Balance Pilates uses core principles of Pilates in order to achieve enhanced health and wellness through muscle strengthening, stretching and balance training. This is not necessarily a separate sect of Pilates; rather, balance training is integrated into regular Pilates practices at all levels. Ensuring that muscles on either side of the body are strengthened and trained to similar levels — thus balancing the body — is another key principle of Balance Pilates. The term "Balance Pilates" might also refer to the more meditative aspects of Pilates. A core focus of Pilates programs is achieving inner peace, stress relief and a balanced mind through purposeful, controlled exercises.
Pilates is considered a low-impact activity and includes exercises such as core strengthening and flexibility training. Basic Pilates is performed on a mat, with the goal of creating greater stamina and strength while toning the body and achieving a sleeker, more fit exterior. Mat classes often include equipment such as weighted balls or flexible rings for resistance, although many Pilates exercises are performed simply using one’s own body weight.
Reformer Pilates classes also include Balance Pilates. The Reformer is a piece of adjustable equipment that includes pulleys and bands to aid in resistance training. Various stretching and balance training exercises can also be performed on the Reformer machine.
Balance Pilates is used for better posture and to realign the body so that it functions at a strong, optimum level. Often, Balance Pilates is incorporated into strengthening moves. One example is a core exercise that involves using the abdominal muscles to hold a seated “V” position.
Other Balance Pilates exercises include standing on one leg, balancing on the toes and extending opposite arms and legs while on all fours. These exercises condition muscles while giving the Pilates practitioner a greater sense of overall balance. Older adults might find these exercises especially useful, because performing Balance Pilates can help reduce the risk of falling.
More advanced Balance Pilates exercises can be performed with the aid of an exercise ball. Participants often hold the ball overhead during prone mat exercises. This is done so that the body’s core muscles — rather than the arms or hands — must be utilized for stabilization and to maintain balance.
Performing Balance Pilates under the supervision of an instructor, such as in a group Pilates class, is likely the best way for one to learn the basics of Pilates and ensure all exercises are carried out safely and effectively. Most Pilates classes incorporate some form of Balance Pilates. When choosing a Pilates class, one should look for classes that are tailored to his or her level of experience. Asking a Pilates studio about its best classes specifically for Balance Pilates might also be useful.