Why Pilates is Great For New Exercisers
If people who have not seen me in reality or viewed my life through social media over the past 15 years, they may be shocked to learn about what I do for a living, and that I actually exercise for pure enjoyment!
Rewind the clock to c. 2004 and I was living in London, working in sales roles where the only exercise I would get, would be the walk to and from tube stations and the bars and clubs I would regularly frequent. Yes, I knew that exercise was good for me, others around me did it, but I had never found a sport or activity which I enjoyed.
That was until I tried Pilates.
Thursday evenings, with a couple of girl friends, we wanted to have a go at this exercise we had heard great things about; how it helps tone and lengthen, without being ‘airy fairy’!
We also planned that once the class was finished, we would catch up on our week over dinner and a few drinks. I had expected to be more keen on the latter part of the evening, but after the first class, I was hooked.
It was welcoming. There was no competitiveness. The teacher was supportive. I could do some of the movements but there were plenty that I struggled with! But I found that it didn’t take too long to feel and see the improvements that my body was experiencing.
Over the next few weeks and months, I would feel stronger, I gained some muscle definition but I also felt more confident and I found a happier space in my head during that hour on the mat.
Pilates became part of my life; helping me feel ready for big sales pitches at work, preparing my body for the fertility treatments I would need to have my babies, through pregnancy and during the tough times I would feel during my new role as a mum, and beyond.
But it didn’t stop at Pilates! Much to my surprise, I recognised how great the feeling of exercise was! I started to get on my bike, go for runs, get some tennis coaching, try some HIIT classes… and strangely, I enjoyed it!
I don’t think I am unique. I am certain that Pilates is a wonderful introduction into exercise.
I have clients who have not done sport for years, but having found such benefit from their Pilates practice, have gone on to take up another form of exercise. It brings me such happiness that they too have found a way to keep healthy without it being a sufferance.
And the reasons. Well, I think there are many.
Pilates classes with a quality teacher, will generally be small in size, light hearted, with fellow class-mates friendly. It’s non competitive. You are not able to focus on what others do - it takes all your concentration to perform the exercises for yourself! And you don’t need to have any ‘special kit’. Wear something comfortable to move in and your teacher will provide the rest!
When you start your Pilates practice, whether you have an injury, or you’re post natal, a good teacher will give you exercises to suit YOU. It is low-impact form of exercise and you won’t need to worry about sweat! Yes, you will work hard, but you won’t feel like you have run a marathon. Although you may feel the work in your muscles a day or two afterwards!
During the class, you will be working from the inside out. Building strength from the deep intrinsic muscles all the way to the outside. You will be focussing on your alignment so your posture will improve. Your awareness of this will also help you avoid injury in other aspects of your life, whether this is driving, pushing the trolley in the supermarket or when you are playing your first round of golf!
That hour that you spend on the mat will give you a chance to focus on YOU. If you are concentrating on your breathing, where your limbs should be and what you are trying to stabilise, you can’t be thinking about that email that you need to send tomorrow! My clients are often shocked to hear that the class is finished. The hour has sped by to them as they have just been in the moment. And that feeling is blissful. Quite often, the hour in your Pilates class is the only one in the week where you HAVE to focus on the here and now rather than what you should do, should have done or need to do.
And once you have finished your first term or two, you feel the difference. Exercises that felt impossible become second nature. The breath pattern that seemed so alien in week 1 is almost innate. Those side lying leg series don’t feel like such agony anymore. And perhaps you are noticing more muscle tone.
You feel happier. You don’t dread coming to class; you look forward to that hour. Perhaps you are considering getting yourself a mat and doing some self-practice? Yes. You can make a difference to your body and mind.
And this confidence spreads to other aspects of your life. Maybe you can try the couch to 5km? Now might be the time you join that Zumba class? After all, you’ve made progress since starting Pilates… what’s to stop you now?