Despite all of the opportunities for our children to “get out there” and join a sports team, go to the school track, or simply play outside– today’s society is bombarded with technology that is often more appealing. Children are easily enticed by video games, television, and MP3 players. But unfortunately these modern activities are far from beneficial to our children’s physical development, and are being attributed to lackluster grades and overall poor performance at school.
As a result, many parents have concerns regarding their children’s physical conditioning and self-confidence – as well as the lack of programs available at fitness facilities or schools that specifically target core strength, coordination, balance and flexibility. Not to mention something that’s going to keep their interest for more than one session.
This is where Pilates comes into play, literally. Pilates is the very form of exercise that works the entire body with emphasis on function for overall health. And parents are taking note for their youngsters.
THE INSPIRATION OF CHILDREN
Motor development has always been an integral part of how Pilates instructors evaluate their clients’ fitness abilities and how they create their clients’ individual training regimens. Furthermore, helping children become aware of their bodies from the inside-out is crucial to their overall development and learning how their body performs and functions is not only important from an educational perspective, but interesting to a child as a whole. Pilates is designed for both the non-athletic child as well as the competitive teen.
STOTT PILATES President and CEO, Lindsay G. Merrithew, says Pilates is a smart way of getting children to participate in exercise because it caters to their various ages, fitness levels, and athletic abilities. “Pilates is great for teens getting into highly competitive sports. It is the ideal complimentary activity for high school athletes who participate in hockey, rowing, basketball and swimming among others. For younger kids, Pilates is a superb individual activity because it enables kids to feel successful at something. And once they’re successful in one area this generally carries over to other areas of their life.”
BENEFITS FOR YOUTHS
Pilates helps children gain awareness of their body and its workings. Pilates improves the way the body functions, looks and feels – and knowing one’s body inside and out can lead to greater self-esteem. Also, most people may not be aware that Pilates can assist with weight management issues in younger people because this form of exercise strengthens and lengthens core muscles without adding bulk. So children can learn to love their bodies no matter what. Another benefit of Pilates for youngsters is that it helps prevent injury on the playground or on the court – and is the basis for improving posture, and increasing strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Pilates also gives children a “different” kind of physical activity to enjoy because it can be done on everything from a ball, to a mat, to various types of equipment. So kids find Pilates to be a fun form of fitness and that in itself will keep a child’s interest. But perhaps one of the most important benefits for children is increased focus. Being able to center the breath, hold various positions for a certain amount of time, and concentrate on mind-body fitness are cornerstones for youths to challenge theirenergies into one activity. Pilates does exactly this and more. This form of fitness provides the perfect physical and mental platform necessary for children to excel in athletics and in school. “The emphasis on breathing allows us to focus our minds on what our bodies are doing. Pilates is all about using breath more effectively so we can increase awareness and focus in our every day lives,” explains Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES co-founder and Master Instructor Trainer. “Children can learn the importance of focus and concentration with Pilates and also gain a sense of fulfillment or success at a level they can relate to.
THE END RESULT
It’s true that when you take care of your body by eating right and exercising, you get healthier overall. This is what Pilates can do for children and teens, no matter what
their fitness level or athleticism. Regular exercise makes your body strong and flexible, helps you think more clearly and makes you feel more confident. Pilates helps children develop a general grasp on the importance of connecting the mind and body with fitness – and such benefits are clearly in the interest of building a solid foundation for an active, healthy life.
Pilates isn’t just about the exercise – it’s about the experience with oneself and what one gets out of it.
Written by:Kerrie-Lee Brown
Submitted by Wendi Peart