Studies show that the Pilates student can maximize health benefits if the century-old practice is combined with other exercise and a healthy diet. But does your routine now seem monotonous and less interesting than when you started?
For those on a budget insufficient for flying in hip personal trainers from around the globe, here are five (mostly inexpensive) products to potentially enhance your Pilates experience and re-energize your daily workout.
The simplest mistake made by many Pilates students is building their home studio around Yoga mats. Though there are many similarities between Yoga and Pilates mats, don’t assume that they are interchangeable.
A proper Pilates mat should be at least half an inch thick. Many thinner mats are marketed as Pilates mats, but are actually designed for Yoga, where standing poses are key. The rolling exercises in your workout such as “The Seal” are much more comfortable and fun to perform on a well-padded surface, so don’t fall for the ruse!
“The Reformer” is a bread-and-butter staple of any home Pilates studio. At a glance, a Reformer appears to be something akin to a weight-training machine, but look closer. The surface and springs are designed to create a ‘trampoline” effect, so as to tone and strengthen your muscles without creating undue stress or a grueling workout.
Careful, Reformers can get pricey! Though many websites will advise you to “go quality” and invest thousands of dollars (likely with a cozy merchandise client), in truth a decent appliance for the beginner-to-intermediate student can be purchased for as low as $400.
Books by Joseph Pilates
“To make rabbit stew, first catch a rabbit,” goes the Chinese proverb. So to better understand your practice, start from the beginning and read the tomes of its inventor, Joseph Pilates. Published in 1945, Return to Life Through Contrology is considered the original “bible” of Pilates, detailing the 34 exercises originally taught to the first generation of students. Purchase one of the newer revised editions for some of the latest advancements in Pilates technology, teaching and training.
Future Research Possibilities
Not feeling the same workout-boost from the usual vitamins and health bars? Peptides are biologically occurring chains of amino acid bonds, which doctors have been able to replicate synthetically.
Many peptide products are currently under research and development but have not been approved for human consumption by the FDA. Scientific studies on animal research subjects have shown that peptides can stimulate muscle growth, increase fat-burning in cells, and even increase sexual virility.
The Right Music
There is disagreement over whether music should be part of your Pilates routine. Many experts feel that despite the rhythm of the exercises, music can distract from all-important concentration. However, others argue that music in your studio can be beneficial – if you purchase the right albums!
Make sure that your music choice provides a “swing” or a steady rhythm, but don’t go for anything too intense or complicated. Classical music is a great fit, as long as there is an upbeat arrangement. Finally, too much singing and lyrics can be a costly distraction, so save that favorite Bob Dylan record for your after-session swoon.