Q: I've been thinking of participating in a Pilates class to improve my overall level of fitness. What are the benefits of Pilates? Will it help me burn calories and improve my heart health? Alicia
A: Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates in the mid-1920s as a physical rehabilitation program. It is now one of the fastest growing exercise programs in the country. Pilates is a system of specific exercises and breathing patterns that help improve strength, flexibility and balance, all with an emphasis on economy of motion. The exercises can be performed on the floor (mat training) or with special equipment.
Although it is an effective method of increasing strength and flexibility, Pilates has limited aerobic and calorie-burning benefits. Recent research has determined that the advanced level of Pilates burns an unimpressive 254 calories per hour. Pilates stops and starts, therefore intensity increases and decreases activity that falls short of the requirements for effective cardiovascular conditioning.
Segments of Pilates have entered mainstream group fitness classes. Certified group fitness trainers often continue their education with courses in teaching Pilates, and cardio classes may begin or end with Pilates-type exercises in place of conventional abdominal work. Participating in one of these classes may be a great way to sample Pilates to see if it's right for you.
Diane D'Agostino, M.Ed., Vice President, Programs Director, and C.O.O. Lehigh Valley 24-7 Fitness Clubs, Allentown, Bethlehem, West End and Trexlertown
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