What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low impact exercise that specifically targets the core muscles with the aim to improve your general fitness and well being. By working on your deep core Pilates will work the muscles in your stomach, hips, back, shoulders and neck, therefore helping to promote good postural alignment and increase your general flexibility.
As Pilates is low impact it is a safe way to return to exercise and take control of your body again if you have any existing aches and pains and it is a great way to rehabilitate your body following injury. Whilst the exercises are gentle they are also very challenging at the same time, and you are guaranteed to feel muscles that you didn’t know existed! If you already have an exercise regime Pilates is a great adjunct to help you tone up further and aid in weight loss.
Benefits of Physio Led Pilates
By running small, intimate Physiotherapy led Pilates classes we can ensure that everyone in our class gets individual attention each week, and that we can tailor the exercises to your specific level. Each class we demonstrate different variations of the exercises and can adapt them as needed if you suffer from any neck, back or other joint problems. This ensures you can exercise safely, with the added confidence that a fully qualified and Chartered Physiotherapist is on hand for any niggles and injury queries. As a result our classes are suitable for anyone, any age, and any fitness level. So whether you’re a complete beginner or are looking for more of a challenge we have classes adapted for all levels. We currently offer beginners and intermediate classes, but we request that everyone has a 1:1 session before joining the group classes. This allows the Physiotherapist to understand your personal Pilates goals and if any considerations need to be made, and gives you an opportunity to ask about any questions or worries you may have. Then when you join in the group classes, both you and the Physiotherapist are happy with how to progress.
If everything has gone well after your 6 week check, this fun and sociable mat class is a great way to return to exercise and get your pre-baby body back. There are a lot of changes happening to the mother’s body during and after pregnancy and Pilates is a good way to help you deal with these changes. Our class targets posture, flexibility, pelvic floor and general full body conditioning. The classes are suitable for those who had a natural or assisted birth, and for those who had a C-Section.
6 Key Principles of Pilates
Principle 1: Centering
One of the first things you will learn in Pilates is how to ‘centre’. This involves focusing your attention to your deep core which is referred to as the Pilates powerhouse. Our deep core lies underneath our strong abdominal muscles (the ones which give us a 6 pack) and includes our pelvic floor. Being able to centre is the beginning of building a strong core, and all the exercises are focused around this skill. Do not worry if it takes some time to really get to grips with being able to centre, each week you will find it becomes easier and easier, and your instructor will encourage you each week.
Principle 2: Concentration
Body awareness is a key focus of Pilates – the ability to know where your body is in space, and what it is doing without having to look at it directly. We use this ability day to day, as it is this ability that means we can walk without having to look at our feet. Unfortunately, within our core stability it is a skill that can become lost when we are in pain and adapt poor movement patterns and use our muscles incorrectly. The improved coordination that comes with increased body awareness is essential in helping to resolve and prevent lower back pain, and other muscular or joint issues. The emphasis in Pilates is therefore on being in control of your movements – being aware of the moving body part, but also noticing how the rest of the body is responding to that movement.
Principle 3: Precision
Following on from above, as your concentration improves so will your precision. You will be able to more accurately align your body, follow the cues from your instructor, and maintain better form throughout the exercises.
Principle 4: Control
When you have mastered your concentration and precision, you will see your overall control of your body improve. Control of each individual movement in a purposeful way can help you to prevent injury or flare ups of chronic issues. When we can control our movement we can ensure we use each muscle as it’s meant to be used, and not over work and therefore injure other muscles. Small movements with good control are preferable to large movements with poor control.
Principle 5: Breathing
One of the common ways people tend to subconsciously cheat with exercise is by incorrect breathing technique – regardless of poor core stability or not. By holding our breath we ‘brace’ the muscles and actually don’t engage our core effectively at all. In Pilates we encourage you to inhale in preparation for movement, and then exhale as you preform the movement. This can often feel more difficult than you think at the beginning, but once mastered it can really assist in building your core strength and control.
Principle 6: Flowing Movement
As all the above improve, you will find your movements flow better. Dynamic movements initially can be jerky or rushed, but over time you will find that you seamlessly flow from one movement to the next and grace becomes more natural. This is how you know you have regained control over your body.