Pilates has been known to develop greater core strength and provide relief from daily aches and pains while also being easy on the joints and helps hone focus and brainpower. There’s just so much to love about this discipline, thanks to Joseph Pilates’ groundbreaking work in the 1920s. But one thing that remains an ongoing discussion for Pilates instructors and enthusiasts alike is whether or not music should be played during Pilates sessions.
Both sides of the argument have valid points, and truly goes to show that different people respond in varied ways to music. Here are some benefits of Pilates both with and without music.
What’s special about Pilates as a form of exercise is its unmistakable rhythm. This is because in its early days, Pilates was developed particularly among dancers in New York City as a way to improve their technique and prevent injuries. As shared in a throwback Thursday post on the history of Pilates here on the Full Circle blog, dancers Ruth St. Dennis, Ted Shawn, and Martha Graham were some of the first Pilates students, which can be attributed to one of Pilates’ core principles of fluidity or flow.
Because of this, people who practice Pilates might find music to be a natural part of the exercise. It can help people get inspired and flourish through the movements in relation to the music being played.
Music is known to have a powerful effect on people, and can be incredibly relaxing to help put you in the zone. Interestingly, Lottoland shares that this effect isn’t limited to restful violin concertos or slow atmospheric music, as it’s even observed among those listening to rock as a stress-buster. As it turns out, slow music can reduce blood pressure while lowering stress levels, while fast music can unleash emotions and energy. Both can be used for the benefit of your next Pilates workout.
For the more musically inclined, there’s also an ideal format in terms of the best tunes for the exercise. Fitness Magazine recommends keeping Pilates music between 70 to 100 beats per minute to help regulate heart rate and exercise intensity. To give you an idea, songs like Alabama Shakes’ Don’t Wanna Fight, The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations and Katy Perry’s Roar all fit neatly within this range.
On the other hand, there’s also plenty of reason to keep your stereo or iPod off during your next Pilates session. Others argue that having silence in the studio can very well help you focus on one thing at a time, which is one of the mental benefits of Pilates discussed in another Full Circle post. As the art of controlled movements, Pilates gives practitioners the gift of slowing down, a luxury that allows you to be fully present in the moment.
For some people, not having the additional auditory stimulus of music can help reduce tension, and allow them to concentrate better on gentle stretching and conditioning. In turn, this helps you focus on your breathing and trying to really work with your body, rather than pushing yourself to a set beat or rhythm. In this way, practicing Pilates without music allows you to focus on three of the nine principles of Pilates, namely – concentration, control, and precision.
To each their own
There really are no hard-and-fast rules on whether or not music should be played during Pilates sessions, as each situation offers its own benefits. However, for those who do intend to play music during their workouts, Brunel University’s Dr. Costas Karageorghis advises to decrease the volume low enough so that you can hear a person talking from the other side of the room. This is because follicles in your inner ear designed for picking up sound are a little more sensitive and susceptible to damage during workouts. Moreover, those practicing Pilates at home should avoid using headphones to play their music as this doesn’t only pose a threat to your ears’ health, but can also adversely affect balance.