So it’s the season where we madly rush to the shops to buy gifts for others but why not think out of the square and give someone (or yourself) the perfect gift that keeps on giving – PILATES.

There are plenty more reasons to take up Pilates but here’s our top 10

1. Pilates is a full-body exercise. It focuses on the core while training the entire body as an integrated system. The workouts include ones that improve strength and balanced muscle development, flexibility and increased range of motion.

2. Pilates sessions are tailored to individual needs. Pilates is for everyone, including elite athletes, the injured, seniors, pregnant women and everyone in-between. There are literally hundreds of exercises and modifications for each client.

3. It lengthens the spine and improves posture. Poor posture creates a string of structural changes throughout the body that can cause pain and imbalance in the shoulders, neck and head as well as a tilt of the pelvis or a shift of the hips adding pressure to muscles and joints. This, in turn, may cause migraines, neck, lower back, hip, knee and foot pain. DID YOU KNOW if the head is tilted forward 20 degrees it is forced to bear twice the weight than if it were vertical. Pilates targets the deep postural muscles creating a strong, aligned core from which to move.

4. Pilates helps you to recover from and prevents back injuries. Studies of patients with back pain have found that including Pilates in their exercise routine saw ”dramatic improvement” compared with those taking only pain medication. Doctors and allied health professionals recommend Pilates exercise for most back pain because of the lasting improvements that come with regular exercises that stretch and lengthen the spine, loosen up tight hip muscles and strengthen the abdominals.

5. Muscular balance. For example, the golfer will repeatedly bend over a ball and twist in one direction. This overuse of the same muscles creates imbalance in the shoulders, neck, hips and feet, but the most vulnerable is the lumbar spine (low back). Pilates works to restore the balance and re align the body.

6. Core strength. If the trunk of a tree is not strong, what use are its limbs? We can train our arms and legs to be strong with weight training, but in Pilates you are never working just one muscle. Why not get more results in less time? Train your center while stretching and strengthening other muscles. This is called functional fitness.

7. Weight loss, really! If you practice Pilates regularly, you will change your body. Pilates creates long, lean, strong muscles. Just because it is low-impact does not mean it is easy. Our Pilates Physiotherapist Adriana says, “Those who think Pilates is easy aren’t doing it properly.” Once you have the routine down, expect to work up a light sweat. The formula for weight loss remains the same: burn more calories than you consume. Because Pilates is a full-body exercise, it will help you do just that!

8. Breath efficiently. Pilates will increase your lung capacity and your ribs will move more freely.

9. Mind and body connection. Joseph Pilates was insistent that Pilates was about “the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”. Pilates practice gives complete attention to each movement by instructing the brain to release tension, center oneself, control movement and breath with precision and flow. Plus its a great way to de-stress from work, life, whatever…

10. Improves balance and circulation. Strengthening the core and working one limb at a time will improve balance. The classic “Pilates Hundred” exercise is meant to get the blood circulating and act like a “rain shower” inside your body.

So there you go – MERRY CHRISTMAS!