Pilates is a series of low-impact mat-based exercises designed to improve posture, strength, flexibility, mobility and overall wellbeing.
Joseph Pilates created the technique in the 1920s.
Each exercise requires you to engage your core muscles in combination with a controlled breathing pattern to create precise and flowing movements.
- A stronger core and better posture By using the core muscles to stabilise the spine and focusing on correct alignment of the body for each exercise you will improve the way you sit, stand and move.
- Improved strength and flexibility By performing carefully chosen exercises a whole body workout is achieved.
- Increased mobility By focusing on developing your range of motion through the joints you will be able to move more easily.
- A heightened sense of wellbeing Using your concentration to get the very best out of each exercise your mind will become better connected to your body and your overall feelings of wellness will increase.
Yoga focuses primarily on flexibility. Pilates focuses primarily on core strength and body alignment.
Yoga is much older than Pilates and its origins are over 5,000 years old. Pilates was created in the twentieth century.
Yoga has a spiritual basis and often includes meditation. Pilates has no spiritual connection.
Both yoga and Pilates are good forms of exercise. The best way to decide which one you prefer is to try them.
Pilates uses lateral breathing and you focus on breathing into the sides of your rib cage.
As a general rule, you:
- inhale to prepare for an exercise
- exhale during the hardest part of an exercise
Inhaling wide and full into the lungs increases your oxygen capacity, while exhaling provides the greatest stability and therefore protection for your core (including your back).
Pilates & Health
There’s evidence that Pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. However, each person is unique so you should seek the advice of your doctor before starting Pilates to check it will be suitable for you.
Pilates is a gentle and effective way to stay fit as you get older and because the exercises can be adapted in so many ways it’s perfect for all ability levels.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Helps keep bones strong From the age of 35 natural bone loss occurs in the body. Pilates exercises focus on improving strength to help keep your bones healthy.
- Promotes suppleness Pilates helps to keep joints mobile and reduces stiffness.
- Improves balance Every exercise uses the core muscles to stabilise the spine and help tackle problems with balance that can cause falls and injuries.
- Relieves age-related health problems For people with arthritis Pilates helps to mobilise the joints and reduce stiffness. Pilates also helps those with osteoporosis to maintain strong bones, improve balance skills and focus on maintaining good spine alignment.
Classes are suitable for anyone aged 18+.
They are also generally suitable for people with:
- back problems
- knee / hip replacements.
However, every person is unique so you should check with your doctor before starting Pilates to find out if it's suitable for you.
Classes are not suitable for people who are pregnant.
Classes are designed for absolute beginners and those with limited experience of Pilates.
There is a maximum of eight people per class to ensure everyone receives a good level of attention, as well as lots of supportive teaching to help keep you motivated.
Everyone brings their own mat which is used to perform each exercise. Sometimes I bring along pieces of small equipment to use in class too eg resistance bands.
We start by aligning our body and practising our Pilates breathing. We then move into our Pilates exercises. We always finish with some relaxing stretches.
I provide demonstrations and talk everyone through how to perform each exercise. I also provide progressions and alternatives so that everyone is challenged and able to exercise safely.
All exercises are performed slowly and with control.
Wear comfortable clothing eg jogging bottoms / leggings and a T-shirt.
Trainers are not worn during class but you will probably want to leave your socks on to keep you warm.
If you can't attend a class you will be able to make it up, if:
- you give at least 24 hours’ notice that you won't be attending your usual class
- you make up the missed class in the same 4-week block
- a place is available in another class.
Most people use this option when they are going away on holiday.