• Thanks to Pilates, I was able to pursue my lifelong dream and become a dancer; as a young as yet undiscovered dancer, I broke my foot and was put on a Pilates Reformer to rehabilitate my injury. Months later, able to dance again, I started booking jobs and began performing. Five years later, after my first Christmas show as a Radio City Rockette, I was plagued with lower back pain and sciatica; back to Pilates for rehab I went. Within weeks I was dancing almost pain free and looked better. Eventually, I turned to Pilates for my daily workout and knew it was the fitness trend of the future.

    Pilates – The Ideal Workout!

    In just one hour you can tone and stretch your entire body from head to toe. If you have back pain due to weak, tight, or an overly lax muscles or joints, Pilates can help you stabilize your spine and hips. Originally, Joseph Pilates named his exercise system Contrology. By learning how to control your movement, your coordination and balance can greatly improve and you are less likely to fall and get hurt. The regular practice of Pilates will help you to eventually move more gracefully and efficiently, which can carry over into all aspects of life.

    Mind – Body Connection

    Not only does Pilates work out your body, it requires concentration in order to learn new movements and a pattern of new exercises. . When told to pull your navel to your spine, your mind sends the signal to the belly and the belly contracts and pulls in you have created a new neuromuscular pattern.

    The emphasis The Pilates Method puts on breathing facilitates relaxation and improves circulation. Proper breathing techniques are an integral part of stress reduction and inhibit production of Cortisol, the stress hormone that makes us age faster.

    Practical Pilates

    Find an instructor you understand, relate to, and feel comfortable with. The best way to find a good instructor is through a recommendation from a friend or health practitioner. If you have physical limitations, tell the instructor what they are. Know the difference between exercises that make you uncomfortable or irritable because you are working a weak area, and exercises that are just not right for you and tell your instructor. Good instructors know how to modify exercises to meet the unique needs of different clients. You will see the best results by working out on the apparatus two to three times a week. Mat classes are also a good option if you know how to properly perform the exercises to fit your personal needs. Many of my clients take group mat classes and then come to me with any questions or concerns they may have and together we work out variations to specific exercises to meet their needs.

    Pilates for Profile

    During my 11 years of teaching, I have seen clients grow taller, completely reshape the alignment of their shoulder girdle (no more hunch back!), forget they ever had plantar fasciitis, and develop strong abdominal and back muscles. You will stand taller and improve how you carry yourself, exuding a new improved air of confidence. Practicing Pilates will make your clothes fit better, and help to alleviate any incorrect postural deviations, which can cause pinched nerves and pain. Clients can go from having chronic neck and upper back pain due to incorrect forward head posture to floating along as if they have a string attached to the top of the head. Learning to stand straighter and pull in your belly can take 10 pounds off your appearance in just seconds. While concentrating on breathing and proper alignment, and learning a new exercise, you are toning your entire body.

    After an hour of concentration, breathing, stretching, toning, and moving you will experience an improved sense of well-being and confidence to go out into the world with and enjoy life.

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    BishopStef@aol.com'

    Article by: Stephanie Bishop

    Stephanie Bishop is a certified Pilates instructor in Manhattan; more than half of her clients are 60+. Visit her Web site at www.Well-BalancedPilates.com. Look for her on Facebook under "well-balanced pilates."

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