Have you ever heard, thought or read that Pilates is a) Gentle stretching b) For Women or c) not very challenging? If so, you have been sadly mislead. In truth I’m not entirely sure when or why these myths started to become assumed truths but suffice to say the genies out of the bottle and its time to put it back. Firstly Pilates is a Workout. You work hard, you ache, you sweat. In part because you are physically moving in a way that you may not be used to, but also because in Pilates you are required to concentrate, incredibly hard. Its not enough to just bring your body for a workout, your mind has to come too. Secondly it has become known as an exercise regime dominated by women, perhaps because Men thought the entire class would be spent discussing Pelvic floor? To be honest I would run a mile from a class that focussed entirely on that part of my musculature, and I never run! In truth the exercises are often tougher for men because they tend to lack flexibility, whole body approaches to strength are often lacking in Men’s exercise regimes just as upper body exercises seem minimal in women’s. This links in with the third myth that Pilates simply isn’t challenging. I beg to differ after three days spent at The Classical Pilates Convention last weekend where we were doing Pull ups, tumble rolls and cart wheels. I’m not suggesting for one minute that these exercises should be the first you cover in your sessions however, these exercise’s do have a part to play in demonstrating the level of strength, control and flexibility required to do advanced Classical Pilates. The fact is nobody gets stronger my simply visualising it, in reality you have to put yourself outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself, physically and mentally. That does not mean you should dust off your 20 year old pumps and start training for a Marathon tomorrow but it does mean the exercises you do should push you just a little harder each time you do it. If you want to attend a gentle stretch class that’s great, personally I will be taking Joseph Pilates lead and sweating and rolling my way to a life full of ‘Pleasurable Living’ (Return to life)…
To try….So by now you have all practiced pulling your tummy in, up and back and your already standing 2 inches taller. Hopefully you are applying this to your day to day movement, walking, swimming, sitting etc! If not, make sure you start. The more you think about standing taller the easier and more second nature it becomes, thus creating much needed space and relief not only for your spine but your organs too. So, keeping things simple, with both feet on the floor slightly apart, can you bend and straighten your knees, approx 8 times keeping the length in your spine? By focussing on the lift up through the body you will start to work the top of your thighs and your bottom, if you then try this on one leg it gets a little more challenging and starts to work the muscles a little deeper. Remember, we are trying to get the deeper, sleepier muscles to work, 8 times each side, then try with your eyes closed (make sure your not likely to trip over the dog). The points of these exercises are to increase awareness, balance and control, all things you need to have to experience great a great Pilates Workout.
Here’s a little about Suzy and you can find much more about her at www.seraphinapilates.com
Suzy is a London based Pilates teacher with over 12 years experience teaching and almost 22 years doing Pilates. Prior to becoming a full time teacher Suzy worked in the theatre industry, both as a Dancer, Performer and later in theatre management. Now as well as running her own classes and workshops in North West London she runs regular Pilates Holidays and short breaks in Italy and Cyprus. Suzy is passionate about the original Pilates work and its methodology and works to keep the integrity of the work alive today.