- Improve your strength, flexibility and balance
- Learn to access deep abdominal muscles to support the body’s core
- Tone your muscles without increasing their bulk
- Heighten your body awareness and improve your posture
- Improve your coordination and movement efficiency, making the body less prone to injury
- Learn to manage stress and boost your energy through controlled breathing and deep stretching
- Create a stronger, more flexible spine
- Promote recovery from strain or injury
- Increase joint range of motion
- Improve circulation
- Gain relief from back pain and joint stress
- Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury
- Enhance mobility, agility and stamina
- Complement sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity
- Improve the way your body looks and feels
To lose weight simply through exercise you need to work out in the "fat burning" zone where your heart is pumping at around 55 – 60 % of its maximum output. As a novice you are unlikely to achieve this rate of work. However as you progress you will be able to undertake some of the more vigorous Pilates exercises. However, even beginners practicing Pilates quickly find that their body begins to feel firmer and more toned. This helps to raise levels of self-esteem and often encourages people to look at other aspects of their lifestyle which might be affecting their weight. Regular Pilates practice, increasing muscle tone, plus a healthy eating plan, together with a daily brisk walk, cycle or swim of about 30 minutes will certainly help.
Pilates is sometimes described as the "iceberg technique" – in other words much of what is going on in a Pilates exercise is invisible to the untrained eye. Just looking a DVD is unlikely to give you the level of subtlety necessary to understand the nuances involved in, for example, pelvic floor work or training the deep abdominals. It takes the skilful eye of an experienced Pilates trainer to and sometimes well chosen images to help you locate these sometimes elusive muscle groups. While there are certainly some excellent resources on the market from which you could learn useful Pilates repertoire there is no substitute for working with an experienced teacher. When you have a good grounding in Pilates principles ask your teacher to recommend some reading.
There is no question that if you work with an experienced teacher Pilates exercise will help with your back pain. In a mat class you will be working with other people who don’t necessarily have the same problem. At COOL Pilates Studio we normally advise that you start with some one to one work and then progress to a Studio (equipment based) class. In this context you will be closely supervised and, most importantly, will work on a programme designed by your teacher specifically for your needs. If you can afford to attend only a mat class then seek out a teacher experienced in managing mixed ability groups (like those you will find at COOL Pilates) and carefully explain your limitations, but be aware that you may not progress as fast in a larger group class.
People often come to us having started Pilates at their local gym, often in groups of 20+. At COOL Pilates, in our Studio classes we teach one to one, duet classes or groups of 5-6 working with 2 teachers. Our mat classes are rarely bigger than 8 and never more than 10.
Generally speaking exercise is not recommended during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as it is important not to raise the body’s core temperature. If you have been attending Pilates classes regularly prior to your pregnancy there’s no reason that you shouldn’t continue with a gentle programme until the first trimester has passed, just check with your GP.
If you are completely new to Pilates we would ask you to wait until after 12 weeks before joining us for one to one or Studio group work. Mat class would not be suitable. Check with your GP first.
If you've had a normal delivery then start off with pelvic floor and deep abdominal strengthening as soon as you can. Start gently and don't be in too much of a hurry to get your pre-baby body back. Patience will prevail. Also remember to mobilise your shoulders, stretching the pecs, and keep up your shoulder stabilisation work - long periods of time sitting holding or feeding the baby will soon make you round shouldered.
As for starting a class this may vary from 6 to 12 weeks, but as a rule of thumb when you can leave the baby with someone else for an hour you are probably ready to go to class. If you've not done Pilates before then try to start off with 1-1 or Studio work. Not everything in a mat class will be suitable for you, particularly avoid abdominal curls (sit-ups) until the linear alba has knit back together, unless you are doing these with a modified cross-over arm position and with close supervision from a physiotherapist or experienced Pilates teacher.
It’s never too late to start Pilates. Pilates is such a flexible system it can be modified to be gentle or strenuous to suit the needs of the individual client. Most of our equipment is on raised beds so if you have limited mobility it needn’t be a problem. Some of our fittest clients are well in their 70s.
I normally advise people to practice around 3 times a week. Try to have a day off between sessions. If you are well disciplined and have a good memory for exercise patterns then attending a regular weekly class and undertaking 2-3 practice sessions for yourself will be sufficient. However, if you are unused to regular exercise and find it hard to remember what to do, or perhaps just lack the discipline to motivate yourself to exercise then you need to commit to more that one session per week to get the best out of Pilates.