Let me be honest. I am not a big fan of working out. It just all seemed repetitive and boring. Getting there was half the battle because I dreaded doing the same thing over and over. But I went because I knew that I would feel better after.
I do LOVE trying new things and learning. A new Pilates studio with good reviews opened up close to where I was living. I decided to see what it was all about. Wow! Am I SO glad that I did. I was hooked! Why? No two classes were alike. We worked every muscle in an hour, I stretched, and it was a fun group with an instructor doing the planning for me. I focused on how my body was responding and taking note where it needed help.
After a couple of months, I felt my body tightening up. Pants slid on without having to do the little hop to get them on that last bit. It wasn't a weight thing. I was finding muscles closer to the skeleton rather than the skin. I was working from the inside out. I discovered smaller muscles that had been neglected and invited them to the party resulting in a vacuum-packed result of how I was feeling. My body was becoming more efficient.
I became a Pilates instructor in 2012 to be able to keep Pilates in my life after emergency surgery had pulled the rug out from under me. I discovered in teaching Pilates; it is about the larger muscles getting the bones into the right position so the smaller muscles can come out to play. But what is important to remember is these newer muscles are not as strong and cannot do the heavier weight. I try to emphasize to my clients to "work from your center rather than working from your periphery." It allows my clients to find those smaller, deeper muscles harder to find, making the movement more graceful and deliberate.
I found Pilates terminology a little intimidating. It broke my heart in my early years of teaching when I discovered that half my classes had NO IDEA what I was saying. Professionals were great at being professors, lawyers...even some doctors but did not know either the medical term for the body part or the definition of a position.
When you come to my class, be prepared. I speak in very plain English. I make sure my clients clearly understand. My graphicness might surprise or slightly offend some people, but they walk out of my class moving better, feeling more connected to their muscles, and, dare I say it, happier!
Classical Pilates - sticks as closely as possible to Joseph Pilate’s original work. His original exercises and the order in which he taught them. There are slight variations according to different sources what the exact order or the same way that specific exercises were intended to be performed, and so there is contention about whose version is the “real” or the classical version. Another key feature of classical Pilates is the position of the pelvis in the mat work. Classical Pilates will generally teach abdominal exercises in a “posterior tilt,” meaning that when laying on one’s back, the lower spine is completely pressed into the floor, creating a tuck in the pelvis.
Contemporary Pilates - is based on the work of Mr. Pilates but has been modernized by adjusting the exercises to fit with modern research and has a heavy influence from physical therapy and biomechanics. Many exercises remain the same, but a whole new slew of exercises have been added, or variations have been added, allowing for injury rehabilitation and creativity by the instructor. Contemporary Pilates will generally teach exercises in a “neutral pelvis” or the position one’s spine is in when standing upright in a healthy posture.
Reformer: This apparatus is a sophisticated system of springs, straps, and pulleys with a gliding platform that you can sit, kneel, stand or lie on the front back or side of. The springs allow for progressive resistance, helping to strengthen and lengthen the muscles in a progressive matter. The entire apparatus promotes torso stability and postural alignment. I like to think of the reformer as a dance partner...you learn to move with it, not against it.
When attending a class or watching a video, you will hear some common terms when referring to Pilates' movements and positioning of the body.
Naval to Spine: The process of drawing your abdominal muscles up and in. Imagine your navel being drawn towards your spine, as though a string is connected, pulling it back.
Neutral Spine: Rather than flattening your spine or pressing it into the floor, here, the spine remains at its neutral curve. If the spine is misaligned, it can cause surrounding muscles to work too hard and overcompensate for the spine, resulting in fatigue, pain, and potential injury.
Centering: Physically and consciously bringing the focus to the center of the body. All Pilates exercises originate from the center, the core area between the lower ribs and pubic bone.
PowerHouse: The torso area includes the abdominal muscles, the pelvic region, the lower back, and the buttocks.
Flow: Being fluid and graceful, keeping each movement in a flowing manner.
Supine: Lying on your back facing up.
Prone: Lying face down.
Side-lying: Lying on your side in NEUTRAL position
Concentric: Shortening of the muscle.
Eccentric: Lengthening of the muscles.
Extension: Straightening out a limb while using the muscle.
Flexion: Bending a limb with the use of the muscle.
Hyperextension: Stretching a limb beyond normal range of movement and motion.
Rotation: Twisting around a central axis.
Abduction: Contraction of a muscle that occurs drawing away from the middle of the body.
Adduction: Contraction that draws towards the midline.
A weak core is a fundamental problem that causes inefficient movement and leads to VERY predictable injury patterns. Many people have strong rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle on the outer layer of the body) but inhibited DEEP muscles such as the transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, and the supporting quadratus lumborum.
Supplementing Pilates with your fitness disciplines will help you with visceral fat, build an hourglass instead of a tree trunk for your torso, get stronger, move more efficiently, incorporate healthy back principles as well as hip mobility movements.
Don't hesitate to try Pilates!
Refuse to be intimidated by the fancy language!
Make your instructor spell it out for you.
Your body will thank you!!