Fitness freaks can swear by the benefits of sweating out the calories on the treadmill,but Moushumi Kuvawala begs to differ. A practicing neuro-physiotherapist since 20 years,for her the core stability and posture correction are the paramount factors in maintaining a healthy mind and body. She vouches for Pilates as a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility,muscle strength and endurance in the legs,abdomen,arms,hips and back. Developed and promoted by Joseph Hubertus Pilates,a physical culturalist from Monchengladbach,Germany,the form of exercise has gained importance in the world of disciplines over the years.
Kuvawala explains that it puts a lot of emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment,breathing,developing a strong core and improving coordination and balance,while allowing for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginners to advanced. Originally confined to a few moves practised in a specialised studio,Pilates is now promoted by trainers at community centres,gyms and physiotherapy rooms.
I use Pilates for my every day activity,right from curing a simple back ache to a major nerve injury, says Kuvawala,who took her training from Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute,(APPI),UK and now trains beginners at her own clinic in the city. She says that Pilates seeks to develop controlled movement from a strong core,using a range of apparatus to guide and train the body. Most of the exercises done on various pieces of Pilates apparatus are resistance training since they make use of springs to provide additional resistance.
The movements in Pilates begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs. In order for the trainee to attain control of the body,they must start at the group of muscles in the centre of the body; it is the focal point of the Pilates method. The key elements of training are to focus on core strengthening,functional training,flexibility,muscle training and toning, explains Kuvawala.
When asked if Pilates could be used in weight reduction,Kuvawala clarified that Pilates include slow controlled movements which does not deal with burning of calories. Although,the routine is not directly proportional to weight lose,but indirectly,if incorporated with belly dance,hip hop,zumba and yoga can cater to the problem of obesity, she mentions.
Trainers say a session that stretches for 45 minutes to an hour comprises properly planned routine which would include warming up,stretching,core strengthening movements and cooling down. Kuwala says people from all age groups can practise Pilates. One of my trainees is 16 years old while another is in his sixties, shares Kuvawala,adding that it helped cure bad knee injuries of sportpersons and severe back aches.
She warns that certain precautions should be taken too. During pregnancy and post-partum period,Pilates should be performed under the proper guidance of an expert. Patients suffering from osteoporosis should avoid it,because it can increase the risk of compression fractures, she concludes.