How Pilates Can Help You
What is the secret of Pilates? Those in the know swear by it and once they discover the benefits, people tend to stick with it for life. The reason is because it works. You will see and feel the difference soon after you start lessons, developing a flatter stomach, improved posture and looser, more flexible joints.
Pilates is the perfect exercise system for the 21st-century lifestyle. It works as an antidote to days spent hunched over a computer, driving in rush-hour traffic and carrying heavy bags. You don’t need to be in a studio or have special equipment to do a Pilates work-out: you can practise any time, any place, fitting it into your daily routine in the way that’s most convenient.
It’s important to learn Pilates from an experienced instructor, who will assess your needs and create a programme specially for you. Alan Herdman is a leading world expert, who introduced Pilates to the UK in 1970 and has been adapting and developing the system ever since to deal with the stresses and strains of modern life.
What are those strange-looking machines in Pilates studios?
These are called 'reformers' and 'trapeze tables' and they are designed to work the body with extra intensity by using the resistance of springs. In the studio, we will teach you basic matwork exercises for the first couple of lessons to acclimatise your body to the technique before you start using the equipment.
I'm 65 years old and I've never exercised in my life. Is it too late to start?
Never! It's never too late. Go slowly and you'll be amazed how much your muscles will respond. Check with your doctor before starting, just to be on the safe side. Alan loves working with elderly clients as well as younger, fitter ones, because they can make such rapid progress and they tend to be very dedicated.
Is Pilates the only exercise I need to do?
Pilates is not aerobic, so I recommend that you supplement it with a safe aerobic activity. Choose the one you enjoy the most, whether it's running, tennis, kickboxing or swimming. Just make sure you are performing the movements correctly and aren't straining your back or joints.
How often do I need to do Pilates?
Aim to do a Pilates session every other day, although some can be 'homework' rather than in a studio. That way your muscles will be well rested but they will 'remember' how the movements felt from the previous session. There are lots of helpful movements that you can incorporate into spare moments, whether you are washing dishes, driving, or queuing in the bank!
Can men do Pilates, or is it mostly for women?
Pilates programmes are individually designed to take into consideration the client's interests and lifestyle, and they are equally effective for men and women. Pilates can promote better technique in a chosen sport, whether it's tennis, golf or running. If you go to the gym a lot, Pilates can help to keep your muscles in balance. It's also invaluable for men of retirement age who haven't exercised in decades and want to get in shape safely, without risking injury.
Is it ever possible for muscles to be too strong?
Certainly it is. Almost every muscle group in the body has an opposing set of muscles pulling in the opposite direction; if one group is much stronger than the other, it pulls the joints out of alignment. In the Pilates studio we identify over-strong muscles and work on the opposing set to create balance.
I can't find my abdominal muscles. Do you think it's possible I don't have any?
Everyone has abdominals but in some people they are very weak. If you focus on abdominal exercises at every Pilates session and keep your abdominals engaged whenever you remember during the day, I guarantee you'll have more control over your abdominal muscles within two weeks.
Any tips to stop me getting stiff shoulders after a day at the office?
Make sure your chair is close enough to your desk to keep your lower arms at right angles to your torso and that your computer screen is positioned at eye level. Your knees should be bent at right angles and feet flat on the floor. Don't cross your legs! If you have to lean forwards, lean from the hips, not from the upper back and shoulders. Don't spend more than 30 minutes in this position. Take frequent breaks to do some simple Pilates exercises.
How Can You Get Started?
If you would like to see how Pilates works, come and visit us. An instructor will show you around and explain the workings of the studio.
If you decide you would like to give it a try, you will be asked to fill out a form giving your medical history and details of any injuries and current treatments. If necessary, you will be asked to bring a letter from your GP or specialist before you start.
At the first session, your posture will be assessed by an instructor, who will point out any imbalances and asymmetrical aspects. You may be surprised by the faults they pick up, but don’t worry – we all have them at first. Fitter people will be challenged by the teacher, and all find it an enjoyable experience. Over the next few sessions, your instructor will show you the basics of the method and help you to develop an individual programme that works for your physique. Thereafter you will use the Pilates studio to do your own routine, under the constant supervision of the instructors.
Please feel free to come for a visit – find your local studio on out contact page.