One of the things I love most about pilates is that it is super simple to get started. You could decide to start it right now and literally just get going. And I think you should! I've said it many times before, but there is magic in pilates - whether you do 5 minutes or a longer session, it will leave you feeling calmer, more aligned, stronger and lifted in a way that's missing from almost all other forms of exercise I know.
What's more, it's gentle and kind to your body and it focuses your mind, which allows you to drop out of everyday stresses and worries and recalibrate. Concentration is one of the key Body Control Pilates principles, which invites a mindfulness approach often missing from more higher intensity focused work outs. As I've gotten older in life, I've also appreciated the feeling that don't have to flog loads of weights or drip buckets of sweat to feel as though you've 'worked out.'
A lot of the magic in pilates is hidden in those small, basic beginner steps so never be afraid to start from the beginning. In fact, I would recommend anyone that's been doing pilates for years to always go back and do a Foundational / Beginners class at least once every year; that's where you learn the building blocks of the method - alignment, breathing & centring; understanding your 'ABCs' will help you take your pilates practice from good to great.
What are the main benefits?
Pilates works your deep intrinsic muscles like no other form of exercise, supporting your joints and spine to create a strong body that is less prone to injury. Regular practice leads to an improved range of movement, increased flexibility, better balance and co-ordination and a toned physique. Pilates is great for increasing your body awareness and proprioception, it creates a calmer mind, improved posture and the ability to use the full facility of your breath as well as keeping you mobile and strong as you age.
What can i expect from a class?
A balanced class will take you through a range of different exercises where your spine will move into flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion (side bending) and you’ll also do a range of exercises starting from laying on your back, side, front, seated, standing and kneeling. You may also use some props like balls, bands, Pilates rings, hand weights and foam rollers to challenge your mat practice even more. Don't expect to feel the ‘burn’ in every class. Relax and make it your priority to simply educate yourself on your body and the practice of Pilates.
How do I get started at home?
Wear something comfortable you can move easily in (leggings, trackie bottoms, t-shirt) and remove your shoes / trainers
Have a glass of water close by to keep hydrated
Whilst you don't need a mat. just make sure that are not lying on a hard wooden floor! There needs to be some cushioning between you and the surface you're working on to protect your spine and joints. Mats can be picked up fairly cheaply from places like TK Maxx, Primark, M&S
Spend a few minutes finding your neutral pelvis and spine
Top 5 tips for good practice
Start strong - make the time to set up properly in each start position, focusing on your ABCs before, during and at the end of each move. Try to relax and let go of any judgement towards yourself and what you're doing.
Be patient - results come from consistency so whether you do 10 mins or 1 hour, stay consistent, it all adds up.
Be present - Listen and try to focus your mind on what your body is doing and vice versa.
Slow down - Pilates is controlled flowing movement and isn’t supposed to be rushed. Fast doesn’t mean harder work, sometimes the slower you go the harder it is. The Pilates method was originally named contrology (the study of control).
Find the right teacher for you - There are lots of different styles and approaches to Pilates. You need to look forward to your class and be able to connect to your teacher and feel comfortable asking questions.
Most important of all - have fun with it and remember it doesn't have to be perfect! You can read about the benefits some of my community get from pilates in my Pilates Pillow Talk series right here on the blog. I've linked it for you above.
Has this whet your appetite for pilates? Feel free to contact me for a complimentary taster class.
Love Julie x