I’ve mentioned Pilates quite a bit on the blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually written about it. My journey to a regular Pilates practice was a long one. I was first introduced to it when my mom started taking Pilates classes (she says it was her way of me coping when I first went to college). She started teaching Pilates pretty quickly, and I remember doing Pilates with her for the first time in 2006. While I took a mat class my senior year of college, I got busy in grad school and didn’t continue to practice. I finally got back into it when I came home to visit over Christmas in 2010 and haven’t really stopped since! However, this winter and spring I’ve been more dedicated than ever, regularly scheduling it into my training schedule. I think Pilates made a huge difference in my half marathon at the beginning of the month, and I credit that with actually being able to finish the race.
So why Pilates? Here’s what wikipedia has to say: “Pilates is a body conditioning routine that may help build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs,abdominals, arms, hips, and back. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates’ system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises…Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports correct posture, and teaches to move with ease and grace.” (source)
We could all use stronger core muscles, whether we work out or not. Through our activities of daily living, having a strong core helps to stabilize us and help protect against injury, which is absolutely critical with each passing year of our life. I often do mat pilates at home, but when I have the opportunity to do apparatus (reformer) or chair pilates, I will immediately take it! I love having machines to help the workout!
Pilates has changed so much for me. I engage my core as I do a myriad of activities: running, carrying groceries, vacuuming, putting dishes in the dishwasher, and driving to name a few. Not only is my body better supported, but I get a little workout while doing these every day activities. Pilates has not only added a huge amount of strength to my body, but it has kept me flexible as well. While training for my first two half marathons, I lost a huge amount of flexibility. For example, I was tight enough that not only could I no longer touch my toes, but when I bent over my fingers were many inches off the ground. This third training cycle when I incorporated pilates, I kept my flexibility all the way through race day! This has been incredibly beneficial as I’ve continued to run with the muscles I’m supposed to use. When we get too tight, we can kick into other muscles which creates a cascading list of problems.
Pilates also has a calming quality to it, sort of like yoga. It slows me down, and I have to focus on my breathing and how my body feels as it moves. I feel like Pilates has done so much for me, and I’m thankful that my mom has not only encouraged me to try it, but spends hours each time I’m home correcting my form, pushing me, and teaching me new exercises. I can’t even imagine training for something now without doing pilates at least once a week! So here’s my encouragement to you- TRY PILATES and add it as a regular practice into your training schedule!
Now it’s your turn to share! Do you do Pilates? Are there ways that you “work out” while doing every day activities?