Why do I love Pilates classes and what are the benefits? Rewind 20 years…… I loved exercise and the sweatier the better, I have dabbled in most sports from triathlons to endurance running to hill walking to yoga and at no point did I want to do Pilates.
When Pilates first entered the world of physios it was those skinny physios who drank Lattes and used to be dancers that would do Pilates (not me who broke into a cold sweat at the thought of doing a grape vine). Pilates seemed too contrived, complicated and BORING!
So fast forward 20 years and having decided to take the plunge and train to do Pilates, I haven’t looked back!!!
I love it!!! I love designing programmes and thinking about new exercises. I love using my knowledge of exercise, strength training and how the body moves, looking at which areas we are bad at maintaining ourselves and packaging it up in an hour of Pilates.
Many Pilates instructors see Pilates as a religion with principles that need to be followed to a t. I’m a pragmatist and see it as a useful way for patients to keep up with programmes that physiotherapists often prescribe. Pilates is a brand and to teach it you need to perform specific training. For physios, the teaching is simple and sits nicely with concepts we use within our therapy.
So, what is Pilates to me?
How many times have you finished your physiotherapy treatment with a file of exercises that you have promised to keep up for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
Is this sustainable? I have come across over 65’s who were given exercise programmes by physios back in their 40’s and still do them every morning. This however is rare. Physio exercises let’s face it are not the most interesting (apart from mine of course) but what is important about most injuries is that you will almost always need to do some specific exercises to keep that injury at bay.
Committing to a block of 6 sessions is a great way to make sure you will keep up with exercise. Joining a class has many benefits. It’s more fun to do these types of exercises with others, it can be social and therefore more rewarding which all leads you to keep wanting to do it.
Pilates classes tend to work on abdominals, gluteals and back work. I also use the sessions to do resistance work on the shoulders as well. Often our shoulders are neglected as we get older and they also benefit from maintaining strength. I love to work on legs muscle groups that are often forgotten such as hamstrings and calfs both of which get injured when not strong enough.
Recently a Pilates client pointed out that in our classes we were also practising mindfulness. The art of being present to how we are moving and where each movement comes from. Many times people are put off Pilates because of the incessant talking and jargon but once you are used to it and you can really imagine how and where the movement comes from it will also help with your motor awareness or body awareness.
Pilates vs Yoga
Pilates tends to offer exercises that do the things we tend to not keep up with such stretching and mobilising your joints. You can also get these gains from yoga and other similar classes like body balance and if flexibility is your main goal then perhaps yoga would be beneficial. Yoga tends to be more extreme in the movements and does not focus on specific muscle groups for strengthening. If you are struggling with an injury Pilates can be more controlled. Each have their benefits.
Most of us need to keep moving, if we are getting older and want to maintain our joints or if we are trying to reduce injury to keep up with the sport we love Pilates can help. It’s also good if you are struggling with injury or trying to ward off reoccurring injuries.