Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen the body and mind, and was developed nearly a century ago by Joseph Pilates. Although it’s been around for many years and widely practiced all over the world, there are still many misconceptions about Pilates. Today, we clear up the top five myths surrounding Pilates.
Myth 1: Pilates is only for women
The truth is, Pilates was originally created with men in mind and was only adapted later for women! Founder Joseph Pilates was a bodybuilder, boxer, gymnast, and dancer. He wanted to create a system to help improve strength, structural alignment, and athletic performance while reducing the risk of injuries.
Need further convincing? There are plenty of male athletes who make use of Pilates to complement their weight training and cardio. Some examples include basketball stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and golf champion Tiger Woods.
Myth 2: Pilates only works out my core
It’s true that Pilates does place an emphasis on your core, especially the deeper abdominal muscles. However, building up your core goes beyond just giving you a flatter-looking tummy. By strengthening your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, you’re boosting your overall strength, stability, and freedom of motion. Pilates is also grounded in several key principals – control, centering, concentration, breath, flow, and precision. All these prime your body for daily activities such as lifting, pushing, turning, and reaching.
Myth 3: Pilates is the same as yoga
On the surface, Pilates and Yoga may seem like similar fitness activities, but they are actually very different. For one, yoga has its roots in religion (originating more than 5,000 years ago in India) whereas Pilates was created with rehabilitation and physical conditioning in mind.
Second, the breathing and concentration techniques used in Pilates and Yoga is quite different. In flow-based Yoga classes, you’ll need to breathe in and out through your nose, matching your deep breaths to the movements and postures. However, in Pilates, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
Third, Pilates classes offer a complete body workout, with a focus on aligning your spine and strengthening your core. In yoga, you tend to work each muscle in your body equally, with no specific emphasis on any particular muscle group.
Myth 4: Pilates requires the use of special machines
Step into any Pilates studio and you’ll immediately notice the strange-looking machines. While this collection of apparatus (springs, bars, pulleys, and straps) offers you a productive workout, you can still have a fruitful Pilates session without them. In fact, all the basic movement principles of Pilates can be done on a simple mat! These mat exercises can be customised to suit any fitness level and are great for working on your basics. Once you’ve gained confidence in the Pilates method, you can move on to the equipment and reap even more benefits.
Myth 5: Pilates is unsuitable for me if I have an injury
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Pilates places emphasis on building core strength, balance, and flexibility, which are also the same principles that are used in treating common orthopedic problems. By focusing on control of movement and tailoring each session to the individual’s capabilities, rehabilitative Pilates prevents further injury to the body. It’s also a low-impact exercise, which means it will not provoke any inflammation or overuse syndromes. Finally, unlike traditional physiotherapy where clients lie down and the therapist does all the work, clients learn to be responsible for their own rehabilitation. Clients will learn to read their body better and identify the best movement sequence for themselves. This contributes to a more positive movement experience, which speeds up the recovery process.