Pilates: the benefits for athletes
Lisa Johnson has been a certified Pilates instructor since 1998 and has owned Modern Pilates for 14 years. She is an avid fitness blogger at LisaJohnsonFitness.com. She's here to tell you how and why top athletes are using pilates to improve their sport:
Athletes have definitely been a huge focus in 2012, not just for Olympians but also in grass roots sports around the globe. But did you know that Pilates is a secret weapon for many? From gymnasts to runners, from swimmers to dressage riders, Pilates is considered a secret weapon for many trying to stay at the top of their game.
Benefits of Pilates for Athletes
Pilates helps with balance, core strength and particularly for athletes, strength with extension. Strength with extension is the ability to use force while stretching your limbs away from your body. Think of a tennis player dashing across the court, reaching for a ball and being able to return it with velocity to his opponent.
Pilates also gives your precision with extension. That tennis player will not only return the volley with enough force to flummox his opponent but will also be able to accurately place it where he wants to on the court. Or think of a football player jumping for an interception and being able to pull a ball out of the air with control away from his opponent. Pretty cool no?
How Pilates Works
Pilates is a series of over 500 exercises (actually by the time you’re done counting up props and variations it’s probably twice that). The exercises are very precise, a qualified instructor can hone in on a body’s weaknesses and give movements that will improve muscular balance, core strength and joint control. If I want to nail one particular muscle in your body I probably have a minimum of six ways to get there from beginner to advanced moves.
Pilates is also easy on the joints so it can slip into an overall training regimen without interfering with the sport you're training for. While an instructor can crush you into a pile of goo with a muscle aching workout we can also nudge you along so that you can continue training in your preferred sport.
Pilates builds flexibility automatically into the workout, so there’s no need to add on a stretching segment at the end of the session. You will be performing strength-training moves with a wide range of motion that automatically includes flexibility. It saves time and trains the joint in the way it’s used most, while moving.
Should You Try Pilates
You should give Pilates a try if you are a weekend warrior or a serious athlete and have had any nagging injuries or seem to be stuck, unable to improve to the next level of your game. Often Pilates can correct a muscle discrepancy or improve your sense of balance, which is often the special ingredient to improve your performance.
It’s best to try at a studio where they focus on Pilates. Health clubs frequently have less than fully trained staff. Look for an instructor who has a 500 hour certification, they’ll have the most tricks up their sleeves to help you progress. Great certifying groups include Stott Pilates, Balanced Body University and Power Pilates.
I’ve included a video below that gives you a quick idea of what Pilates is and also shows you some of the exercises in a fully equipped studio. Enjoy!
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