Look Good, Feel Great With Pilates Reformer Fitness

By Guest writer
Wednesday - March 19, 2008

Now that we are into the swing of 2008, it is time to reflect on how well we have kept our New Year’s resolutions to be healthy. Have you started your exercise program yet? Maybe you would like to give Pilates a try? Pilates offers a complete body workout that strengthens and improves flexibility with minimal joint impact.

What is Pilates?

Pilates, originally called Contrology, is a form of exercise focused on controlled and specific movements of the body. It was developed in the 1910s by Joseph Pilates, an avid gymnast and boxer, who had dedicated his life to fitness. He developed this method of exercise to rehabilitate sick individuals at a German internment camp, where Pilates himself was detained.

Today, most individuals associate Pilates with mat work. Mat work is Joseph Pilates’ original exercise routine done on the floor. Some find these exercises too difficult to perform because of specific weaknesses. An apparatus known as the Reformer, is used to both assist and resist specific movement patterns to enable stretching and strengthening.

Why Pilates?

Pilates has traditionally been used by dancers to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. In recent years it has become popular because, as opposed to traditional weight training, Pilates creates lean, elongated muscles and focuses on strengthening of the core muscles, or the abdominals.

Developing core strength is essential to those involved in an active lifestyle. It is necessary for those who simply want to stand taller, for golfers who want to swing with more power, or for runners to run more efficiently. Professional athletes now seek Pilates as an adjunct to their training. In addition, Pilates is often used in rehabilitation and fitness programs.

Pilates is unique in that it strengthens while also stretching and conditioning the body. It also provides a full body workout that demands concentration on specific movements. Because of its emphasis on precise, efficient movement, this form of exercise is ideal to improve one’s fitness.

Pilates & Pregnancy

Pilates offers many variations that allow women to exercise throughout their pregnancy if they are already familiar with the fundamental exercises and cleared by their physicians. Maintaining an active lifestyle while pregnant has been shown to reduce the intensity of low back pain during pregnancy. “I used Pilates during my pregnancy to help me maintain my fitness level,” says Shawna Yee, whom is an avid runner, Physical Therapist, and Certified Pilates Instructor.

It can also help to resume an active exercise program post pregnancy. Pilates exercises can be performed in positions that are supportive to the pelvic region, while limiting joint impact and stress. After giving birth, the benefit of the spring resistance system of Pilates allows individuals to gradually regain their abdominal strength and tone the area without causing strain to other areas of the body. The abdominal muscles help to support the lumbar spine (aka, your back), which is especially important to new moms who are frequently carrying their little ones.

Where to find private customized Pilates instruction?

In Hawaii there are several Pilates studios. On the east side of Oahu you will find Apex Pilates & Fitness Center, located in Kapahulu in association with Pulelehua Skin Care Aesthetics medical spa. Pilates Instructor, Shawna Yee, became involved in Pilates through her work as an orthopedic physical therapist, receiving her certification as a Pilates instructor in 2005 through the Body Arts and Science Institute. Pilates was especially useful during her first pregnancy, enabling her to continue exercising throughout her pregnancy. Shawna enjoys working out and empowering others to do the same.

Shawna grew up in Hawaii and moved to California where she received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California, as well as her Orthopedic Clinical Specialty from the American Physical Therapy Association, and her Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialty from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Although a Pilates reformer doesn’t look like your typical gym equipment, you’ll be surprised at how this form of physical fitness exercise can improve your well-being. “Pulelehua Skin Care Aesthetics is proud to have Shawna onboard as we grow in our efforts to give our clients the opportunity to Look good, Feel Great!” says owner Colleen Wasa For more information, call us at 218-7871, or visit us on the mauka end of Kapahulu Avenue diagonally across Kilohana Square.



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