Joseph Pilates was fond of quoting from Schiller: ‘It is the mind which builds the body.’
While he was held in an internment camp on the Isle of Man during WW1, Joseph Pilates taught the exercise techniques he had developed, to many of the 23,000 men interned with him. He invented his own unique apparatus, which we now call the Reformer, from manipulating the springs of his dormitory bed.
However, when a Reformer is not available – it is a large and expensive piece of equipment, so you don’t find them everywhere – Pilates exercises may be performed equally well on a mat.
Pilates exercises build the body’s core strength and improves your posture.
Each exercise is built around eight principles:
As with the Reformer, so on the mat: emphasis lies on the unity between mind and body, while the focus is on the quality of the movement, rather than on the number of repetitions. Pilates exercise programmes are designed to eliminate weaknesses and bad habits and to challenge bodily strength, through a series of stretching and conditioning exercises.
A refreshing mind-body work out
By focussing on proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment and concentration on smooth flowing movement, you will become in tune with your body, learning how to control your movements and able to put the knowledge to work in your every-day life. Learning to breathe will help you to manage any stress you may carry.
Develop a strong core and give yourself flat abdominals and a strong back
Pilates mat exercise helps you to develop a strong core, or centre of the body. Your core consists of the deep abdominal muscles, along with the muscles closest to the spine.
Gain long, lean muscles and flexibility
Conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles, while Pilates elongates and strengthens the muscles, improving muscle function, elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.
Create an holistic , evenly conditioned body, improving performance and preventing injury
Pilates conditions the whole body, right down to your feet. No muscle group is over- or under-trained; instead, the entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, resulting in better performance in sport or daily living activities. Again, having a strong, balanced body will protect you against injury.
Learn how to move efficiently
The practice of Pilates trains several muscle groups at once, through smooth, continuous movement. By developing proper technique, you can retrain your body into safer, more efficient patterns of motion, invaluable for injury prevention or for rehabilitation after injury. You will also develop good practice for sports performance, good posture and optimal health.
Pilates is gentle
Many exercises are performed in sitting, lying or kneeling positions. The exercises are low impact and partially weight bearing, which is why the practice is so often used as a tool in injury rehabilitation.
Pilates is a versatile and flexible exercise system that can be tailored to the individual to allow for a range of difficulty, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Get the workout that best suits you now; then increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.
I also run mat Pilates classes at the following venues and times:
The Grove, Bradmore Park Road
Hammersmith W6 0DT
Tuesday, 9.15 am
Genesis, Opposite K West Hotel
The Shepards Building
I started working with Susan 8 weeks after the birth of my third child. Prior to that pregnancy I had injured my back and with the additional baby weight, the situation had deteriorated substantially. By the time I gave birth I had almost constant sciatica in my left leg and could not sit or walk without pain.
While I knew pilates was supposed to be beneficial for both back pain and postnatal, it was not something I had done much of. However, I needed to make a change and Susan offered local postnatal courses with a broader focus on corrective pilates.
Susan is fun to work with but tough on technique. She is passionate about ensuring you develop good skills which you can then deploy in everyday life. For the first few months working with Susan, I focused mainly on post-natal recovery and slowly regaining core strength and stability. As the months progressed, she introduced more advanced techniques and I increasingly supplemented this work with other sessions in the gym. By combining this exercise regime with a healthy but strict diet, I was able to shed all the baby weight and more. By about nine to ten months postnatal, I was no longer suffering any pain and could even touch my toes – something I had not been able to do for over two years!
Susan has taught me how to correctly engage my core which has completely changed how I exercise and lift weights. I am far more stable and no longer incorrectly compensate where I am weak.
I do a pilates class once a week with susan. I was worried theclass would be too difficult for me but the process has actually been
brilliant. The best one best result is a better understanding of what I am doing and why. This has enabled me to practise at home as I can hear her words in my ear!