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Fit to the core

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If an apple is the only thing that comes to mind when the word "core" is mentioned, then you probably haven”t ever taken a Pilates class. According to the Pilates method of exercise, the core is the lower torso of the body where the upper and lower halves join. It”s the body”s powerhouse. Strengthening the core is at the heart of the Pilates exercise method.

Pilates (pronounced "puh-lah-teez") is a system of over 500 controlled exercises that engage the mind and condition the total body. It is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, reduces stress and creates lean muscles without bulking up.

German-born fitness innovator Joseph H. Pilates (1881-1967) developed the Pilates exercise system in the 1920s. His interest in physical fitness stemmed from a determination to strengthen his own body and improve his health after a sickly childhood. With a background in yoga, Zen meditation, martial arts and other ancient fitness techniques plus some success as a gymnast, diver and boxer, Pilates devised a unique sequence of movements that worked the mind and muscle in harmony. He fine-tuned his wellness regimen while interned in England during the First World War.

There are several variations of Pilates principles, ranging from those that Pilates pioneered in the early 1900s to contemporary adaptations that incorporate modern understanding of fitness, anatomy and biomechanics.

The focus in Pilates is on quality of movement rather than quantity, which makes one feel invigorated rather than exhausted after a session. Pilates takes a balanced approach so that no muscle group is overworked and the body works as an efficient, holistic system in sport and daily activity.

Beware of Pilates programs that promise dramatic weight loss or overnight transformations. That”s not what pure Pilates is about. However, with time and dedication, Pilates practice accomplishes such goals as:

  • Improve strength, flexibility and balance.
  • Tone and build long, lean muscles without bulk.
  • Challenge deep abdominal muscles to support the core.
  • Engage the mind and enhance body awareness.
  • Condition efficient patterns of movement making the body less prone to injury.
  • Reduce stress, relieve tension, boost energy through deep stretching.
  • Restore postural alignment.
  • Create a stronger, more flexible spine.
  • Promote recovery from strain or injury and increase joint range of motion.
  • Heighten neuromuscular coordination.
  • Offer relief from back pain and joint stress.
  • Improve the way your body looks and feels

If your goal is to prevent or overcome an injury, enhance your athletic abilities or sculpt the body you have always wanted, look no further than Pilates. It is truly an amazing form of exercise.

Rebecca Silvey is a certified Pilates instructor and the owner of AlphaPilates. She and her staff provide instruction at Enhancing Health in Duluth. To schedule a free session, visit www.enhancinghealthinc.com or call (678) 205-1390.

Whether your idea of sports is getting dirty on the soccer field or strengthening you body with yoga or Pilates, Gwinnett offers an option for the sports fanatic in every Gwinnettian. Browse the Wiki Guide for a comprehensive directory of sports, fitness and wellness resources in your neighborhood!