Michigan Fitness Association: What is Pilates?

Interest in Pilates has skyrocketed in the last several years, with Google Trends showing tripled growth over the last five years in the United States. However, despite its popularity, many people still don’t know what Pilates is or what it can do for them.

Pilates is a low-impact, primarily body-weight form of exercise that focuses on improving overall alignment, strength, stability, and balance. It was invented in the 1920s by German-born Joseph Pilates. Originally called “Contrology,” Pilates focuses on integrating mind and body through various controlled movements and exercises. These exercises aim to develop a strong, stable core and flexible spine to support proper posture and efficient movement patterns. Pilates is for everybody and is especially helpful for those with office jobs or seated for long periods. Pilates can be practiced one-on-one or in group classes. Pilates can be practiced on a mat or with equipment such as a Pilates Reformer, which uses a sliding platform and springs to provide varying levels of resistance and assistance. Other equipment includes the Cadillac and Wunda Chair. Machines like that can be accessed at Pilates studios and are used as part of a well-rounded and customized workout for individuals.

There are multiple variations of Pilates, like the aforementioned Reformer Pilates. Wall Pilates is another variation that has gained popularity for its increased resistance and accessibility. Mat Pilates is another type of Pilates that is very accessible and great for beginners as well as more advanced students.

Average Cost of Pilates

$100 – $200 per month

Does Pilates build muscle?

Many people confuse Pilates for yoga since they may appear similar. However, Pilates focuses more on physical conditioning than yoga, which has a broader spiritual and meditative component. Pilates emphasizes precise movements with proper alignment and breathing patterns to ensure optimal muscle activation and joint mobility. Yoga focuses on flexibility, mindfulness, and spiritual connection, while Pilates focuses on whole-body strength, stability, and mobility through controlled movements that improve posture and overall body alignment, sometimes using specialized equipment for added resistance and support. So yes, Pilates can help you build muscle.

How to get started with Pilates

You’ll have to decide between mat Pilates, which requires minimal equipment, can be done anywhere, and is usually taught in a group fitness class setting, or equipment-based Pilates, which uses specialized machines like reformers for added resistance and support. Next, look for local Pilates studios or gyms that offer the Pilates offering of your choice. There, an instructor can show you how to practice Pilates safely and effectively.

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