Thursday, March 22, 2012

FITNESS : Pilates and Kanye? Anyone?


“All them mocha lattes, you gotta do Pilates...”

Although I am not planning on following Kanye West’s “Workout Plan” as my newest exercise routine, I have to applaud his exaltation of Pilates. Pilates comes in many forms, including Reformer Pilates and Mat Pilates. Most people are not fortunate enough to have access to a reformer machine; therefore, for our purposes, when I say Pilates, I mean Pilates on the mat. And by Pilates on the mat, I mean, death to your abdomen.

Smaller is better. Oftentimes, in areas of working out, bigger movements are associated with a greater strength and stamina. With Pilates, smaller movements are much more challenging. Pilates emphasizes using proper breathing techniques and core strength to engage in repetitious exercises. By keeping your movements slow and controlled, you are avoiding using momentum to carry out the exercise. You are, therefore, able to create your own resistance. Big movements usually are fuelled by momentum, not your core; you can almost always be sure that with a large range of motion, you are probably neglecting the targeted muscles. Therefore, in any Pilates exercise, whether it is targeting your thighs or the muscles of your lower back, your core should always be engaged. By the time your instructor tells you its time for the ab series, you will look at her as if she is a nutcase.
Wait, I thought this whole class has been an ab routine!

The great thing about Pilates is that it is beneficial to all levels of experiences. For those who are new to Pilates, or have less core strength, modifications are available to make exercises doable and effective. Like anything else in life, perfect practice makes perfect. The more you engage in Pilates, the more sets and repetitions you can complete. You can also have the option to engage in more advanced exercises that require more strength and flexibility.  
The results of Pilates are not just going to make you look hotter in Cabo. Strength gained through Pilates has real life applications, like better posture. It can even work to fix back problems (scoliosis), and more. 

No matter what, don’t let the size of the movements fool you. Never before has something so small made your body feel so good.

The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

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