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How Pilates Changed My Body — and My Life | Livestrong.com

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Walking into my first, life-changing Pilates class, I vaguely remember being told the workout was dangerous and I could get hurt easily, but I felt up for the challenge. Little did I know that just two years from that first class, I’d be teaching Pilates mat classes and private clients at that exact studio. Pilates became a passion — and a whole new way of life. Here’s how.

I started waking up earlier than I had in years to take heated classes at Hot Pilates because I became addicted to how strong I felt following each class. First, I noticed significant changes to my mental wellbeing, including increased mood, concentration and energy levels within weeks of attending the intense, hip hop-influenced mat classes.

Soon, I wanted to know the “why” behind Pilates and how these movements created such incredible results for my body. It became obvious to me and everyone around me — Pilates started changing my body so much that strangers even began to approach me and ask if I was a fitness instructor. I started to seriously think about pursuing my lifelong passion of fitness.

Health and fitness have always played a major role in my life; I ran long distance since I was 10 years old, but when my athletic career ended after an ACL injury I felt lost and fell out of a routine during college. After moving to Los Angeles, I landed what most would consider a “dream” job at an entertainment magazine, but the lifestyle made me the unhappiest, unhealthiest and burnt out I had ever been.

After searching numerous training programs in the Los Angeles area, I decided to enroll in the Equinox Pilates Teacher Training Institute. This comprehensive program allowed me to study under different types of teachers from various backgrounds — many were trained under Joseph Pilates’ protégé Romana Kryzanowska – which was important for me being a Classical Pilates Instructor.

After completing my teacher training program, I landed an instructor position at my favorite studio in town – Hot Pilates. Since I started teaching Pilates, there hasn’t been a day that I’ve dreaded, or taught a class or session that felt like “work.” I now understand what it means to do what you love and never work a day in your life.

Pilates is a system of exercises that can be used to program full-body workout routines — routines which require significant core engagement. As well as mat exercises, Pilates is also performed against spring tension on apparatuses such as the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair and High Chair. Pilates does not require flexibility but will increase flexibility levels as our bodies age, which is crucial to maintaining mobility in the long run.

Every exercise requires a deep connection to the core “powerhouse” muscles including the deep stabilizing muscles such as the pelvic floor, psoas, multifidus, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, and gluteus maximus. Proper Pilates programs are total body workouts that teach how to effectively engage the entire body throughout movement.

Personally, I noticed changes to my body within weeks of classes at Hot Pilates. Within a few months, I had a completely different body than ever before — and for the first time in years, I felt STRONG! I took what I learned from Pilates and translated it into my everyday life.

My posture and core strength improved dramatically — I stand taller, carry myself gracefully while keeping my shoulders drawn back and constantly engaging my core, which creates that waist trainer effect without squeezing the life out of your internal organs and skeleton.

I found my abs and can genuinely say that I have a six-pack now! My waistline has cinched and I have developed a strong, toned figure. Each and every movement (if performed correctly!) is connected to the core, so it’s a fact that your core will become stronger and more defined.

My body composition and shape changed — my inner thighs toned up, my legs’ muscular build has become lean and evenly defined, and I’ve even noticed that my backside has lifted without the illusion of an anterior tilt (aka arching my back).

This content was originally published here.