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… and I am going to tell you How!
Honestly! People often share the benefits of Pilates in terms that might feel vague to the uninitiated: You’ll strengthen your core! You’ll develop long, lean muscles! But real talk here? Pilates WILL help improve your balance. Pilates WILL help increase your agility. and I am going to tell you How!
BALANCE is the ability to maintain equilibrium when stationary or moving. In other words, balance keeps you from falling down. Static balance means the ability to retain the center of mass above the base of support in a stationary position–simply put: not falling over in a still position. Dynamic balance, however, is the ability to maintain balance with body movement–not falling over while you are moving!
Balance is all about strength and proprioception. Physical strength refers to the measure of a human’s exertion of force on physical objects. Strength can also refer to the capacity to withstand great force or pressure, or the ability of a muscle or muscle group to overcome a resistance. Physical strength is your ability to complete physical tasks under your own steam, with your own body, using your own strength. The goal of strength training is to increase that physical strength.
Proprioception, otherwise known as kinesthesia, is your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location. Basically, your body’s ability to know where it is and what it’s doing in space. It encompasses a complex of sensations, including perception of joint position and movement, muscle force, and effort.
AGILITY is the ability to move quickly and easily. It has been defined as “a rapid whole-body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus”. Agility or nimbleness is an ability to change the body’s position quickly and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance.
Words, words, words! How exactly, you want to know, does Pilates increase the strength of your feet, your legs, your trunk, your “powerhouse”? Strength is increased through load. That load could be your own body weight, handheld weights, a band or spring resistance. We challenge an individual’s strength by increasing (or sometimes decreasing) resistance or load, and increasing repetition.
Lunges and squats are two examples of compound exercises–exercises that challenge multiple muscle groups–that help build leg strength, foot strength, and core strength. By adding or subtracting resistance muscle strength is challenged. By changing the distribution of weight, adding movement, or changing the surface (standing on a Bosu, for example), we can also challenge a person’s proprioception. You probably feel more stable in a squat–where the feet are side by side–than a lunge–where feet are staggered. And you probably feel more stable standing on the floor than standing on a Bosu or on the Reformer. And you probably feel more stable squatting with a kettlebell in both hands than squatting while twisting with the strap in hand on the reformer, right? Adding and subtracting load or resistance, stability, choreography, etc., will challenge your brain and your body in different ways. But all of these add up to improving your balance and agility!
For more insight into how Pilates WILL improve your balance and agility, helpful tips, and exercises to try, follow us throughout the month of February on social media and join us at the studio for classes and more!
Retrofit Master Instructor
Lead Instructor/Operations Associate