How Our Muscles Work

An animated guide to muscles

illustration by TabletopWhale.

Understanding Our Bodies – Muscles At Work

When we talk about Pilates Contrology, it’s about the mind-body connection. We want our bodies to react in a certain way at our command. Here’s a fascinating animated look at how that process happens under our skin – good to know when we’re doing The 100! (Clicking on the image above will take you to the illustrator’s portfolio. Clik on the image there to watch the animation.)

Pilates For Men? Seriously!

Tony demonstrates excellent Teaser form on the tower apparatus.

Tony is an excellent student determined to wring every possible advantage from his Pilates fitness program. His dedication has certainly paid off as can be seen from his excellent Teaser form.

How Men Benefit From A Pilates Fitness Plan

Unlike running, swimming, weight lifting or many other fitness pursuits where you’re likely to find men working out, Pilates doesn’t immediately come to mind as an option for male physical training. In reality, Pilates is perfect as a solo activity or as the focal point for a broad cross training regimen.

While other exercises are easy to picture, Pilates doesn’t immediately conjure up a physical image. Ha! As we know, when done correctly Pilates thoroughly and completely challenges virtually every single part of the anatomy. And these days you’re seeing more and more Pilates being practiced at the highest levels of professional sports by athletes whose contracts depend on the flexibility and specific strength found in the program.

Balance, Strength, Endurance, Flexibility

Generally speaking, Pilates focuses on building, strengthening, and developing the core. But there’s much more than that, in a progressive training program that at the highest levels approaches the impossible.

Men’s major structural weak points are tight hamstrings, hip flexors, shoulders, and chest. Pilates incorporates stretching these areas in both basic and advanced workouts, with exercises designed to loosen and lengthen the muscles and tendons that cause so much trouble for so many men spending too much time at a desk.

At YPL, I don’t train a lot of male clients, for reasons that mostly stem (I think) from unfamiliarity with the routines and an overall impression that it’s mostly just for women. On the other hand, some of the biggest compliments I’ve received have come from that small percentage of men who are exploring the benefits of a full Pilates training schedule.

If you’ve got a man in your life who could use a low-impact fitness program that delivers positive results quickly and safely, encourage him to check out Pilates.

What Is Pilates Controlology?

Advanced Moves Performed On The Reformer

When we talk about Controlology, we’re referring to the connection between the mind and the body. That connection is important whenever we’re performing our Pilates movements, and it’s essential when practicing the advanced moves on our apparatus.

Whether you’re a Pilates professional or a first time beginner, this video from Munich’s Bluebird Pilates Studio is a perfect demonstration of what that connection means and why it’s so critical in our practice. And before anyone asks, no, I don’t teach these exercises at Your Pilates Lifestyle!

I’ve included this clip just for inspiration for your own Pilates practice (but definitely not for comparison purposes!). Whatever level you work at the principles are the same -concentration and control (mind/body connection) being an integral part. Deepen the work by being fully present in each exercise you perform and make it the best that YOU can make it!

 

How To Do The Pilates Pushup

Do You Know The Difference Between Pushups?

Did you know that there’s an actual difference between a regular run-of-the-mill pushup and a Pilates pushup? Well, there is! View this video and take note of the differences. While you’re at it, you might even want to give it a try. (This is a Flash video so you won’t be able to view on an Apple mobile device.)

The Physical Art of Pilates Control

Pilates Control by Bluebird Pilates in Munich

This is a great example of Pilates control at its best. Bluebird Pilates in Munich uses a variety of studio equipment to demonstrate the ultimate in controlled Pilates movements.

Obviously, not everyone (or most of us for that matter) will achieve this level of precision and expertise. However, we can all benefit from striving to achieve our own personal best, and keeping this video in mind while performing our own practice is a good place to begin.

I hope that you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

Ready For The Pilates Chair?

Your Pilates Lifestyle workouts include the ChairPilates Chair Offers Advanced Students Benefits

One piece of equipment that nearly always invites questions is the Pilates Chair. Because it requires real body awareness and core control, it’s usually not part of a new student’s workout. Here’s an online review that summarizes a Chair routine.

For advanced students, it offers significant fitness benefits, and there are an astounding number of exercises that can be performed. For instance, for those familiar with a regular gym’s stairstep apparatus, the Chair can deliver a cardio experience that’s just as intense while also including balance that can’t be duplicated on a machine.

In the photo above, Jen is using her abs to lift while balancing with her forearms in a move that requires body awareness while building core and upper body strength.

If balance, cardio and toning from arms to legs is on your checklist, ask about YPL’s Chair workout when you book your next class.

Pilates for Horseback Riders

@Mike Baird http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/

Kate Spahr, Female Equestrian and Artist, runs her horse Sterling @Mike Baird http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/

Is there any physical activity that doesn’t benefit from the many advantages a strong and well developed core delivers? I’m beginning to think not.

I just discovered the latest group that’s turned to Pilates to improve their personal performance – equestrians! From casual Western to strictly English, barrel racing to rodeo, these athletes are training with Pilates to improve their performance and prevent injuries.

Pilates began as a series of exercises designed to help rehabilitate injured soldiers in World War I, then evolved to condition professional dancers in preventing leg and other injuries. Since then, race car drivers, professional athletes, runners, swimmers, bike riders and many other competitors have learned the benefits of a Pilates fitness routine.

Annette Willson’s blog Pilates for Horse Riders teaches equestrians a special style of Pilates that includes very task specific conditioning that targets saddle riding. She has perfectly identified the parts of the body that benefit most from having a Pilates makeover, and explains the logic behind her training in a way everyone can relate to and can understand.

Even if you’ve never even petted a horse, her site offers several excellent reasons on how everyone benefits from Pilates. And if you do happen to ride, your horse will thank you!