wnship in Central NJ. Premier Pilates & Yoga NJ offers access to a fully equipped Pilates studio with Pilates instruction by Deborah Harris, a certified Pilates instructor formerly of Pennsylvania Ballet.

 

 

 

 

"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier."

    - Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965 at age 86

     Much of this country, Canada, Europe, and Asia are experiencing an explosion in demand for Pilates, a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor itself, but also as an important adjunct to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds.

The Emphasis of The Pilates Technique

    Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing is a primary focus. Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination-both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program. Posture, balance, and core strength are all increased. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time. Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one's life. 

   

     A series of over 500 movements engage both the mind and the body and are performed on specialized exercise apparatus designed by Joseph Pilates and supervised by certified instructors. Unlike many training programs, Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision and concentration in both the mind and the body. Movements are not performed rapidly or repeated excessively instead, the focus is on quality not quantity. The abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks ("powerhouse") serve as the center of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out and is critical for the advancement of the client.  The low impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Its six principles-concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow and precision-train the body to move efficiently with minimal impact on the body. The balance between strength and flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous and symmetrical workout for all muscle groups resulting in a leaner, more balanced, and stronger body.
Focusing on the Core

     The abdominal and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body's core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility, and build strength. How can one exercise technique claim to do so much?

     The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one's own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this, and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with two participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominals, the back, the upper leg and buttocks to stabilize the body's core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations.

     Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, Premier Pilates & Yoga offers mat-work classes. These exercises taught also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles, but without the apparatuses. She utilizes the natural resistance of the body as well as the  Magic Circles to center the work of the "powerhouse." Inner thighs and the gluteal muscles are especially worked in these classes. Highly trained instructors should know appropriate modifications for people with injuries or back pain.

Connecting with Pilates

     The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion.

So, what will all this focus and
stabilization get you?

     Well, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve your posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular aerobic exercise. Though some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component may be advisable.

     Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/ body element into one effective exercise session.

Abdominals - the powerhouse of the body!

     Pilates technique is a form of body conditioning that has proven to be as popular with dancers and athletes as it is with the average person on the street. And the reason for this is simple. Pilates is a work-out with a difference. In addition to muscle toning, stretching and relaxation, Pilates develops core abdominal strength, so that whatever activity you undertake, your skeleton is supported and your spine protected.

     The spine supports the weight of the body, and both its discs and natural curves enable it to absorb shock and to move freely. When the spine is in a natural S shape the weight of the body is supported more comfortably, movement is more fluid and wear and tear on the discs is minimized. Our lifestyle often involves long periods of sitting, either at desks, in front of computer screens and / or slouching in front of the television. These kinds of activities encourage the spine to move out of its natural S shape which can lead to conditions such as lower back pain and round shoulders.

     Pilates helps to re-align the spine back into its natural S shape, a position that has become known as a "neutral spine." The spinal column and pelvic girdle work together to support the body when you are standing and moving. But they can only do this with the assistance of muscles. Muscles are attached to bones and fascia, and by activating, strengthening and lengthening specific muscles, the bones of the spinal column can be realigned and supported.

Which muscles are involved in supporting
a neutral spine?

      The main muscles involved in supporting a neutral postural alignment lie deep under the surface and include the Transversus Abdominus (TA), the Lumbar Multifidus, the diaphragm and the muscles of the Pelvic Floor. Unlike global muscles (such as the biceps in the upper arm) that are easy to see and use (every time you bend your elbow), these postural muscles can initially be difficult to locate and activate. Pilates technique works these deep muscles to provide a "powerhouse" of strength to support your spine while you sit, stand or do backflips! (although, of course, the backflips are optional!)

Is that it?

     Basically yes! After the deep postural muscles have been activated and begin to strengthen, Pilates exercises become more complex. Balance, movement and resistance are added to challenge and improve that core strength.

Will Pilates improve the shape of my body?

     Absolutely! When practiced regularly Pilates not only improves your posture making you stand straighter and taller, but it also works muscles in the legs, bottom, abdominals and upper body. So in addition to the health benefits achieved from having great posture, you will also improve the muscle tone throughout your body.   


( Premier Pilates & Yoga, Inc. - (908) 754 5901 
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53 Mountain Boulevard, Warren, NJ 07059
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