You may remember the leg lifts your mother used to do in the ’80s and ’90s, thinking that’s what pilates is all about. And, while leg lifts can certainly come as part of the flow, pilates actually includes functional movements that feel good and refrain from taxing your system too heavily. Similar to yoga, this type of exercise focuses on the connection between breath and movement, helping reduce stress while strengthening your muscles.
In addition to its toning benefits, pilates has also been found to mitigate lower back pain and rehabilitate injuries, according to the Greatist. In fact, a 2014 survey found that these types of classes improved body awareness, posture and movement control in those who struggled with low back issues, the outlet notes. But, on top of toning, lengthening and stretching, pilates, like many workouts, will have you feeling better mentally. With a focus on feeling and breathing, pilates classes get you out of your head and back into the present.
But, if you’ve never taken a class and associate pilates with the large machines and straps, know that many classes don’t require equipment at all. In fact, many involve just body-weight movements that provide a steady state of resistance.
Body weight pilates can make a bigger difference than you think
Do about 10 minutes of pilates on your mat and you’ll know how tough it can be without equipment to help you. In fact, body-weight exercises may be tougher than those with props. Sarah James, founder of Pilates by Sarah James, tells Well+Good, “Mat work can be the hardest if you have limitations, because you don’t have any equipment to assist you. It forces you to connect to your core with no help — which rocks. Most of my clients have been saying that they’re feeling their abs more when focusing on a mat class.”
With your core activated throughout each of the movements, you’ll be feeling the burn in various areas. According to the outlet, your abs are working hard no matter what, even if you’re performing movements seemingly targeted towards other areas like leg-strengthening exercises. For these types of workouts, all you need is a mat and a screen to watch an instructor.
If you’re looking for a more intense version, you can try the movements with small weights. But, if you’ve never done pilates before, it’s best to start without props to learn the exercises with proper form. You’ll be feeling it and seeing a difference in no time, even without the extras.
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