Incorporating effective Pilates techniques into your client's regular gym routine can be most effective - even without using large equipment. Here's how.
Pilates-based exercises help improve performance, reduce injury, and relieve stress. Unlike other hardcore strength training regimens that focus more specifically on muscle mass, Pilates focuses on toning your muscles, thereby improving your balance and alignment.
Pilates also assists in rehabilitation after injury and creates balance throughout the entire body. As a result, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and ultimately improve their golf drive or baseball pitch, prevent or recover from injury, and maintain an optimal weight for their activity of choice even with the basics of Mat exercises. Pilates is a form of overall strength and conditioning used in the development of strong core muscles which also focuses on breathing, balance and range of motion.
Many athletic trainers and coaches have realized these benefits for their athletes - but are often opposed to incorporating full-fledge Pilates programs at their facility. However, the truth is that even the most basic Pilates exercises can be easily incorporated into regular sport conditioning regimens without the need for large, expensive Pilates equipment.
BENEFITS FOR ATHLETES
- Self awareness - Knowing how your body feels and responds to its need to move.
- Breathing - Improved lung capacity and control of breathing. Also great for asthmatics and those who want to manage stressful situations.
- Improved focus - Greater focus mentally and physically will allow for optimal athletic performance.
- Deep strength, not superficial - Working muscles deep in your body feels completely different to any gym work you do.
- Improves other athletic skills - Improves balance and coordination for running, golf, cycling etc. by releasing tightness.
- Improves overall health - Fresh oxygenated blood supply to the prostate stops this area being stagnant and improves the health of all tissues.
TIME TO HIT THE MAT
There is a large misconception that Pilates involves very intricate moves that only dancers would be able to execute, or requires large equipment that is bulky, hard to obtain, and expensive. But it's important to know that Pilates can just as easily be incorporated into regular athletic training programs by using a few basic props (such as the Flex-Band®, Toning Balls, Stability Balls and Mats) that can be found around the gym or fitness facility.
Pilates can also be done as one-on-one sessions or in a group exercise environment which makes for more options for the trainer and facility as a whole. To allow for adequate individual attention, classes are best limited to a maximum of 12 participants. Modifications of exercises can also be used for certain clients who may prefer to work up to higher levels over time.
Keeping in mind that some popular Pilates exercises can put strain on the lower back of people with typical postural imbalances - there are numerous basic exercises that can be performed and/or modified on the Mat that can be helpful in addition to an already established athletic program.
Light Pilates equipment or props such as 1 lb, 2 lb or 3 lb Toning Balls can help close the kinetic chain, add proprioceptive awareness, and add challenge to exercises by increasing the load or de-stabilizing the base of support.
PILATES VS. WEIGHT TRAINING
Instructors get asked all the time what the difference is between Pilates and weight training and the answer is that you strengthen and stretch various muscles during Pilates exercises. Moreover, Pilates helps with coordination and increased stability, as well as lengthens muscles that are short, and strengthens muscles that need to be strengthened.
The bottom line is Pilates typically incorporates more muscles utilized in one exercise in comparison to a weight training machine. Further, Pilates compliments weight training because it enhances functional movement and performance due to the coordinated exercises and concentration on the core muscles.
Overall, Pilates is a key component to athletic conditioning because it focuses on the deeper muscle groups, or ‘local’ stabilizers. These are key in controlling joint movement and in sustaining the stability of the joints that can often be damaged through repetitive and high demand training. As well, the physical awareness that the athlete gains through a strong Pilates program can aid in their movement control enabling them to increase their level of performance.