Class Overview – Pilates

MatPilates

Class Type:  Strength & Flexibility

Duration:  60 mins

Average Calorie Burn:  200-300

Complexity/Difficulty: 6 to 9 out of 10

Class Size:  10-30 (varies depending on type/location)

Areas Worked:  Whole Body

Equipment: None. Classes which use equipment such as stability balls etc they are provided – you may want to take your own mat. Wear loose clothing.

Music:  Soothing & relaxing

 

After my last post on posture and spending today as a rest day – I thought it mad sense for my next class overview to be Pilates.

A lot of people ask me what the difference is between Pilates & Yoga as at first glance they can appear very similar.

Both classes have a focus on flexibility, strength, balance, posture and breathing techniques based on controlled movements and stretches but there are some differences:

Being rooted in meditative practices, Yoga has a more spiritual side that is often included within the class such as chanting and aligning your chakras. Pilates does not have this and has a more anatomical approach to body alignment

Pilates classes tend to be around 60 minutes, whereas Yoga class will usually last 75-90 minutes.

Yoga concentrates more towards holding static poses for a number of breaths. Pilates is a little more dynamic in terms of movement.

As a newbie deciding between them – it’s best to give them both a try and see which you like best!

 

Pilates has a number of variations within it’s scope but the two main variations are either “mat based” or “Reformer”.

Mat based Pilates can either be “pure” – using various body weighted exercises and stretches or equipment such as bands, blocks or a stability ball  and class sizes can vary between 10-30 people.

Reformer Pilates is a much smaller class – 5-10 people, due to the larger apparatus used as the exercises are performed on a specialist board that adds additional challenges and resistance to the routine. Finding a “Reformer” class can be harder to find due to the equipment size.

reformer

One of the best things about Pilates is that it works well for a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it as much as seniors and people at various stages of physical rehabilitation.

If you’re looking to start Pilates it is well worth calling in advance to see what type of class it is and whether any equipment is used so that you can make a decision if it would be the right class for you – depending on your level of experience and comfort in using items such as a stability ball.

Needless to say in ALL classes the instructor will provide variations throughout the routine to cover beginners to advanced levels – so don’t worry too much about it, but if you do have or previously had a recent injury – let the instructor know before the start of the class so they can give you specific advice.

The classes I went to were mat based and used the stability ball a lot!

With a smaller class size the room itself was smaller than the usual sport-hall used for aerobics based classes and ensures that the temperature of the room can be controlled so that it is pleasantly warm.

The class starts by an initial warm-up setting up the body in correct alignment and focus on the “lateral” breathing and core engagement techniques to be used throughout the class.

It then flows through a number or body weighted movements, and stretches before introducing the more challenging exercises with a stability ball such as kneeling behind the ball and then rolling over the top of it onto your hands and then “walking” forward with your hands until the ball is by your feet and then back again to the starting position behind the ball.

Untitled

Whilst you may not end the class a sweaty mess, you will find it a challenge – I found even just sitting on the ball with my feet off the ground difficult!

Pilates focuses on “6 principles” – Centering, Control, Flow, Breath, Precision and Concentration and so emphasises quality over quantity. As such,  instead of doing large number of repetitions by completing each exercise fully with precision, you can gain better results.

The music is quite relaxing (think Ibiza sunsets/enya etc) which helps your mind clear and focus on the movements and breathing.

Overall – I really enjoyed the class and found it both challenging, relaxing and fun at the same time – even the instructor referred to it as “farty pilates” at one point.

I would definitely recommend it to help improve core strength, flexibility and good posture – I know that I for one have noticed an improvement in the way I stand and a number of friends highly recommended it to help with mild back pain/niggles.

For more info/classes visit:

http://www.pilatesfoundation.com/

There’s also plenty of Pilates videos/workouts on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckNDq41C7Yo

 

 

Advertisements

Are you sitting comfortably? Posture assessment

evolution-man-computer

More than likely, the question alone is enough for you to check yourself and subconsciously correct your current position whether you’re sitting or not.

Your posture is one of those things, that when someone talks about it – you automatically adjust yourself almost as if to distance yourself from the topic and deny that it is something that might affect you.

We all do it!  As much as we can try to deny it – unless you do purposely think about it, the way that we sit, stand, walk and generally move can say a lot about us but more importantly could also be causing damage to our bodies and even our mental health.

Body language studies have shown that people can perceive and attribute emotions to numerous body postures, even when taking facial expressions out of the equation for example slumped shoulders could be deemed as “sad”, standing to attention as “proud” and even that a more “balanced” posture is more attractive!  In reality this may not be the true emotional state of the person but it is important to recognise that how you hold yourself can have an impact on other people’s perception of you.

This is partly the reason why we do “correct” ourselves – we want to show that we’re not depressed, lazy or any of the other negative connotations that we may associate with incorrect posture.

When we look at our overall health and fitness, our posture is an important aspect that should be examined, either by self-checks, or a professional assessment.

Our posture can be affected by many factors – age, gender, lifestyle, clothing, fitness, emotional state, illness or injury, disability,occupation……  the list goes on.

By looking at our current posture, we may find imbalances that if left un-checked or allow to continue could continue to deteriorate and lead to more serious issues and pain.  This is especially important as we age, where age related loss of muscle tone and bone density can exacerbate posture problems.

By catching these imbalances early, we can do exercises that can help to correct them and help to avoid postural problems in the future.

Improving your posture has a number of benefits:

– Decreased risk of injury

– Improved application of force

– Improved appearance

– Improved balance and motor skills

– Reduced lower back pain

– Improved lung/organ efficiency & circulation

– Decreased risk or falls/injury as we age

……  it can even help us feel happier and more confident – improving our mental health too!

The first step in correcting your posture is by understanding your current position.

As assessment is usually carried out by being examined/photographed against a grid of marked squares – both from the front and back as well as side on – the squares  helping to spot any imbalances, between a number of points in the body (ear, neck, shoulder, rib/waist, hip, knee, ankle).  There are also phone apps/PC programmes that also do this.

5730086L

There are 6 main “Posture Types” – although there are other variations

– Neutral Spine – the ideal

– Hollow back/Lordotic – inward curve in the lumbar (lower) spine

– Kyphotic – outward curve in the thoracic (upper) spine – this can be seen as rounded/slumped shoulders

– Flat back/Military – straight spine

– Swayback – hips pushed forward and extension of thoracic spine – this can be seen as leaning backward

– Scoliotic – S shaped spine (from the front/back) – medical condition

posture_types

Once you have been able to determine your posture type and any imbalances you can then start to investigate any possible cause.

It may be lifestyle related, for example a Kyphotic posture could be caused by spending long hours driving or working at a desk. Swayback could be caused by carrying children. High shoulder could be due to always carrying a bag over that shoulder……

Alternatively, it could be emotional or a current/previous injury or muscular imbalance that is causing your body to give preference to a particular side/position.

The next step is to correct any imbalances by improving the alignment of your body. This could be something simple such as switching between shoulders when carrying a bag, wearing “flat” shoes, sitting on the other side of the sofa rather than our usual “spot” or it may be that more focused effort is required. For example if you had slumped/hunched shoulders –  wearing a shoulder brace to help pull the shoulders back, or completing a plan of stretching or strengthening exercises (stretching the muscles in the chest and strengthening the muscles in the back).

Seeking advice and guidance from a professional, such as a qualified personal trainer, physiotherapist/chiropractor or GP  if you are currently in pain)  in these matters is recommended to ensure that the right exercises etc are prescribed and avoid further injury.

Still sitting comfortably?

Here’s a few tips to help improve your posture:

1. Always warm-up before and stretch after exercising

2. Always work opposing muscles eg. Bicep/Tricep, Quads/Hamstrings – dont just work one muscle without also working it’s partner!

3. Use core strengthening exercises (plank, twists, stability ball/wobble board exercises etc)

4. Set your phone/PC to “ping” a reminder you check your posture

5. Get up and move more/Change position frequently if sitting for a while

6. Use props  eg. cushions/footrests etc. to help with alignment