It seems like every couple of years there is some new and improved exercise plan (remember Sweating to the Oldies?). One of the latest crazes is Pilates. Don’t let the name scare you off, because this may be the new workout you have been looking for.
Pilates combines cardio, stretching, and Yoga-like regimes to create a workout unlike any other. As an added bonus, Pilates is also excellent for your posture and flexibility. In this article we’ll look at everything you ever wanted to know about Pilates but were afraid to ask.
What Is It?
Originally created in the 20’s by Joseph H. Pilates, Pilates exercise is a regime that is designed to refresh your body and mind, without adding bulk. Many of the first people to get involved in the program were those that wanted to increase their strength, flexibility and cardio, without adding muscle. The Pilates method addresses those concerns, and has proven to be very effective in toning and shaping the body. The claim often made by those that use Pilates is that they look forward to each workout. And judging by the multitude of websites, videos and books out there about Pilates, the claim must be an accurate one.
How Do I Get Started?
If you already belong to a gym, then the chances are the personal trainers at your club are certified instructors in Pilates. If they are not certified, or if you do not belong to a gym, then you have several options:
1. Buy a video – there are several popular Pilates videos for sale online and at nearly every video store, as well as most health equipment stores. Two of the more popular versions are Winsor Pilates and Stott Pilates.
2. Buy a book – there are as many books available as there are videos, and this might be the way to go if you like to read. Most come with detailed drawings or pictures, and many come with cd’s.
3. Find a certified instructor – nearly all of the sites we list below offer a Pilates instructor locator. The locator will give you the location of instructors in your area. You can often find adds for Pilates studios in the local papers as well, so make sure you look around. In most cases you do not have to join a gym in order to take classes.
Most of the websites and videos we looked at offer a very limited view of their program, since they all want you to buy their videos and books. Nevertheless, here is a breakdown of three of the mot popular Pilates programs on the market.
The Pilates Studio
This is the site of the founder of the Pilates movement. They have a long list of celebrities and athletes who endorse and use the method. It involves a series of exercises using their equipment and their instructors. The equipment ranges from $110 (US) to $399, and is the same equipment used in their studios. You can also order books and videos to go with your equipment, with prices ranging from $9.99 to $39.99. They have strict certification standards, so if you are looking for an instructor you may want to look at the fine print on their degree to see where it came from.
Created by professional dancer Mari Winsor, this program broke through in LA in the early 1990’s. Her methods are based on the Joseph H. Pilates original concept. She has a long list of celebrities who use her studios and products, including Daisy Fuentes. ‘Dynamic Sequencing’ is the key concept behind the Winsor method, an idea behind the body-sculpting, calorie burning workout. The site offers several video and book combination packages, at reasonable prices ranging from $39.90-$79.80. The workouts are designed to focus on specific parts of the body, and some include additional diet plans.
This program focuses on “breath, core conditioning and body awareness.” Founded by a former dancer and her partner, this is arguably one of the most successful programs available. They have a lot of equipment to choose from, as well as many video packages. Their site is very organized and allows you the option of shopping by your country of choice. They also offer education for future instructors who want to become a certified Stott Pilates instructor.
Go For It!
If you are still confused after looking over all of this information, then your best bet might be to check with your family and friends. Chances are good that someone close to you have been doing Pilates now for a few years, so you might be able to get some inside info about what program is the best. Another option might be to try a drop-in session at the local YMCA, or your local gym. Most allow people to drop in for the day to try out their services, particularly if you are a potential customer.