What is Pilates?

Before we distinguish between the Pilates reformer and mat, let’s take a step back and focus on where it all began- Joseph Pilates, developed a method of exercise called Contrology, as a technique for the mind to control the muscles. Contrology, today, is commonly known as Pilates.

Pilates focuses on controlled movements of the muscles. The practise generally uses all parts of the body to generate positive responses. Pilates was developed keeping physical fitness in mind and Joseph Pilates has spent more than 80 years in the research of perfecting the style.

Pilates lengthens your spine and tones your muscles instead of bulking you up. Heather Quiring, Master Pilates Instructor in Texas, says, “Pilates starts with activating the core muscles of the body and gets to the deeper muscles and the smaller muscle groups of the body. That is one of the reasons why it is so effective.”

Pilates Reformer

Joseph Pilates originally designed a dynamic equipment of exercise to help rehabilitate injured soldiers in World War 1. At the present time, the reformer is an advanced piece of equipment, commonly used by Pilates instructors in the practise of Pilates.

The modern bed-like structure has a board that slides and bands for arms and legs that can be pulled during the workout. It is built from springs that act as resistance and can be tailored as per the choice of each individual. Thus, it can be specifically designed for individual safety as well as individual experience.

In a Pilates reformer exercise, your body is always supported. The option of adding more resistance for a high endurance workout or the option of reducing resistance for a greater range of motion and heart burning workout, makes it a very versatile equipment. In effect, the types of exercises that can be performed on a reformer are multiple.

Pilates reformer is infamous among physical therapists who often use this equipment for physical rehabilitation. The choice of a horizontal range of motion opens up a wide range of reconstructive workouts for the injured or rehabilitation clients. Thus, it is one of the safest ways to workout. The structure and resistance of a reformer not only provides support to your body for an injury free workout, but it also provides greater challenges for your body!

A Pilates reformer workout also checks your body alignment for you; It can showcase your stronger muscles and take your attention to the muscles you refrain from using, subconsciously. It is basically an equipment that gives you a lot of feedback about your body that you can use for your own good. Evidently, you can definitely expect posture correction with the help of the reformer.

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates started with Joseph Pilates working on his body and trying to make it better everyday. He used the classic series of mat exercises to heal himself. These days, thirty minutes of these mat exercises four times a week, could take you on a journey of achieving a healthy fit body.

Pilates on mat will teach you the basic principle of Pilates and get you into the rhythm of breathing according to the kind of workout you choose. It is a great way to take back workouts that you can also perform in your own home.

Unlike the support through Pilates reformer, the exercises performed on the mat are all free body. Consequently, along with a healthy body, the mat workout will train your mind with the help of amazing balancing exercises.

The mat exercises use all muscles of your body along with extensive use of your joints. There is no way to work just one muscle group with this method; mat Pilates always works on full ranges of motion, spine extension, back support, deep core strengthening and much more. Here, on the floor, you are engaged in a tough competition with gravity as you use all your core and back strength trying to resist it.

Your body provides both the resistance and the guidance for a mat Pilates exercise. Here, you are affected only by gravity and your body weight.

Pushing yourself to achieving advanced postures or even holding basic postures for a long time are quite a challenge in this form of exercise! You are in full control of your body here, rather than depending on the support of the reformer. It demands your complete focus in order to reach your goal. It is actually a great start for beginners as it emphasises on understanding how your body functions and learns how to control your muscles.

It starts and ends in a full circle. It is ideal if you would find a fusion between Pilates reformer and mat Pilates. They both differentiate in their practises and benefits that you can use for yourself. The exercises on the floor can start your journey; slowly you can use the reformer for more strength building and muscle engaging exercises. Eventually, you can learn from the reformer and resist gravity with advanced mat Pilates exercises.

Both these forms help in building strength, improving posture, improving flexibility and focus. Thus, both techniques help each other; or better yet, they compliment each other.
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