The basic goal of Pilates is to increase strength and flexibility without adding bulk to the body. The wonderful thing about doing Pilates on a regular basis is that it provides a deep-muscle workout for the core abdominals and stabilizes the pelvic floor and shoulder girdle, which is critically important for balancing the large muscle groups in the arms and legs.
One of the best things about Pilates for athletes is that it helps maintain optimal posture and keep the body operating at peak performance over a long period of time. Pilates can also prevent injuries and improve athletic performance through better energy conservation. Let's tackle energy conservation first.
Having a strong core is essential for proper form and alignment. It can alleviate some of the strain of endurance exercise on the body. Any weakness in the core means that the limbs must work harder when exercising. During a triathlon for example, this can mean the difference between finishing the race and collapsing in utter exhaustion.
Pilates can dramatically improve flexibility, which helps with endurance since a tense muscle will get tired faster than one that is engaged but elongated. Pilates also focuses on rhythmic breathing, which is another key component for success with any endurance exercise. I've worked with a number of hockey goalies who swear by Pilates for helping them improve their flexibility, and preventing injuries.
In addition to helping athletes perform at their peak, practicing Pilates reduces the likelihood of injury during a race. By strengthening the core as well as the pelvic and shoulder girdle, you effectively alleviate strain in the major muscle groups associated with those areas. You'll also achieve greater stability and alignment in the body. By doing so, the body is better protected during difficult and demanding activities.