Pilates has had a huge positive impact on my life. It wasn't something I would have expected to practice but now I cannot imagine not doing Pilates. And if you don't have a core exercise routine, I would encourage you to consider trying out Pilates. Sometime in 2017 I was playing with one of my kids and throwing him up in the air and catching him. He was loving, it was good fun. Then suddenly on one of the catches my back gave a huge tweak and bam, I was in a lot of pain. Then my back refused to get better. I did a few visits to the Physiotherapist but it just wasn't getting fully better. It didn't help that my kids were still quite young and required a lot of carrying around. But one offhand comment by the Physio made all the difference. She said that to get this really sorted I needed to do Pilates. That journey has had a huge impact on my health and fitness. ## What is Pilates Pilates was originally developed by Joseph Pilates. He called it Contrology and it was designed to help with daily living. Pilates is a set of exercises that work your whole body but has a lot of focus on your core abdominal muscles, hips and back muscles. This improves the body's overall strength, stability and flexibility. There are two main types - mat and equipment-based Pilates. Mat is exercises done on a mat that uses body weight whereas equipment uses a few different Pilates equipment to exercise. I've never done any of the equipment-based Pilates. Connecting myself to a bunch of springs on a large contraption gives me instant visions of my face somehow slamming into the wall. But I've heard of a lot of people who enjoy using the equipment. ## Health Benefits Pilates is known to have a lot of good health benefits. The main aim is to promote control, strength, breath and balance in your body. It is also known to have good mental health benefits. [Healthline](https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pilates-benefits#what-it-is) has a good in-depth article on the benefits. ## My experience I started out doing Pilates to fix my back injury. After about 6 weeks of Pilates, I noticed a big difference in my overall body health. I felt a lot stronger, even doing simple things like carrying shopping bags or getting up from sitting on the floor were significantly easier to do. I've continued practising Pilates and last year I did my Mat teacher training through [BASI Pilates](https://www.basipilates.com/). The teacher training was an interesting experience, I learnt a lot about my body, teaching physical exercises and what it is like being a complete beginner at something again. It took my Pilates understanding to a new level of understanding and It was very rewarding to complete. For me, Pilates is amazing at creating base-level fitness. I no longer have back issues, and it has also helped with my tennis elbow issues. And it makes doing any physical exercise a lot easier. Climbing is very much an upper-body physical exercise, but a lot of core strength is still required. Pilates means that I have that core strength already and can focus on the other aspects of climbing. I've also noticed it when mountain biking. When tackling challenging technical sections with jumps and big berms, I find I have to constantly change my body position or throw the bike around to get the best angle. Again I can feel the Pilates core strength has helped make this a lot easier to do. ## Where Pilates falls a bit short I've only ever done mat-based Pilates, and I've found that mat Pilates doesn't do enough arm and leg work. I've found I've needed to substitute with simple leg work like side lunges or squats. For arms, I have enough climbing exercises to make up for that, but it is something to consider and make sure your instructor adds in other arm exercises. If you do the full equipment exercises I believe there are a lot more leg and arm exercises. ## My Pilates routine I always do two sessions of 1 hour each week. I work with a Pilates instructor, this allows me to just relax, switch my mind off and let my body move. This is a great stress reliever, I don't always "feel" like doing Pilates before those sessions, but when the session is finished I'm really glad I did it. I also use some of the basic exercises to warm up and warm down from climbing. And then if I've been sitting for too long or need a way to transition from work to family time in the evening I'll do a short 15-minute session to help process the day. ## How to get started One of the aspects of Pilates I appreciate is that it is for everyone. Even if you haven't exercised in a long time, you can start with a lot of foundation exercises that won't over-stress your body and immediately start building your strength. You would be surprised how quickly your strength will improve and how much better you will feel. For someone already exercising, the intermediate and advanced exercises are really fun to learn and will challenge you in different ways to your exercise routine. The best way to start is to find an instructor that can teach you. Group lessons are popular especially if you enjoy exercising in a group. I prefer individual lessons, if help you understand each exercise more, protect you from injury and give you a more customised lesson that fits your needs. If you have read this far, I recommend giving it a shot. You won't regret it.