Pilates every day by Alycea Ungaro PT

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Joseph Pilates was a fitness pioneer who devised a comprehensive system of exercises for full-body fitness, combining traditional Western and Eastern exercises (especially yoga). He also invented many pieces of equipment.

This can be somewhat intimidating for the Pilates beginner, because it’s easy to think that in order to practice Pilates you need to invest in all this equipment, plus a great home gym to store it and do the exercises.

EVERYDAY PILATES says you can start at home with nothing more than a mat or rug to cushion your back and two 1-pound dumbbells.

She describes four separate workouts consisting of twelve separate but related exercises designed to take around fifteen minutes. At first she may take more time, as she is learning the exercises and the sequences to perform them.

The workouts are: Day by day: performed on the floor, emphasizing the abdominal muscles and stretching the spine. From top to bottom: performed standing up, to strengthen the upper body. Bottom up — more about legs and abs. Up, up and away: general strengthening.

This book is short, but it is printed on glossy paper with many pictures to illustrate the exercises. And if you don’t get them from the pictures, there’s a DVD included. On the DVD, a woman walks through all the workouts so you can see them performed in real time. In addition, the sound explains all the exercises. So while you are learning, playing the DVD will help you a lot.

One aspect of Pilates that I think is unique is that it emphasizes not only good form as you perform the exercises, but maintaining that form as you transition from one to the next.

It is somewhat equivalent to diving. A jumper is judged not only on how he performs the jump, but also on his stance, style and demeanor when he approaches the springboard and then while on the springboard.

Pilates would add that they are to be judged on their style and form as they swim to the edge of the pool, get out of the pool, and walk away.

Ms. Ungaro makes it clear that Pilates is exercise for your life. She makes fun of the fitness events where her people work out, and then she goes back to her bad posture once they’re no longer competing.

Although Ms. Ungaro says that Pilates is also for men, the photos are only of her and a young woman. The exercises are not as strenuous as some men would like. However, exercises that work on the abdominal muscles are quite challenging.

Also, as you get stronger, you should increase the repetitions and weight, and perform the exercises slower and more intensely.

I have no doubt that many men would benefit from these workouts just as much as women. Ms. Ungaro suggests combining Pilates with weight lifting, swimming, and yoga.

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