Monday, October 4, 2010

Cross Training with Pilates

Pilates teaches breathing, control, concentration, how to work around the body’s center line, precision, and alignment. Pilates work challenges a bodies strength, flexibility, balance and complete range of motion in all joints. Pilates develops both the body and the mind and is a series of specific exercises performed on both a mat and specialized equipment.


Cross training can help improve overall fitness and performance. Cross training with Pilates will help build a balanced and aligned body to enhance other sports and reduce risk of overuse injuries. Pilates is a valuable aspect of cross training as it will train the “power house” muscles (abdominals, lower back muscles, and buttocks muscles) making you more agile whatever your sport. Increased flexibility and strength will improve posture and alignment. Pilates will teach you about your body and how to properly move with it. Both male and female athletes in varying sports are cross training with Pilates. Golfer Tiger Woods, offensive lineman Ruben Brown, basketball player Jason Kid, and female Olympian Jennie Thompson all use Pilates as part of their cross training regime.

Advantages of cross training:

  • Ensures a full and balanced body work out

  • Prevents certain muscle groups from remaining weak at the expense of others
  • Reduces the risk of injury

  • Adds variety to your workout and makes exercising more fun

  • Gives muscles a chance to rest from repetitive athletic activities

  • Helps reverse muscle imbalances within the body

  • Enables learning of different skills

  • Improves overall athletic performance

Pilates will:
  • Build up your stamina - run faster, swim longer

  • Increase strength and flexibility - jump higher, hit a ball farther

  • Balance/re-balance muscles - hit a ball straighter

  • Reduce the risk of injuries - have more confidence

  • Improve balance and coordination - move faster

  • Heighten body awareness - find strengths and weaknesses

  • Improve circulation and energy levels - increase stamina


If you are just starting out or looking to buy Pilates equipment for your own home gym or Pilates studio, you will need to consider what equipment to buy. With more manufacturers of Pilates equipment popping up, make sure to look at more than just the price. Joseph Pilates designed Pilates equipment with precise measurements and flow in mind to work for Pilates exercises. Ask about the history of the maker, how the equipment is backed and if parts can be replaced at no charge should anything happen in the shipping process. If you plan on working with a Pilates trainer in your home, find the right trainer first and consider what equipment they prefer to work with.

Resistance Rings - A Pilates resistance ring or magic circle is usually made from flexible metal or rubber with small pads on either side. It is normally 13 inches in diameter and designed to provide resistance during exercises and is a great tool to learn how to lengthen in the spine.

Pilates Mat - The place to start is with a good Pilates mat. A good Pilates mat is firm and padded enough to adequately support your alignment and balance. A typical size mat is between 80 inches long and 24 inches wide and comes with a foot hold.
Pilates Chairs - Three common chairs in Pilates are the Wunda Chair (shown), Electric chair, and Arm Chair. Each Pilates chair is used differently to exercise the whole body, providing both balancing and strengthening exercises while correcting for alignment. More than 75 different Pilates exercises can be done with the Wunda chair in standing, sitting, and lying positions.
Pilates Barrels - The Pilates Spine Corrector was designed to open up the chest, allow deeper breathing and correct and realign the natural curvature of the spine while performing exercises. It is also used to help students get deeper into their “power house” muscles and build strength for other exercises on Pilates Equipment and Mat. The Ladder Barrel is great for teaching alignment while stretching, also for back and core strengthening.
Reformers - The Pilates Reformer is the most popular piece of Pilates equipment. It is comprised of a single system of straps and springs designed to work a body hard and with control. Things to consider when choosing a Pilates Reformer are the type of carriage padding, length to suit your height and very importantly make sure that carriage moves fluidly. A good question to ask any Pilates equipment manufacturer is what their philosophy is behind their spring system.

Cadillac/ Tower Combinations - Slightly more advanced than the reformer, the Pilates Cadillac offers a wider and versatile range of exercises to strengthen, stretch, and challenge the body.

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