Jackie asked me to write a blog for PFM….a blog that would inspire people to come to Pilates! Now for anybody who knows me, knows that I can be rather evangelical about Pilates and that my enthusiasm for it knows no bounds. Yet I could not help but feel a little daunted by the task. What on EARTH would I write about? Well, I’ve always heard you should write about what you know – so that’s exactly what I set out to do.
I used to be a runner. This is how I started my fitness addiction. Running was always a passion, but it was also a hindrance as well. I had so many injuries from running and jogging it wasn’t funny. I developed severe issues such as a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis. I had to spend 100’s of dollars on special inserts for plantar fasciitis and still continued to suffer. That’s when a friend of mine recommended something I had never heard of before: Pilates.
I thought it would be much of a muchness as in – go to a class , follow the instructor (as in a body pump or yoga session), hurt and creak and whinge and then go home happy that I made it through another class. Alas! This was a different kettle of fish altogether! For starters, I was told that I needed to complete 6 private sessions before I could join a group class. I was intrigued but went with it. After the first class – I was hooked.
This was no ordinary fitness system….it was like nothing I had ever done before. The focus and concentration needed to do seemingly simple movements was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. I consider myself quite cerebral, so when my Pilates instructor actually requested that I USE MY BRAIN when I exercise I was pretty excited. Imagine, not being able to think about anything else for an hour but what is happening in that moment. This was what all the yoga people were on about and yet I never got it.(Don’t be misled though Pilates is nothing like Yoga, but you have to try to see why! ) Here, I was able to empty my mind of all the stresses of the day and just get on with the task at hand, which was to move my body in a way it had never been moved before. It was one of the most liberating hours of my life and the sweatiest!
The breathing alone was enough to make me break a sweat. Proper breathing is primary in Pilates and sadly gets a little overlooked in some studios. I walked out feeling relaxed but energised and my body felt amazing. You see, other than the breath, another fundamental principle that gets bandied about a lot but not really focused on is that Pilates is all about the MIND BODY connection. You use your mind to move your body and the breath adds tempo and control to these movements. Now, other than yoga, I have not found another exercise regime that asks this of its students.
A lot of people ask me “Wasn’t the machinery intimidating, it looks like a torture chamber?” Agreed, it can be pretty alarming walking into a studio for the first time and seeing the equipment with chains and springs and all sorts. However, I felt pretty safe because I had the watchful eyes of the instructor on me the whole time. Pilates instructors are trained to be safe and to make sure that you are moving from a supported place throughout the session. This is why the classes are small.
The exercises you do in Pilates are very specific, like I said, you’re moving your body in a totally new way. Well, you ought to be. Some people will read this and think “I didn’t find anything different about Pilates” or “I don’t get a workout when I do Pilates” and herein lies the difference once again. It depends on where you go. I went to a Pilates studio rather than a gym, where the classes can have up to 30 people. Also, I was taken through the fundamentals of Pilates in my 6 private sessions and was taught how to listen for “cues” and become more aware of how my body moves when listening to these “cues” and thinking about how to use them. My “group” classes had no more than 3 people in them!
Ask any Pilates practitioner who has been taught by a certified instructor, whether or not Pilates is easy and you will get the same response. NO! It’s not easy. It’s challenging and crazy and fun and frustrating and wonderful and invigorating all at the same time. Yes, the classes are relatively expensive but isn’t one’s health priceless? Without it you would not be able to live a life of quality.
Today in our studio we are seeing more and more people coming in with bad backs due to the lifestyles they lead – sitting at a desk and working long hours and not paying attention to nutrition either. Life is fast and on the move especially in a city like London.
So perhaps it’s about time you found some sanctuary, a place where you spend an hour thinking all about YOU and your body and nothing but you and your body? A place where you feel the instructors care about you as much as you do or should. What does L’Oreal say all the time….? You’re worth it! Well, aren’t you? We at SALT think you are. So why not try a class and be inspired by how your body was made to move!