Physical Fitness is the First Requisite of Happiness
This week’s blog is all about Pilates! I’m sure a lot of you know what Pilates is, but there are still many misconceptions about Pilates. So, I’m going to give you a bit more information about it and what to expect in a class.
Let’s start at the beginning. Joseph Pilates created the Pilates exercise, which he called Contrology, over several decades. I’ve included a short animated video which gives more details about Joseph Pilates and how Contrology was created.
“Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.” – Joseph Pilates
I absolutely love this because it allows you to develop body awareness. So many people spend their lives living in their head and not in their body. The body holds on to so much, every experience you have and emotion you feel are experience by the whole body. If you have unresolved issues, your body is storing that. So, learning to get back into the body and reconnecting with it fully can make such a difference to you and your life.
“Moreover, such a body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all of the complex problems of modern living.” – Joseph Pilates
Pilates has a meditative aspect to it. For the time you are doing Pilates, whether it is 30 minutes or an hour, you are focusing on you, on your breathing, on your body, on your technique. You aren’t thinking about your to-do list or your workload or the kids or the husband/wife or anything else. By bringing your focus onto you this allows you to disconnect from the everyday, relax and de-stress. You leave Pilates refreshed, calm and ready to do whatever daily life is demanding of you.
We all have a dominant side, this is just the way the body is but also injuries or certain sports develop one side more than the other. In Pilates we are always working to even the sides out, so your weaker side becomes stronger and the stronger side learns to not take over. This is important because unevenly developed muscles will affect our posture, as does our lifestyle. If you spend all day sat in front of a computer, your hip flexors will shorten and your glutes will weaken, this in turn can cause back pain. This will also affect your posture and you won’t stand correctly, which will then affect the rest of your body. Working to correct these and strengthening and stretching the muscles, means posture can be corrected and you will feel healthier and fitter.
Although, we work on all the muscles in the body, Pilates is focused on the core muscles. This includes the transverse abdominals, pelvic floor and diaphragm. Strengthening these provides a stable core to help us in any sports/fitness and in everyday life.
The diaphragm is activated by the breath. Every movement in Pilates is done to an inhale and exhale. Making sure we are breathing properly is important as we don’t always breathe properly, maybe we hold our breath or breathe shallow, focusing on the breath in Pilates, allows our body to fill up on oxygen and release all the stale air in our lungs. It is making our lungs work efficiently.
So, you want flat abs? Then the transverse abdominals need to be worked.
The transverse abdominals wrap around your body like a corset. In Pilates we are always working on this deeper layer of muscle, because it protects and strengthens your back muscles too. Strengthening the transverse abdominals tightens those muscles, bringing in the waist and creating flat, strong abs.
Image Source: danceguadagno via wikispaces.com, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Pelvic Floor! These muscles are often overlooked, but they are so important. Many people only hear about the pelvic floor when they or their friends are pregnant and strengthening the pelvic floor is mentioned. Often it is mentioned just in regards to women. However, the pelvic floor should be mentioned long before that and shouldn’t rule out men.
What do the pelvic floor muscles do? They are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organ and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic organs are the bladder and bowel in men and the bladder, bowel and uterus in women. Having weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence of the bladder and bowel.
It also prevents vaginal prolapse, especially important during pregnancy, childbirth and old age. Strong pelvic floor muscles assist during labour.
The muscles of the pelvic floor work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilise and support the spine, which is why we focus on them as part of the core muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles also have an important role in sex in both men and women. For men, it is important for the erectile function and ejaculation. In women, it contributes to sexual sensation and arousal. Strengthening the pelvic floor can improve your sex life!
There is so much more that can be said about Pilates, but I will stop here or this blog post will never end! If all those reasons above have sparked your interest, then why not come and try one of my classes:
Wednesdays, 5.30pm at ARC: Health & Fitness, Glasgow Caledonian University.
Thursdays, 11am at Pure Gym Stirling.
Sundays, 11am at Clydebank Leisure Centre.
Or perhaps you prefer to have a 121 session, working specifically to your body’s needs, whether that is recovering from an injury, recovering after childbirth, are pregnant and want to keep fit or you just want an hour focused solely on you and your body, then contact me and we can arrange a free 30 minutes consultation.
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