Why should you do Pilates?

Pilates was created by a man called Joseph Pilates back in the 20th century.   He claimed that in 10 sessions you would feel the difference, in 20 sessions you would see the difference and in 30 you would have a whole new body.  Now that’s quite a claim!  I came to Pilates in 2000 having attended my first class and was completely won over in the first hour because of the way it made me feel at the end of it.  I subsequently qualified and have been teaching it ever since.

I am currently offering Pilates classes in East Runton, and Cromer to which you can find details at www.triharman.com  with exact times and days.

Many top athletes and dancers use Pilates to assist with their training.  For example, Darcey Bussell a well known and loved ballerina and now Pilates instructor uses this method to maintain her health and mobility.  In an interview in the Evening Standard nearly three years ago she said:I truly believe Pilates is such a good thing, especially if you have had children”.

Pilates isn’t like other classes such as circuit training, weight machines or the gym as these types of exercise aim to increase bulk of the strongest muscles (the superficial muscles on the outside) , shortening and tightening them in the process.  Pilates achieves the opposite, concentrating on the deepest core muscles, (the abdominals) lengthening and elongating them giving the appearance of longer and slimmer muscles.  Consider the core muscles like the base of a pyramid, the wider the base or foundations the stronger at the peak the pyramid can be. This is the same with the body, the stronger the core muscles are the more support they provide for movement, stability and flexibility.

We all feel we have to go hard and fast to achieve the best results, to the point of exhaustion, experiencing muscle soreness and aches.  This soreness is caused by a build-up of lactic acid, little stretching and even tearing of the muscle fibres.   With Pilates the aim is not in the quantity of exercises but in the quality and therefore exercises are performed with very few repetitions, with precision and effectively.  In Pilates you should never feel pain. As I said before, excessive high intensity exercise causes muscles to tighten and shorten pulling bones and joints out of alignment and this is usually when you start to experience pain and a changed lack of movement.  Pilates will help you be aware of any weaknesses and postural problems and help you correct them.  Once you have learnt to stretch and lengthen the muscles posture will be improved bringing better alignment and balance to your body.

Pilates can help with spinal problems, neck and shoulder tension, promote core stability.  Having strong abdominal muscles will support your lumbar spine and will help you to maintain good posture and will hold the internal organs in the correct position.  Consider your core muscles.

Many of us will suffer from a back problem from time to time and is one of the biggest causes of lost working hours in the Western World.  Our current lifestyles, sitting at desks, driving long hours, are overweight etc. make you very vulnerable to chronic back pain.  Understanding the causes of back pain, when postural  alignment is consistently wrong puts more and more strain on the spinal joints resulting with  weakened muscles and poor posture.  Core stability is key to the body working correctly so it is crucial that we work the abdominals, pelvis, glutes and hamstrings to help us protect ourselves from this back pain.

Pilates is an all over body workout, it does not concentrate on one particular area but all your joints and muscles as a whole.  After all, in every day activity you use different muscles for different movements.  If the core muscles are strong and supportive, the superficial muscles will have a greater range of movement.  A good Pilates Instructor will work from top to bottom and from side to side including all the major joints of the body with gentle exercises and low repetitions.  The exercises will flow, be precise and aim to strengthen and lengthen the muscles.  All and everyone can benefit from doing Pilates even those with serious disabilities or mobility problems.

As athletes we often get carried away with always working very hard to achieve great results but will neglect that the body needs to be stretched and needs ample time to recover and repair itself.  Spending a minimum of 15 minutes stretching after exercising you will reap the benefits.  Doing at least an hour of Pilates a week the results will be tenfold.

Consider doing Pilates for life, getting into the habit of doing Pilates and always thinking of correcting your posture without putting undue stress on your joints.  Doing Pilates regularly will improve your everyday life it’s just a matter of dedicating an hour or more a week to it.  You will see and feel the benefits within weeks as Joseph Pilates said, “In 30 weeks you will have a whole new body”.

Teresa Harman