14 October 2019

The Power of Pilates

October 3, 2014

Think Pilates is just a bit of stretching – best suited to old ladies in leggings? Well, you’re wrong as Vanessa Holburn of AHappyHealthyMummy.com explains.


If you ask Sam Kellard of the POWMAK Pilates gym in Windsor whether Pilates can actively improve all of your workouts her answer will be ‘absolutely’. She explains that regardless of the type of exercise you do, the Pilates method, which effectively accesses and works the deep, stabilizing muscles located close to the skeleton, ‘will transform your ability, speed, reaction and cardiovascular capacity’. For Kellard, Pilates practice is the strong foundation on which to build everything – from cardio- and strength-training to modern day activities such as computer use and driving.

The core should be incorporated in almost every body movement

The core means more
Unless you’ve had your headphones on for the last decade, you’ve probably heard the term ‘core stability’ bandied around in the gym, on the track or in the studio. But what does ‘core’ actually mean in Pilates terms? Far from just being something to focus on during ab routines (hands up if you’re guilty!), Kellard defines the core as the ‘essential deep endurance muscles that are vital for keeping you standing upright’. These are the kind of muscles that are all too easily bypassed in our modern world, with bigger global muscles often taking over to conserve energy as we workout. However, the core should be incorporated in almost every body movement and acts as a stabilizer, transferring force from one movement to another. But ‘use it or lose it’ Kellard warns, because the body will switch off impulses to muscles that aren’t active. Put simply, if you want to stay mobile, and have a pain-free, strong body for life – you need to be practicing Pilates. And that rolls over to all your workouts too.

If you are engaging your core stability correctly, and using those deep muscles properly, your body will be balanced – and as you move during sports and exercise, you will achieve what Kellard refers to as a ‘virtuous circle of movement patterns’, which works to protect the spine and surrounding muscles. If you are working in this way, not only will you make progress in your workouts, but you will improve your posture, breathing and strength too. Practicing Pilates after a big event will also help with freedom of movement, massaging the fascial connections and mobilizing joints.


Pilates to avoid injury
But what happens if you don’t protect your core during exercise? Well that’s when an imbalance in your body and tightened muscles will pull the skeleton out of alignment. This will eventually cause injury and pain, particularly if you are repeating this pattern again and again over a period of time (through regular running for example).

Thankfully, Pilates can also be used to aid rehab – and more importantly to help avoid future injuries and improve all round sports performance. Sam has seen plenty of injured people come to her studio following years of pain, some through illness, others through working out incorrectly and some from the demands of their everyday lives. In fact Sam herself discovered Pilates after spending much of her 20’s and early 30’s consumed with neck pain. The thing that all these people have in common is that Pilates has helped them pick themselves back up, learn how to strengthen their bodies again – and to remain pain free.

There is not one sport or person that Pilates would not benefit

Fuel up your workout
That doesn’t mean you should wait until you feel discomfort before you consider regular Pilates though. Kellard believes that ‘there is not one sport or person that Pilates would not benefit’, and that it will always enhance performance because it will give your body balance and strength – and allows you to access more efficiently the bigger muscle groups. Plenty of sporting activities and conventional workouts focus on strengthening only a certain set of muscles, which could lead to problems if not balanced out. Learning the ‘lateral’ breathing used during Pilates also builds vascular strength and efficiency – great if you choose to workout at a high intensity.


Pilates that pushes you
And don’t think that today’s Pilates classes are a ‘one size fits all’ solution either. Studios like POWMAK are about as far removed from classes in cold village halls as you can get. Alongside traditional mat Pilates (but with under-floor heating and super thick mats!), Kellard and her team know how to tailor a workout to varying levels of strength and fitness – using reformers, benches, towers and Wunda Chairs. POWMAK also offers POWMIX, a functional fitness fusion class, incorporating high intensity interval training, yoga, cardio, Pilates, cross training, barre, plyometrics, functional physiotherapy movements, ballet, martial arts, TRX, gyrotonics and boxing. You will sweat, and over time, you will see definition.

So, if you haven’t considered Pilates before, or view it as a little ‘lightweight’ for you, bear in mind that it can both prevent injury and increase your strength and endurance to enable you to workout well for years to come. Why not try fitting it into your rest days to aid recovery? Just don’t expect it to be easy – because as Kellard explains, you’ll be building ‘another power source’ of endurance and speed, and that’s well worth harnessing!

More information: http://powmak.com

Pilates Gymnasium has been developed to provide an environment with highly trained and passionate teachers, delivering everything your body needs to stay strong and fit without having to go to different gyms and classes.

Vanessa Holburn, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

You can read Vanessa’s blog here: AHappyHealthyMummy.com



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