Pilates class

Pilates is making a comeback-though to those who are devoted, it never left. Many celebrities like Emily Van Camp from Revenge, Dustin Hoffman, Jennifer Garner and Ray Romano do it. NBA superstars Dwayne Wade, Jason Kidd, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant also do it…. Even Tiger Woods does it.  But why should you?

Well, if you aren’t doing any form of exercise, it’s a great low-impact way to get fit, toned, long, lean and lose inches. If you are already exercising, it is a perfect, and might I say crucial supplement to your regimen to help balance the body and help prevent injury.

How Pilates can compliment your workout if you are:

A RUNNER: Pilates strengthens the knees and ankles, improves gait and posture, and helps you utilize your deep core muscles.  This makes you run more efficiently and effectively, and increases endurance.

A SPINNER: Spinning is also making a comeback, and in a big way.  However, it can do a number on your hip flexors, low back and upper back if you aren’t in proper alignment. Many Pilates exercises strengthen the low back while stretching the often over-worked hip flexors. If you have a tendency to hunch or round your shoulders forward when you are spinning, you know that your upper back, neck and shoulders can pay the price. Pilates will help you use the proper shoulder muscles to assure that you sit properly on the bike.

A CROSS-FIT JUNKIE:  Cross fit is amazing, but you can get hurt in a heartbeat if you don’t use your body in the proper way. Developing your deep abdominal muscles with Pilates and aligning your posture can give you great strength to do the demanding exercises in a cross fit routine.  You will also be amazed at the amount of increased endurance you have as a result.

A CARDIO JUNKIE: Like the runner, spinner and cross fitter, if you don’t have proper alignment, you are likely to hurt yourself. The same goes for someone who can’t get enough of the hip-hop or kick-boxing classes popping up everywhere. Proper form is so important in order to protect the joints and spine, especially when moving at a faster pace.

A YOGI: While Yoga and Pilates often get grouped together, they are completely different.  Yoga postures can be very dangerous and demanding on the body if you do not have a lot of core strength. While it is true there is a lot of stretching and lengthening of muscles in Yoga, there is no real weighted resistance work. This kind of work, which is done in Pilates-specifically on the Reformer, helps to protect the back, by strengthening the muscles around the spine so that you can get into Pigeon pose without damaging your lower back.

If it seems daunting and expensive to try Pilates, look for deals on sites like Lifebooker, Living Social, Gilt City and Groupon. Many studios offer packages at deeply discounted rates. This is a great way to not only see if Pilates is for you, but to find the best studio to fit your needs. So get out there and get on a Reformer already!

Jessica Kuiken is a Los Angeles based Certified Pilates Instructor.

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