Originally posted on oxygenmag.com, written by Jill Schildhouse.

Total Body Workouts for Women

If you never take a break from your regular exercise routine — whether it be lifting, cycling, rowing or running — mixing things up is worth your consideration. Pilates, which was originally created in the 1920s to rehabilitate injured World War I soldiers, is touted as a cross-training dream.

“You gain the ability to control your muscles with your mind and not let reflexive patterns take over,” explains Lynda Gehrman, founder of Physio Logic Pilates & Movement, professional dancer and teacher for more than 20 years. “You work smaller muscle groups to support the larger, sometimes misused, muscles. You train muscles and joints to have both strength and range of motion from a stable starting place.”

So whether you’re a CrossFit fanatic, runner, swimmer or dancer, Gehrman says Pilates can help you:

1. Understand ideal alignment. 

You’ll learn to make choices on which muscles you want to fire. You do this with proper positioning because your form will equate to your muscle function. We need to properly align in order to access specific muscles.

2. Amp up your training. 

Pilates helps you identify and use your entire core, not just the abdominals, in motion.

3. Correct your gait. From your running gait to other movement patterns, Pilates uniquely trains muscles eccentrically, concentrically and isometrically. 

4. Align your spine. 

By working in neutral, flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation, you’ll learn to unwind your body and achieve ideal alignment. 

If you’re new to Pilates, here are a few ways to incorporate this strength-, flexibility- and posture-improving activity into your fitness routine:

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