Some Pilates Info ...
Your Pilates Journey Starts Here! Mat Pilates is a great place to start learning about the Pilates experience. Our mat classes cover the original mat exercises designed by Joe Pilates, and incorporate new, complimentary repertoire as well. The ideal Pilates class is a whole body experience and I aim to provide this in all of our mat classes. Once we have spent time on the basics of breath, focus, abdominal connection and neutral spine position, we can layer movement on top and provide a full body strength building workout that will leave you feeling centred, revitalised and confident in your body.
Our abdominal musculature has six layers: the rectus abdominus (or “six pack”), external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominus and pelvic floor. While working the outer layers will make you look fit and provide some strength, in Pilates we aim to connect through the entire abdominal “corset”, to build functional strength and provide protection for the spine. Strength though the core also flows out to the rest of the body (and vice versa). You might hear about pelvic floor under the hazy term “Women’s Health” but in fact pelvic floor strength is important for everyone. The pelvic floor sits like a hammock at the bottom of the pelvis and helps contain our internal organs (helping protect against prolapse in women). The pelvic floor also co-contracts with the transverse abdominus, so working pelvic floor will actually tone two of your abdominal layers at once, and these layers provide the foundation for all the upper abdominal layers, like the foundation of a house. Whether you want to improve the strength of your deep abdominals or prepare/repair pre/post pregnancy, Pilates is an excellent way to tone up your pelvic floor.
Resistance is great for the body, in particular because it can help improve bone density – which we need to ward off Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. By using weight/external resistance we can build strength, endurance and tone the body. Pilates mat classes use small equipment such as therabands and magic circles (and also gravity itself) to add resistance while we work out, making it a really effective form of resistance training. As a bonus, resistance training increases lean muscle and reduces fat, which can help get rid of those wobbly bits!
Most people have heard that Pilates makes you longer and leaner – and it’s true. We focus on postural stability and strength and also use muscle strength to lift and lengthen the body – think of that abdominal corset holding you up, lifting through the waist and supporting the spine. We can also help fix or alleviate postural issues such as scoliosis, or imbalances brought on by day to day life (I’m sure there are a few mums like me out there who tend to be shorter on their baby carrying side!). Walking taller and improving stability also improve mobility, means you can go about daily life in an easy, low impact fashion, and there’s nothing like the feeling of your body moving as it was meant to.
Pilates comes under the umbrella of Mind Body exercise for good reason. Our core principles are Breathing, Concentration, Control, Centreing, Flow and Precision – and believe me, when you are busy concentrating on your breathing, precise movements, controlling your body and flowing from one move to the next, it is impossible not to be centered. Just to spend an hour focusing and being fully in the now is hugely beneficial for mind, body and spirit – for me a good session is like meditation in motion.
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” Joseph Pilates.
We all now how important breathing is to living and yet so many people could be breathing more effectively and reaping the benefits of oxygenating the body and mind. In Pilates we use diaphragmatic breathing to help connect through our core muscles and other supporting muscles, such as the intercostals, improving the ability to breathe efficiently and move correctly. We also use the breath as a way to find that last push of exertion needed for a movement – for example, try a percussive exhale during a roll up to get over that “sticky” point and notice how it helps you lift up. Interestingly, although we tend to breathe in prescribed ways for each exercise in the repertoire, we can also effect change in how we perform each exercise (and make it easier or harder) by changing the breath pattern. In fact Joe Pilates used to give his students individual breath patterns to suit their individual bodies and needs.