If your exercise habits have been limited mainly to cardio—like running, biking, or other aerobic workouts—you may not have looked too deeply into the benefits of strength and flexibility workouts like yoga, Pilates, and barre. That’s okay! Because it’s never too late to add one or more of them to your fitness routine.
But what are they, exactly? And which one best fits your workout style and the benefits you’re looking for? Here’s a quick guide to each.
Yoga is a mind and body exercise with its roots in ancient India, but it’s been gaining popularity as a fitness activity since the 1960s. It involves focused breathing, as well as stretching and holding various poses that work multiple muscle groups. Yoga promotes strength and flexibility, as well as mindfulness and calm.
Want to decrease your anxiety and aches and pains while boosting your energy, strength, and endurance? Give yoga a try!
Pilates is a system of exercises for mind and body. It was created by Joseph Pilates in the early part of the 20th century. While Pilates developed around a set of equipment designed to stretch, strengthen, and align participants in different ways, there is a version of Pilates, called mat Pilates, that requires only an exercise mat. (You’ll probably want to have a towel and a water bottle handy, too.)
Looking to increase strength and muscle tone without adding bulk? Recovering from a muscle or back injury? Interested in the enhanced focus and memory this discipline provides? Pilates may be for you.
Though barre is probably the newest of the three in terms of widespread popularity, its roots are in classical ballet. It was created in 1959 by ballerina Lotte Berk, who after a back injury combined her rehabilitative exercises with ballet barre routines to create an exercise system.
Proponents of barre have described it as a fusion of barre work, yoga, and Pilates. In barre, muscles are worked to the point of fatigue and then stretched for relief. Barre is frequently upbeat, energetic, and aerobic as well as strengthening.
Searching for a tough, fun workout that gives both cardio and strength benefits? Barre may be just what the wellness trainer ordered.