Pilates is a form of exercise in which various stretches and other controlled movements are performed as a means to improve posture and flexibility, and produce long, lean sinewy muscles as opposed to thick, bulky muscle mass. The exercise program may be performed on a floor mat with an exerciser using his or her own body weight as resistance, but certain versions of Pilates may also call for specialized exercise machines. AeroPilates is a type of Pilates that uses a specific machine and is designed to incorporate cardiovascular exercise to increase heart rate and burn fat, while also including resistance and strength training.
An AeroPilates machine is typically a main requirement for the exercise program. It generally consists of a metal or wood frame, with a headrest and shoulder pads near one end of the machine and a trampoline-like bottom known as a jump board at the other end. Multiple retractable cords are also positioned near the top of the machine as a means to provide resistance during the workout routine.
There a wide variety of different exercise moves that can be performed with an AeroPilates machine. The exact moves will generally depend on the instructor or workout DVD that is being followed and what specific muscle groups are being targeted. Most AeroPilates moves involve a person laying on the machine frame, grabbing the resistance cords overhead, and positioning his or her feet onto the jump board. As the person holds onto the resistance cords and gently bounces his or her feet on the jump board, he or she may perform various full body stretches. One of the main intents of the exercise program is to combine a cardiovascular workout with stretching and resistance from body weight.
In order for an AeroPilates routine to be effective and safe, machine users are generally recommended to follow a specific form. As a user performs each exercise move, he or she is advised to carefully keep his or her pelvis positioned in a particular way. An AeroPilates instructor will typically announce how the pelvis should be positioned for each specific exercise. During each stretching movement, the pelvis is usually supposed to be bent up, bent back, or remain straight depending on each stretch and the other body parts that are being exercised in order to prevent injury. For example, if the pelvis is tilted back so that the lower back is arched when the pelvis is supposed to remain flat, it could cause stress on the lower back muscles and risk injury.