I had been out of shape the past few months. My workouts became less frequent, until I stopped exercising altogether. I could have just blamed it on the greater demands of my new job, the longer commute to work, or the crazy Manila weather. Cosmo's timing couldn't have been more perfect. This month, I learned and experienced the benefits of an effective workout through a Pilates session with instructor Hazel Imperial. Then I started examining my own excuses for not working out, only to realize that those same excuses are exactly the reasons to practice Pilates regularly. Let me give you four of them:
- You're too busy.
Got no time to work out? Worry not, because Pilates isn't about doing so many reps (short for repetitions, or complete movements). It follows the "quality over quantity" principle, so you get the most intense workout in the least amount of time. If you're too busy, chances are, you're also stressed. After my Pilates session with Hazel, I was really tired and dripping with sweat, but I felt satisfied. This sense of well-being can be attributed to the fact that exercise releases "happy hormones" called endorphins. Too stressed to exercise? I say it's a great reason to do your mind and body a favor—get off that couch and get moving.
- You feel out of shape.
Unlike traditional workouts that isolate certain muscle groups, Pilates engages the core muscles, which are the abs, the side of the waist (obliques), lower back, and butt (glutes). They simultaneously move with the arms and legs for support. The movements in Pilates somehow simulate how our muscles really work in doing real-life physical activities such as lifting a child, reaching for objects in high places, or even sitting up straight in front of a desk. Practicing Pilates isn't just for the sake of exercise itself; it prepares us for daily life. So if you're worried that you're not strong or flexible enough, Pilates will make you stronger and more flexible. Most of the routines have easy, intermediate, and advanced variations; even those can be modified to suit your fitness level.
- You're not losing any more weight.
I know exactly how it feels. I tried every diet and weight-loss product, yet nothing seemed to work, or nothing seemed sustainable enough to turn into a lifestyle. But I was lucky enough to find a diet that worked for me, and it helped me lose so much weight. Then at some point, the weight loss just stopped. I was so tempted to just throw in the towel and go back to my old eating habits, and eventually I gave up. But I learned that hitting a weight loss plateau shouldn't be a reason to give up on my goals. The answer: a workout that efficiently burns calories, like Pilates.
- You find gym memberships expensive--or you just don't like going to the gym. At all.
This is good news for the budget-conscious fitness buff. You don't need any special equipment--aside from a thick exercise mat, optional dumbbells, and comfy, body-hugging clothes--so Pilates is convenient to do at home. On the other hand, I highly recommend learning it from a trained instructor like Hazel, to have someone check if you're doing it right. This will also help you avoid any exercise-related injuries. Once you've gotten the hang of it, check out the vast library of how-to videos online (such as the ones on CosmoTV), and you should be on your way to getting the body you've always wanted to have.
Click through to the Gallery to see behind-the-scenes photos from Amie's Pilates session with Hazel Imperial!