As Pilates exercise programs have grown in size and popularity at fitness centers around the world, corresponding children’s classes have cropped up with increasing frequency, as well. There are many different types of Pilates for kids programs, ranging from courses taught at gyms and community fitness centers to classes taught as part of school physical education curricula, or offered as after school programs. Most Pilates for kids programs focus more on strength and well-being than precision and fitness, the way many adult programs do. The majority of Pilates for kids classes are designed to be a way for children and teenagers to improve their self-confidence, focus their minds, and enhance their mental concentration.
In adult settings, Pilates is an exercise that targets abdominal strength and is designed to improve body tone and flexibility. Dancers and gymnasts in Europe and North America popularized Pilates as a cross-training exercise in the mid-1980s, and since that time, it has become popular as a means of strength training. Different kids Pilates classes have different aims, but most are focused more on the individual than on the exercise.
Pilates programs for teens and kids first appeared in fitness clubs. Most classes in this category are designed to attract the children of Pilates aficionados. Parents who were already attending Pilates classes would be more inclined to sign their children up for the same, or so went the thinking of many gym administrators. Kid-centered classes in these settings usually mimic the exercises of adult classes, but with less intensity. The main idea is usually to learn the basics of Pilates practice in a relaxed atmosphere.
Some Pilates instructors have begun bringing Pilates programs to schools, as well. Most of the time, school Pilates for kids and teens are designed to give participants a creative outlet for energy, a positive space for self-expression, and a place for community building. Classes in low-income school districts have received particular praise for providing children who might otherwise be considered “at risk” with positive and self-affirming activities.
Pilates is an activity that is not difficult to grasp at the outset, but is also one that can be significantly improved over time and with practice. Many Pilates proponents believe that Pilates for kids programs can impart significant confidence-building skills, as well as teaching basics of fitness and body awareness. Some school districts have begun incorporating various Pilates elements into their physical education programs, and still others offer Pilates programs in the course of their regular after-school activities.
The benefits of Pilates for kids are typically seen as overwhelmingly positive. Pilates, like yoga, is a exercise that focuses as much on mental discipline as it does on physical strength. Children who have participated in Pilates programs have consistently reported better self image, an easier time concentrating, and a generally better outlook on life than those who have participated in other comparable quiet activities. Pilates and yoga for kids programs also have the potential to encourage healthy choices, in exercise and beyond.