“My Mummy trains people and teaches Pilates….I have no idea what that is!”
I overheard my eldest son saying this to one of his friends recently. Whilst it made me chuckle, it did make me wonder how many other people have no idea what Pilates actually is.
Developed by Joseph Pilates, he originally called his practice Contrology and described this as a practice which “develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit”.
To me, it does all of these things. It is not however, magic. Many people defer to Pilates for back issues as some incredible system that miraculously eradicates back pain.
Increasingly modern studies are showing that it is MOVEMENT rather than specific exercises that help alleviate people’s symptoms of stiffness, pain or imbalance.
There are studies showing that undertaking a Pilates course can help with static balance, flexibility, abdominal muscle endurance, abdominal and lumbar muscle activity. There will always be another study elsewhere that claims something else is the answer to your problems or perhaps, that nothing is.
Here’s what Pilates means to me.
Moving with my breath, at my pace, strengthening, lengthening, moving and ‘being’ on my terms.
What it actually is, is a flow of movements standing, sitting, lying (on front, side &/or back) with an emphasis on engaging the muscles of your torso synergistically.
Flowing movement is one of the original principles of Pilates, along with breathing, concentration, centring, precision and control. I actually employ these principles in everything I do with my clients, whether we’re doing Pilates or not – because they give focus and meaning to each movement.
Without fail, clients on my courses say the biggest thing they get out of attending is increased self awareness. This can be to move more efficiently and feel stronger. Perhaps it just identifies that the way they currently do things is actually exacerbating any movement or pain issues they have.
My courses are all based on the original mat Pilates movements, (of which there are 34) and class sizes are strictly limited to ensure that I can monitor everyone’s movement, as well as offer hands-on support where needed.
As such, it provides a safe environment to experiment with movements and re-connect with your body, giving you confidence to move more if you have been in comfort.
It can also offer a hugely beneficial means of rehabilitation – either childbirth or injury. There are no expectations of prowess, no minimum entry requirements. Just chance and space to re-connect with your body and enjoy moving.
This is why a Pilates programme compliments a resistance or weight-based training regime too, providing an alternative focus.
Pilates not only enhances flexibility but, as you can see from above, is flexible in itself. It allows us to adapt the movements to support those who are just starting out to those who are training hard, whilst including those with rehabilitation requirements.
So is Pilates perfect for you?
It just may be – why not give it a go?
Check out the courses we have available by clicking here.
Lisa is a personal trainer specialising in female health and Pilates. Offering Pilates courses at Custom Fitness and Hykeham Chiropractic, private sessions are also available on request. For further information please visit our website and follow us on Facebook
 Is pilates exercise program effective on balance, flexibility and muscle endurance? Randomized, controlled study.
 In reality, my courses are focused on a smaller contingent of these original moves to ensure they are relevant and safe for clients of all levels