25/09/2014 13:06 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Pilates For Beginners: 5 Reasons Why It's Good For You

There's more to Pilates than improving posture and flexibility. Whether you're looking for a low-cardio alternative to running or you're determined to get a flat stomach, there are multiple health benefits.

Woman practicing pilates in park

Luke Meessmann, a master trainer at London's TenPilates studios, explains why it's good for...

1. Your core
The core muscle group is like an elastic band around your body that attaches to your lower back. To put it simply, the more you work to strengthen it the tighter it will become, helping to give you a much stronger frame and adding support to your lower back.

Pilates is an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. In many moves, you hold your torso in place while moving your limbs in different directions, which challenges your balance, core strength, stability and flexibility.
2. Your back
A stronger core is a great defence against back pain. If you find yourself sitting at a desk for hours on end, leaning over your keyboard with a niggling pain creeping into your lower back - and no matter how much you adjust yourself it always comes back - then it's time to work on your core.

A well-developed Pilates routine will focus on isolating and stretching the muscles that make your shoulders and upper back appear rounded.

Woman Sitting on Pilates Ball

3. Your arms
One of the most common requests from Ten's clients when I ask what they'd like to work on in class is 'bingo wings'! It would seem that a toned arm is as key as the designer bag it carries, and Pilates is a great choice for strengthening and toning to achieve that. Here at Ten we focus on getting the most out of each exercise repetition that you do.

MORE: 10 ways to improve your running form

4. Your bum
For me, the key to a fine derriere is a fit derriere, and that's all about exercising correctly. A Dynamic Pilates class will focus on isolating and strengthening the muscles in your bum (glutes) that are some of the laziest in the body. This can be due to postural imbalance and/or injury from an accident of some kind, and actually, people who suffer from lower back pain more often than not have inactive bum muscles. Commonly in these cases the hamstrings and hip flexors are hyperactive and therefore compensate and end up doing the job that the glutes should be doing.

5. Your brain
You know that feeling you get when you have just completed a tough workout? Or that warm cosy feeling after you treat yourself to some of your favourite chocolate? These are examples of the effect that an endorphin release has on the body.

A Pilates workout is a powerful way of boosting personal morale, keeping stress at bay and promoting a positive mental outlook. You'll head back to work feeling calmer and clearer, and in turn, more productive.

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