Updated: Apr 7
What is Pilates? How do we pronounce it and what does it do?!
'Pea-latte-s' is a low-impact exercise that focuses on building strength and flexibility within the muscles to support the skeleton. While different exercise classes can target cardio, muscle tone and building muscle etc you'll find Pilates (and Yoga) are practices that give you everything you need to keep your body and mind strong, flexible and in balance without the high impact and jumping around!
Pilates was born by Joseph Pilates who originally created a series of exercises to help prisoners of war regain strength and mobility during during WWI! The exercises were open to all ages to develop flexibility, strength, endurance and improve posture. When he moved to New York, he connected to the dance community which discovered that his conditioning technique, called ‘Contrology’ helped prevent injury and improve strength while maintaining long, even muscle tone. Pilates has influenced so many branches of the wellness world and it's wonderful to still see its principles are still as strong as ever!
Within the practice there are 6 principles that are the foundation for a Pilates practice. Similar to Yoga but with a different perspective.
We learn to move the body slowly in Pilates, we extend the arms or legs out long and gracefully away from a strong centre, we create movements that explore a full range of mobility and engage muscles to build a strong, toned and flexible body.
Pilates calls the center of the torso the “powerhouse,” from which all energy for exercise is derived. You will notice that the shoulder girdle, pelvic girdle and spine create a capital 'I' or a square like shape. As we find focus and strength from here we can move efficiently elsewhere. The core consists of an inner cylinder like shape that CANNOT be seen, this band of muscles are beneath the six pack we often refer to when we think of core strength. Core strength is made up of the front of the body, the sides and the back!
Very much like Vinyasa (flow) yoga the movements are controlled with the breath. What you will find is that we breathe completely differently in pilates. In pilates, you will learn lateral or ‘thoracic’ breathing to maximise expansion of the rib cage and lower lungs. This means you’ll be encouraged to breathe into your back and sides, whilst maintaining core stability. We do this to engage and stabilise the core correctly, if the breath fills the belly we may loose the deep muscle engagement.
Serious concentration is required to move the body slowly in a controlled way, we want to maintain a conscious connection to how the body moves. If you're not fully aware of what you're doing you'll work less = you will get less out of the practice. As my favourite man Matthew Mcconaughey says.. "Don't half ass it".
From head to toes, the Pilates method stresses good posture and awareness of the placement of all parts of your body. During your Pilates workout, it is important to be aware of the position of your head, neck, spine and pelvis to ensure proper breathing and technique.
Every movement and layer within a Pilates exercise is performed in a precise manner with specific shapes and cues for each exercise. A focus on perfecting technique is key in Pilates to break harmful past exercise habits and movement patterns. By using precision we can become more aware of improving bad posture, help build strength within injured areas, reduce pain and gain more body awareness.
As Pilates is low impact you use resistance within your own body to work with and against itself. You'll understand how to engage the core while moving different parts of the body in a slow and controlled way. Slow and controlled is KEY when practicing a Pilates class, you'll find the movements very precise and focused. This is not only a great way to build strength and mobility within the muscles and joints but also allows you to build those brain muscles with co-ordination and moving the body with the breath.
Core strength is one of the most important foundations in your bodies wellbeing, every movement will be influenced by the core. Imagine the trunk of a tree, standing strong and tall, as we find the trunk is sturdy the branches have freedom of movement that doesn't compromise the trunk in any way. This is how we want to approach our Pilates practice. We start from the centre and work outwards. Very often we are lumbered with lower back pain, digestive issues, upper back tension and headaches not realising that this could be due to incorrect, underuse, compromised use of all muscle groups of the body.
If you're looking to improve your posture and body awareness why not try Pilates? As mentioned above its not a high impact class, my classes are mat based, without the use of weights. We move through seated postures, postures on the front and back and side lying. So you will work all body planes with control, its super normal for you to feel areas that are weak waking up, areas that work very hard to create control but thats a GOOD THING! Thats why we come to class! To notice our bad habits and movements and work with them.
Pilates classes run online & in the studio 4 times a week!
Mondays 12.10-1.10pm open for all, beginner friendly
Tuesdays 1.30-2.30pm open to all, adaptions given and more challenging.
Thursdays 7.00-7.45pm a playful challenging sequence class. ONLINE
Thursdays 8.00-9.00pm a powerful core workout, challenging and not for the faith hearted.