What exactly is Pilates and what can it do for me?
I get asked this a lot. Let me start at the very beginning.
I was born with a bad hip, a thing called hip dysplasia- very simply, it means my hip doesn’t properly fit into my socket. I was never really a problem until I started dancing. Then I became incredibly painful and my leg used to give way for no apparent reason. I was always falling over (non-alcohol induced, I promise!).
I started to practice Pilates many years ago to help build strength in my own hips, which it did. I also became completely pain free, something I realised I’d never really been. I noticed that my posture was improved and I walked differently- lighter and taller somehow.
That’s when I decided that, ‘hmmmm’ perhaps there’s something in this Pilates malarkey, and I decide to train to become a teacher.
The true definition of Pilates as defined by Joseph Pilates in his book Return to Life through Contrology (his original name for it, only after his death did it take on his name), presents his method as the art of controlled movements, which should look and feel like a workout when properly manifested.
If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body. It emphasises alignment, breathing, core strength, improving coordination and balance. And…yes Pilates can help you to lose weight (another question I get asked a lot, I wrote another blog post about that, you can find that here).
But…there’s something else, I’ve been thinking about this, and what Pilates truly is.
Yes, we look at alignment, posture and building stability, all of which are incredibly important – but what I think are much more far-reaching is freedom, hope, confidence and a greater awareness and appreciation of our own bodies.
I’ve been teaching Pilates for many years now, and I see people coming to me broken. They’re in lots of pain, they are scared – they’re scared of the future, they’re scared they’ll not be able to work anymore and they’re scared to move incase they do more damage. When in this situation you can’t focus, all you can focus on is the fear and the pain. There’s nothing else there, just desperation for something to help them apart from increasing doses of painkillers.
Being able to help give these people hope and just some small glimmer that there might be a different path, that they may be able to help themselves.
I teach a very specific system, not all Pilates teachers are the same.
My system essentially has 3 phases;
- Find and strengthen the inner core. (Awareness)
- Increase mobility and stability whilst engaging the inner core. (Stability)
- Build strength to support the rest of the body. (Strength)
My system has proven to work countless times over the years, and of course, I’ve honed it and improved it as I’ve learned and practiced more myself. Building awareness first through breathing exercises, confidence building and small movements is the foundation. Without the foundations correctly in place, your castle is being built on sand.
Everyday I get messages from folks that my system has helped;
‘I literally think you’re a superhero. Almost a year pain-free. You cured me. I’d rather give birth again than have back pain’ – Beth