Recently I blogged about the benefits of aquatic yoga. Pilates is another form of exercise that can be performed very effectively in the pool. While Joseph Pilates probably never imagined his principals being applied in an aquatic environment – pilates and the pool are natural bedfellows.
The Pilates Method is unique in that it offers resistance (primarily of the abdominal, low back and buttocks muscles) and flexibility training simultaneously. Pilates also enhances spinal alignment, coordination, balance and body awareness. Furthermore, by fostering bilateral strength and flexibility of opposing muscle groups, Pilates exercises both help prevent and rehabilitate injuries.
Most of the “Pool” Pilates exercises I teach incorporate the buoyancy of the deep water with the natural resistance of the water. My clients can modify the difficulty of the movements by controlling the range of motion and speed of their movements. I have them wear a flotation device and hold one or two buoyant barbells for upper body stability in order to isolate their core muscles.
Core conditioning is even more challenging in deep water when there is no gravity to provide stability. Just remaining upright in deep water demands co-contraction of back and abdominal muscles. When this “core-stable” deep water posture is combined with movement, the trunk muscles are further challenged. At the same time, because the exercises are performed without gravity, there is no loading of the spine.
Take your Pilates or other core conditioning workout to the pool this summer. You can cool off and improve your core fitness all at once.