If you ever read my Exercise Test Dummy posts (which I'm totally planning on getting back into by the way!) then you'll know that I love exercises that are based on dance, yoga and Pilates. Basically things that are more about strengthening through static movements as opposed to lots of cardio. Yes, I am aware that I also need to get more cardio to be healthy — and I'm totally trying to get back into that — but in terms of my general enjoyment of the exercises this is where I always sit.
Pilates is a great exercise to incorporate into our lives because it can be tailored easily for every fitness level as well as being used with a lot of rehabilitation — it focuses on control and functionality rather than throwing your body into other positions or lifting weights above your level. We asked Sara Colquhoun of Pilates By Sara to explain what makes Pilates great as well as giving us some advice for how we can incorporate more of these beneficial exercises into our lives without making major lifestyle changes.
- How did you get into Pilates? I first got introduced to Pilates through my local dance school. They had one mat class a week which we all really enjoyed. Then I seriously got into Pilates when I was 16 and dancing 5-8 hours a day. I had Patella-femoral syndrome which is a tracking problem of the knees. I was unable to get through a full dance class at this point due to pain. I then found studio Pilates using the reformers, cadillacs and wunda chairs and learned to rehabilitate my knees. This was when I fell in love with Pilates.
- How long have you been practicing for? Showing my age now but I have been practicing for going on 16 years.
- How would you describe Pilates to someone who has never practiced it before? Pilates is the ultimate combination of strength, stretch and coordination. It requires someone to continually improve their mind body connection in order to progress. The equipment is designed to create long lean muscles and support certain areas of the body while it challenges others. Pilates will transform your mind and body if you give it time to work its magic!
- What makes Pilates beneficial? Pilates is extremely beneficial for people from all walks of life. The exercises and equipment help improve posture, relieve general aches and pains, and assist to create better overall anatomical alignment. Pilates increases intrinsic and global strength, increases flexibility and teaches the body to move fluidly and efficiently. This in turn helps to prevent injuries from occurring, leaving the body free to do the daily activities people love to do!
- What's one way we can incorporate more movement into our lives? Here’s one simple way we can easily incorporate more movement into our day. I like to call it “mindful movement” as the main thing it requires is your mind to make the decision to move rather than sit. Most of us spend the day sitting at a computer screen so to increase your hip and spine strength try this trick!
When you go to get up out of your desk chair or off the couch try:
SIT to STAND x 10. Instead of standing up and walking off to get that coffee, stand and sit back to the edge of your chair 10 times before you walk away.
Imagine if you did this every time you went to stand up from your desk!
Now get excited about Pilates with 5 Pilates exercises you can do at home — click through the gallery for an explanation of the exercises as well as some Dos and Don'ts for each exercise.
Movement — Bend elbows, then engage the triceps to press the arms to straighten. Try to keep the upper arms still through this movement and the shoulders drawn back.
Repeat this action x 20 and then single arm x 15 each.
DO — Think of the elbows being drawn closer together and the abdominals drawing back to the spine.
DON’T — Allow the spine to round forward. This will round the shoulders and will affect the triceps from doing the work.