Pilates is a method of physical and mental conditioning which develops the body uniformly and corrects poor posture. It also improves muscle strength, tone and flexibility and develops quality of movement which is essential for good posture. It trains the deep structural muscles which support our skeletal system and reduces overloading on our feet, hips, spine, shoulder and neck. Pilates will help you look and feel much better and reduce pain associated with dysfunctional posture.
Pilates is used by many top sports people and can help prevent injury and improve performance. Specific training and sports activities can overwork certain muscle groups and develop muscle imbalance, distorting the entire body and decreasing the ability to produce good technique. Pilates helps to lengthen, strengthen and align the body, bringing balance to prepare for any sport. It can also improve concentration, co-ordination, endurance and breath control, enhancing performance and preventing damage to the body.
Wear comfortable clothing which is easy to move in. From experience I would advise that with some of the stretching and movements involved, if the only top layer is very loose it may travel more than you would like! Women can wear jogging bottoms, leggings and a stretchy exercise top, vest or T-shirt. Men wear jogging bottoms, tracksuit bottoms, shorts of an appropriate length and an exercise vest, T-shirt or top. You do not need trainers and Pilates socks are optional (they have grips on the soles, which can help when using some equipment). Pilates is basically non-aerobic but involves lots of movement.
The first private tuition session will include discussing your expectations, goals and health history. This session is crucial in laying the Pilates method foundations from which you will develop based on your personal needs. The first session introduces you to Pilates and its primary concepts such as core strength. You will also experience some of the equipment used in the studio. It provides an opportunity for you to get specific information regarding your body and goals, and a comfortable environment in which to ask questions. It will be challenging, but relaxed and fun.
Definitely not! Pilates was invented by a man originally for his own benefit. Additionally, men tend to be less flexible than women and need Pilates even more than some women. Many professional sports people practice Pilates and footballers, rugby players, golfers and other professional athletes use Pilates to improve their professional performance. Pilates develops the quality of movement that is essential to good training and is still used constantly by professional dancers of both sexes. Many celebrity devotees of Pilates are male, from Hugh Grant to Patrick Swayze.
Absolutely – there is no age limit, as Pilates works against the natural “stiffening” which happens with age. Pilates improves flexibility, stretching and toning of muscles and helps balance, which is especially important as we age. It is also suitable for anyone wishing to return to exercise after a long break or, indeed to take up for the first time. The elderly wishing to maintain their independence and mobility and anyone interested in helping to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Balanced Pilates ante and post-natal workouts take account of all the changes your body is going through whilst pregnant. Designed for use in pregnancy from 16 weeks onwards and from 6 weeks after the birth, these exercises will make your pregnancy more comfortable, prepare you for the rigours of labour and for the demands of motherhood and help you get back into shape more quickly after the birth. Specific Pilates exercises work the pelvic floor muscles in every movement, so you can gain greater control during delivery itself and soon return to normal after the birth. Pilates also helps you feel good about yourself by boosting your body’s lymphatic, circulatory and other systems.
Pilates is an exceptional way to rehabilitate from an injury and the practice can be tailored to fit your personal needs. Most physiotherapists now include Pilates exercises in their treatment of clients and may refer clients to a Pilates teacher at the relevant stage of treatment.
During your first session, we will discuss any injuries you may have and if they are particularly serious and you are currently under consultation with a medical professional, it is advisable to check with them beforehand that you are ready to try Pilates.
I have previously spent many years training and working for Body Control Pilates who worked at breaking down the original Pilates exercises in order to produce an exercise system which can be adapted to every need, ensuring a safe and beneficial practice. For rehabilitation, attention is given to developing a range of exercises with a particularly gentle approach. The exercises are simple, small and gentle. As you learn to master them, they increase slowly and carefully to challenge your body gradually and develop your strength, flexibility, stability and mobility from the inside out, returning you to good health.
Pilates is movement and a form of exercise. As with any type of exercise, if you have an injury or illness that affects your movement it is important to seek advice from a medical practitioner before partaking.
Some clients arrive at the door of Pilates in pain. There are many causes of pain including injury, physical wear and tear and illness, but also, if the body is not properly aligned and then is subjected to gravity, there is stress on the body which can result in pain after a period of time. Pilates can help you regain correct alignment and posture, developing your muscles to support joints and helping you move correctly to continue to protect and get the most from your body.
If you have any sort of back or joint problem you should always check with your doctor or specialist before trying any new form of exercise. However, Pilates is recognised as being of particular benefit for many problems with the body including the back. By using and developing the strength of the deep abdominal muscles, the supportive spinal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles and the stabilising muscles of the upper back and shoulder area, you will learn to correct your posture, reduce strain and stress and realign the body. Your back will get stronger and your pain should gradually reduce. Many osteopaths, physiotherapists and doctors now recognise the benefits of Pilates-based exercises and recommend Pilates to their patients.
Our bodies are constantly changing - Pilates gives us the key to ensuring those changes work towards improvement.