Weekly Wellness

Weekly Wellness

by Laura Dillavou

So you say that the beds in Kresge aren’t that comfortable? Really, why should they be?

Although you may not realize it, but every night you could be sleeping yourself into back pain and muscle cramps. So for all of us college students, there is some relief out there.

It does not come in the form of a small tube labeled “Bengay”, nor is it a small pill that not only relives pain, but also knocks you out. The relief that I am talking about is something that the whole fitness world is crazy about: Pilates.

Pilates, (pronounced pih-LAH-teez), is not a new form of exercise. It was invented by Joseph Pilates back before World War I. He was a gymnast, and also worked in the war as a rehabilitative nurse. Pilates are designed to strengthen muscles and also help the range of motion in muscles.

Mr. Pilates used his techniques to help soldiers regain strength and then later he moved to New York and helped injured dancers and gymnasts recover, while still maintaining a strong body. Today, Pilates is becoming a very popular method of exercise compared to pounding it out on the treadmill.

People of all ages have discovered that Pilates may be just the right kind of exercise for them. The elderly like it because it is a relatively good way to avoid stress on the joints. Younger people enjoy Pilates because it is innovative and the results are long lasting.

Today, many gyms and clubs have Pilates classes, personal instruction and equipment for public use.

Getting started is relatively simple. The only equipment needed is a mat. Mats can be purchased at retail stores such as Target, for around $20.

Some brands offer Pilates kits, that come with an inflatable rubber ball, a mat and even an instructional video. Obviously, these will be a little more expensive, but still very affordable.

To take classes at a health club, most require membership prior to the class. You can find a variety of rates to join, and become a member. At Aspen Athletic Clubs in Des Moines, a one-month student membership is $49. Pilates classes, along with a variety of other new age exercise classes are offered free of charge with a paid membership.

At a Pilates class, you may do some exercises that doesn’t seem conventional or maybe doesn’t even seem to be working. The whole point of Pilates is to strengthen from the inside out. As experts agree, those who have a strong core (abs, lower back, thighs and buttocks) are more apt to have a stronger back, leaner midsection and move with more grace.

Many exercises involve using a large, wide rubber band with a set resistance to help strengthen muscles. A ball is used in back and abdominal exercises, and the mat is used at all times. Nowhere will you use weights or a treadmill in a Pilates class.

Many of the exercises concentrate on the middle of the body, and soon after you begin differences can be felt. To see real results, it will take about six weeks of hard work.

In addition to attending class or keeping pace with the video at home, experts agree that a sensible diet never hurts. If six weeks of work and a lighter appetite don’t appeal to you, than maybe this will: compared to those who simply lift weights and do basic cardio, people who keep at Pilates have leaner bodies and stronger muscles, and the results will last much longer, because of the inside to outside method.

So instead of the treadmill and dumbbells, why not rent a Pilates video with a friend and just try it. If you don’t have a mat, use a bath towel, and maybe even just try half of the video.

There are reasons why people love this new wave of fitness. So now find out for yourself what everyone is so crazy about, and start enjoying a stronger body.