If I had to choose one primary focus of Pilates that differentiates it from other forms of exercise, I would say that it is the focus on core strength or working from the core.
By increasing core strength we are often able to:
Improve our posture – because if your core is strong you might not ever need a corset
Increase or at least maintain our balance and stability – because balance comes from our core
Your core is essentially everything a corset would cover. It includes your abs, parts of your chest, your glutes and your back.
Decrease low back pain – because low back pain often comes from imbalances/weakness that working from the core can strengthen/correct
Strengthen and tone our abs – it takes a combination of aerobic activity and diet to get rid of belly fat and if you don’t do that the difference might not be visible, but core exercises will help to tone abdominal muscles
Improve your golf game/baseball swing – because if you swing from your core you should find you not only have more control, you also have more power in your swing
One of the great things about core work is that you can do much of it at home without the expense of any exercise equipment. Chest lifts, chest lifts with rotation, planks and push ups are great examples of challenging core work you can do on your own.
Modified Chest Lift with Rotation (in Tabletop)
One sometimes overlooked muscle group is our obliques. Oblique exercises target what many refer to as “love handles.”
- Begin lying on your back, bring your legs in to tabletop (a 90 degree angle).
- Lift your head neck and top of your shoulders off the floor rotating your torso so that the right side of your chest comes toward your left knee (knees do not move) on an exhale. Come back to center but do not lower your head, neck and shoulders back onto the mat on an inhale. Rotate the left side of your chest toward your right knee and exhale.
(On your exhale imagine you are wearing a corset and the corset is getting tighter, on the inhale imagine the corset is still and you are not allowing your rib cage to expand up toward the ceiling)
- Alternate between right and left sides, 10 times on each side for a total of 20
Modification – you can rest your head between sides, allowing your neck to rest and reducing the challenge to your abdominal muscles slightly