Over the past few years pilates has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. Pilates is a non-traditional strength training form of workout that is not only helps to boost your strength levels, but also enhances flexibility, builds up a strong core, and will help to lengthen the muscles creating a long and lean appearance.
One of the best things about pilates is that almost anyone of any strength and fitness level can do it, and many people prefer it because they find it less intimidating than approaching the free weights section in the gym.
In order to maximize the results you get from your pilates training sessions however it’s important to have the right equipment available. Whether you choose to perform pilates in the comfort of your own home or you plan to try it out a gym class, the following will help you get the best results from your time invested.
A Pilates Mat
If you’re looking to get started with pilates, a good mat is a must. Since many of the movements you will be performing involve lying on the ground, the mat will provide the cushioning and support that your body requires to move through the activity comfortably and without pain.
Trust me, you don’t want to be trying pilates on a hard floor, so look for a mat that is somewhat padded, but not so padded that you begin to sink into it. Balance is key here so try to find a good medium.
Another piece of pilates equipment that you might consider using is a machine called the reformer.
The reformer is a pulley based glider that helps you perform pilates exercises and uses your body weight to provide resistance. The machine allows you to perform a wide variety of different exercises for both the upper and lower body while providing a dynamic form of resistance to challenge the muscles and build strength.
If you’re doing pilates in a gym environment a pilates reformer is probably what you will be using. If you plan on doing pilates at home you will probably have to buy one on your own. Unfortunately the reformer does come with a higher price tag, though you might be able to get it a little cheaper if you buy it online or find one slightly used in your local classified ads.
If you decide that the Reformer is out of your budget range, there is an alternative option with resistance bands.
Resistance bands are basically thick rubber bands with handles on the end. The bands provide resistance when you stand on them, hook them on the doorway or some other resistance point. There are quite a few professional athletes who say they prefer bands over free weights because it’s easier on the muscles through a long and grueling season.
A good set of resistance bands will give you a variety of different resistance levels so you can challenge your muscles throughout the workout. They are a very cost-effective option for those who are going to be doing their training at home, so if you are just beginning this may be the best option for you.
A Good Pilates DVD
If you aren’t doing pilates in a gym then you will want to invest in is a good instructional DVD. Pilates is a very specialized type of workout and unlike free weights or machines it’s difficult to just sit down and start working out. That’s why it’s important to have something to follow along with while you do the exercise. A good DVD is definitely going to be helpful and will allow you to ensure that you’re doing the movements correctly (which is also good to help prevent injury).
If you’re brand new to pilates take some time to watch the DVD in its entirety before jumping right in. Try out a few of the movements so that when it comes time to doing the workout, you understand exactly what you’re doing.
There are any number of DVD’s available that work the body in various ways and cater to different skill levels so be sure that you match up the one that’s most appropriate for your level and needs. If you’re just starting out be sure to start with a beginner DVD. Pilates is tougher than most people think it is so don’t overdo it by starting at too high a level.
Photo Credit: familymwr
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