If you are thinking about doing Pilates you are probably asking yourself these questions: “What is it and what are the benefits?”

Created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, his aim was to create a system to engage the mind and condition the total body.  It is a blend of strength and flexibility training. The emphasis is on improving your core, posture, alignment, reduce stress, aches and pains and create long lean muscles without bulking up.  You will feel elegantly empowered by developing a sense of wellbeing and inner confidence.

 

BENEFITS

The benefits are functional and will help support you in your daily life activities and other exercise disciplines whether it is golf, dance, HITT or football.  Also, it can improve your sex life but hey ho, that’s another article to come…..  Everyone can benefit from Pilates and at any age too.

I am often approached by people that want to do Pilates but feel they are not quite ready and say things like “But I am not flexible enough, I don’t know where my core muscles are, and I feel very disconnected from my body” I say that is precisely why you need to do Pilates NOW!

It is like washing your hair before you go to the hairdressers or cleaning up your house before the cleaner comes (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Why?    Because you may think people are watching and judging you. The truth is they are far too focused on themselves and that’s how it should be.  This is not a competitive practice, rather a route for personal empowerment at your own pace.

Pilates is totally a mindful practice. Focus is on the quality of movement and not the quantity and you feel like you are working from the inside out.

Beginning a new exercise regime such as Pilates can seem daunting. It may look intimidating if you’re not prepared. Here is a checklist for beginners Mat Pilates (basically you’re working on a mat) that may help to take away some of the uncertainty.

Firstly, if you have any issues or conditions, get clearance from your doctor and aim to do classes at least 3 times a week to get great results.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A MAT PILATES CLASS

Many start with a group Mat Pilates class. If possible, see if you can observe a class before signing up. This gives you a chance to observe the instructor. They should be certified and insured and have the following characteristics:

  • Give clear, easy-to-understand directions and demonstrations.
  • Be enthusiastic (not necessarily hyper – just an obvious love for what they do).
  • A good instructor will engage you.
  • Not every student is going to be doing it right but look at them and see if you can discern the kind of achievements you want to reach.
  • Also note if the students who are struggling are getting help. Does the instructor ignore them, or give individual help when needed and offer modifications? Does the instructor get impatient with students who don’t quite “get it” right away?
  • Accept you will make mistakes, the process of learning and perfecting never ends.

 

START AT THE BEGINNING

  • Always start at a beginner’s level to help you understand the main principles. Don’t jump into an advance class just because you are super fit, bad habits are easily formed and then even harder to unlearn. I work with a lot of professional dancers and they ALWAYS come to my beginner’s classes to strip things bare and not lose sight of those principles {I explain those later in this article).

 

WHAT TO WEAR

  • Your instructor will need to see your muscles and posture easily to see if you’re doing the exercises correctly. Thus, big baggy clothing is not a good idea. Aim for comfortable clothing that is stretchy, like dance apparel. It should cling to your body enough to see what you’re doing but not be binding or inhibit movement.

 

EQUIPMENT

  • Buy a Pilates or Yoga mat, starting from about £l0. Whether you are doing Pilates in a class or at home, having your own mat is a good idea for hygiene reasons.
  • Some teachers may use small or large stability balls, resistant bands and rings or weights.

 

COST

  • The average Mat Pilates class can vary and cost between £10/£20 or possibly cheaper with a block booking. If you are a member of a club the price maybe included in your package.

 

PILATES PRINCIPLES

Every teacher will have their own personality when teaching.  I bring elements of my dance background where the aspect of rhythm and flow are emphasised with being graceful, aligned, poised and powerful.  This shapes my style.  Hence, the principles will always be the same, so then it becomes a choice of simply who you prefer and connect the most with.

The six main Pilates principles are essential components that work harmoniously together in every movement to help you achieve results.  It is an integrative approach of the mind, body and spirit to exercise.  It feels very healing and rehabilitating creating balance and transformation.

 

  • CONCENTRATION: Being aware and committed in that moment. There is a difference between doing a movement and being engaged in that movement to how you will benefit and feel. This will all depend on your ability to concentrate which will improve.
  • CONTROL: Movements are conscious and deliberate, you are in complete control. No movement is random.
  • CENTERING: This refers to your core or powerhouse – the area under the ribs to the top of the thighs. By developing an awareness and strength here it will support the rest of your body with every movement you make.
  • PRECISION: Every movement is precise with emphasis on the quality and not the quantity.
  • FLOW: Movement should be graceful, fluid and done with ease that hopefully transcends into other areas of your life as well.
  • BREATHE: Focusing on the breath can help promote attention and awareness and will help create a connection in the body as you do each movement.

So maybe NOW is a time to stop thinking about it and just do it!

And if you are doing it, challenge yourself and get more connected to you!

Love, peace and chocolate,

Cherron XXX