Pilates gains popularity with men, women

By Master Sgt. Drake Davidson

An 80-year-old exercise is quickly gaining in popularity across the Air Force and America. Pilates is an innovative exercise program that focuses on strength, agility, economy of motion, flexibility and the mind-body connection. The end results are a sleek body with defined abdominals, firmer higher “glutes” and toned thighs.
Top athletes incorporate Pilates into their workout to help prevent injuries, build strength and improve flexibility. Additionally, many professional sports teams in the NBA and NFL include Pilates in their fitness training. The most obvious reason Pilates is for men as well as women is because the creator of Pilates was Joseph Pilates.
Pilates is derived from more than 20 years of Joseph Pilates’ self study and his apprenticeship in martial arts, boxing, ancient Roman and Greek physical regimes, yoga and Zen. He called his regiment “controlology.” His exercises focus on slow, controlled movements with resistance.
Joseph Pilates began teaching his form of exercise while he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. When World War I broke out he was interned with other German nationals where he worked in the camp hospital. These exercises were so effective that not only did his patients recover from their injuries, but everyone survived the great flu epidemic of 1918 that took 30 million lives.
When Joseph was asked about the effectiveness of his exercise program he humbly replied, “there must be something to this.”
During conventional exercises weak muscles tend to get weaker, and strong muscles tend to get stronger. This can result in muscular imbalance, a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body so no muscle group is over trained or under trained.
The whole musculature is evenly conditioned and balanced enabling the body to pursue daily activities with greater ease and less risk of injury.
Pilates is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise programs in the world. Perhaps one reason is because Pilates connects the mind with the breath leaving people with an overall sense of peace and tranquility. Pilates helps lower blood pressure, pulse rate and anxiety.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiologist, wrote a book titled “You: on a Diet.” He and colleague Dr. Michael Roizen wrote about the dangers of belly fat. They write: “studies are now indicating that it is your waist circumference, not your weight, that is the most important indicator of mortality due to being overweight.”
Pilates targets the waistline. Joseph Pilates refers to it as the “powerhouse.” Furthermore, the doctors say, “because of the proximity to your organs, your belly fat is the most dangerous fat you can carry.”
Drs. Oz and Roizen tell us we can eliminate inches from waistlines through a healthy diet and exercise. They also say women’s waistlines need to be 32 inches or less and men 35 inches and under to maintain good health.
In their book, they wrote that 99 percent of exercise regimes incorporate yoga and Pilates. Pilates is yoga based and the two forms of exercise are inseparable.
Benefits of consistent Pilates workouts (two to three times a week):
— Strengthening of core muscles and extremities;
— Muscular endurance increase;
— Coordination and balance improvement;
— Flexibility increase;
— Posture improvement, resulting in less chance of injuries, muscle tension and chronic low back pain;
— Increases stress management ability. Pilates engages muscular and cardiovascular systems releasing endorphins that help keep bodies healthier physically and psychologically; and
— Trimmer waistline.
Pilates classes are held 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Fitness Center. Call 784-2466 for more information.