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When I was first introduced to the term pilates an immediate comfort washed over me. It was my kind of word, so when it was suggested I give it a try I quickly agreed. Okay, so it turned out pilates is not actually an Italian ice cream. I soon learned that pilates is a system of exercise. Not only that, but pilates is a person's name as well. My disappointment was monumental.
I was on the overflow side of weight gain at the time, and the thought of exercise appealed to me about as much as poison ivy. A few miles down the road and 100+ pounds lighter, pilates have become an ally.
[Read: Pilates, Back to Basics with Weight Loss Strategy]
Joseph Pilates** Joseph Pilates** was a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1926. He put down roots in New York City where he opened the "Studio for Body Contrology." Contrology was the original name for pilates exercise.
Pilates emphasizes proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, concentration on movement, and becoming in tune with your body. Emphasis is on the quality of movement rather than the number of repetitions.
[Read Yoga versus Pilates]
The contention is that pilates helps create better flexibility, increase brain function, improve grace and control, reduce back pain, decrease illness, improve sex, and build confidence.
[Slideshow: Weight Loss Advice to Keep You Motivated** _]our Chair Pilates Moves at Your Desk1. Sit and stand with footwork will strengthen your lower body, inner thighs, ankles, and feet.** Inhale while sitting at your desk with the heels together and toes turned out. Stand up while exhaling, pull your abs up and in and squeeze your inner thighs together. Inhale and roll up on the balls of your feet, exhale and press your heels to the floor, then sit down. Repeat 4 times.
2. The second sit and stand strengthens the lower body, buttocks, ankles, and feet. Inhale while sitting with the toes parallel and pointed forward. Exhale and stand, pull the abs in, and squeeze the glutes. Inhale and roll up on the balls of your feet. Exhale and press your heels to the floor. Sit down. Repeat 4 times.
3. The spine twist strengthens and lengthens the spine and obliques. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and the legs together. Inhale and cross your arms in front of you. While exhaling, pull abs up and in and twist your body to one side. Inhale and return to starting position, then repeat on the other side. Repeat 2 more times on each side.
4. The back row with extension strengthens the upper middle back and stretches the chest. Sit with your legs a shoulder length apart and your feet flat on the floor. Inhale while extending the arms in front of your chest with the palms down. When exhaling, pull the arms back, leading with the elbows and lifting the chest. Inhale and return to original position. Repeat 4 times.
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