What is Pilates?
- A highly adaptable exercise programme which uses a distinct way of breathing, resistance and gravity to take the body through a healthy range of movement;
- Developed by Joseph and Clara Pilates over the course of a lifetime devoted to promoting physical and mental wellbeing;
- Includes a repertoire of low impact, low repetition stretching and conditioning exercises which aim to strengthen, lengthen and bring the body back into alignment and balance.
- Suitable for all ages, sizes, abilities and fitness levels;
- Provides an opportunity to pause, breathe, to listen to the body and respond to its needs;
- Has at its core a number of key principles:
- being aware/mindful/present
- breathing correctly
- concentrating deeply
- being centred physically, mentally and spiritually
- being in control
- being efficient, i.e. only using the muscles needed to execute a movement, allowing others to relax
- being precise
- creating flow
- achieving balance and harmony.
What to expect from the class
Before starting each exercise, I will teach you to align your body perfectly. Then, as you’re performing the exercise I will focus your attention on individual muscle groups, getting you to work them without putting strain on other areas. If you’re used to high impact, repetitious exercise classes like Zumba or circuits, or the ache you get in your muscles and joints after a long run or a vigorous game of tennis, you will be surprised by how gentle Pilates feels and as a result, you may be a bit sceptical about the benefit you’re getting from it. The exercises, whilst appearing simple and pared-back are highly effective because they are targeted at getting the correct muscles, ligaments and tendons to work together to perform the movements well. The exercises are also very efficient because you don’t need to do more than about 10 repetitions of each to get the benefit.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
- Improved posture. Many people say how much taller they feel after a class.
- Balanced muscle use. Nothing over-working. Nothing under-working.
- Increased strength, particularly around the core of the body. Lots of people find their tummy looks flatter.
- Improved functioning of the heart and lungs, which boosts the circulatory and respiratory systems.
- Greater flexibility and mobility of the spine and other key joints.
- Reduced strain on injured areas, providing relief from pain.
- Improved body awareness, balance and co-ordination.
- Reduced stress and tension.
- A greater sense of physical and mental wellbeing;
- Fewer injuries and improved performance for sports people.
How to get the most from Pilates
Pilates involves taking your body through a fuller range of movement than perhaps it’s used to, and offers a new way of experiencing your body. It can be difficult at first to get to grips with the breathing and some of the other elements of Pilates, but as is the case when taking up any new sport or activity, it takes time to learn the skills required to perform the Pilates exercises well. With this in mind, a few tips:
- Commit at the outset to taking at least six classes. This will provide you with the chance to master the breathing and get used to the different types of exercise. It will also allow enough time to start seeing and feeling the benefits for yourself.
- Try and make Pilates an integral part of your life rather than just a class you attend each week. There will be at least one exercise you do in class that your body responds particularly well to. Try to do these one or two exercises at home on your own between classes.