it be purely developing muscle, focusing on the heart and lungs in cardio fitness or specifically aiming to increase flexibility. Pilates does it all. You work with your own body weight to focus on developing effective mobility through training that is tailor made for your body.

To find that optimal state of health, we need to feel that balance. As always in life, we need that Yin and Yang. At times we need to be sad and happy, firm and soft, open and reserved. Pilates develops strength and flexibility so they can be used together in functional ways. So you can move easier through life, so you can eliminate pain and so you can feel healthier and happier in your balanced self.