When the team Body Smart Exercise Physiology at Paddington offered Carolyn and I the opportunity to try out reformer pilates, we jumped at the chance. We have both done reformer in the past, but it’s been a long time between visits and we’ve both been feeling in need of some core strengthening.
Reformer pilates is done on a weird machine that looks like a torture device, but in fact enables you to stretch with confidence and it feels amazing. The classes we have been doing are limited to 6 people, with a qualified exercise physiologist instructor to keep a close eye on everyone.
I have very weak glutes which have been causing issues for my running and my physio told me that pilates may help build them up. After only a few weeks of classes I am definitely feeling a difference in my glutes and core, and for the first time in over 4 months, I was able to run 5km straight on Saturday at the Twilight Bay Run last weekend (which made me VERY HAPPY!).
We all know that pilates is great for you but we wanted to dig around a bit more and see how it can help us ladies. We asked Majella from Body Smart to give us the run down on the health benefits of pilates…
What will Pilates ‘fix’ for me?
Majella:Pilates can be individualised and customised to fit any injury, condition, fitness level or goals and it focuses on a range of outcomes:
helping form longer, leaner muscles
encouraging full range and freedom of movement
improving postural problems
increasing core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
providing the perfect environment/techniques for injury prevention and recovery
enhancing functional fitness and effortless movement
help improve strength and flexibility
enhancing body awareness
providing no impact on joints.
How long will it take to see results?
Majella:Of course it depends on how often you are undertaking pilates, but with 2 sessions per week it will take 4-6 weeks to see adaptations and results, as we need to re-teach the body how to move effectively, correct muscle and nerve activation and increase strength and stability.
What should someone expect on their first visit?
Majella: On your first visit, you should be met by an exercise physiologist (or other qualified professional), who will can have a one on one talk with you about your condition and medical history, any current pain on limiters, your own goals and what you are wanting to get out of pilates. That’s what happens at our studio. They would then take you through an exercise assessment so they have a full understanding of your current condition, mobility and function and therefore effectively structure either your individual or small group pilates program to best help your needs.
Do you need baseline fitness to start pilates?
Majella:Pilates can be adjusted to fit any current fitness levels and individualised to you, therefore it can progressed in difficulty as your fitness, stability and strength improve.
Can you do pilates if you’re overweight?
Majella:Yes, as the reformer gives us varying planes from which to do exercise from (laying on your back, laying on your side, standing, etc), and can be adjusted accordingly to suit every individual.
What about age – can you ever be too old?
Majella:No! We have a 79 year old lady that does pilates. Pilates can be individualised and adapted to varying levels of fitness, mobility and function, through non-impact and supine exercises if needed and it can easily be done for a long time.
Are there benefits for women going into menopause or old age?
Majella:Pilates exercises can improve brain activity, improve the general attitude towards life, increase alertness during the day and enable restful sleep at the end of the day. Women experiencing the symptoms of menopause will benefit from Pilates exercises focused on 5 areas, in particular Breathing, Strength, Balance, Flexibility, Endurance and Coordination.
Breathing reduces stress and helps to attain calm and enhance focus. Deep breathing may also help with anxiety attacks, which could be characteristic of menopause. It may also help to relax before sleep.
Exercises bearing resistance may help reduce and even reverse the decline in bone density resulting from lower oestrogen levels.
Balance exercises focus on enhancing posture, improving flexibility and body awareness. These can help prevent falls and avoid injuries.
These exercises are important to keep muscles flexible and to reduce pain and stiffness in the body.
Coordination exercises help to improve concentration, challenge your memory and increase brain activity.
What is the background of pilates?
Majella:Pilates was named after it’s founder Joseph Hubertus Pilates, who was born in 1880, Joseph was a very sick child and was very functional limited due to rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. He was given an anatomy book by a physician and he learned every single page. By the time he was 14 he had overcome his weakened physical state, was experimenting was different methods of conditioning yoga, gymnastics, skiing, self-defence, dance, circus training and weight training and pilates formed in the exercise regime we know today through many years of refinement.
After trialling reformer pilates with Body Smart, we are hooked and we’ll definitely be continuing our classes until we have cores of steel! (And probably beyond that too. Why would we stop?)
Are you a reformer fan?
Body Smart is located at the Lang Park PCYC, Level 5, 40 Castlemaine Street, Paddington (Brisbane) with plenty of parking on site, and they offer health fund rebates on their classes. To enquire or book a class, email Majella.
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