Is Pilates similar to yoga?
Pilates and yoga are similar in that they both focus on breathing and concentration although the breathing techniques are different. Joseph Pilates developed a system of exercise (which we call Pilates) based on yoga, bodybuilding and gymnastics, using breathing techniques and focusing the mind to activate the deep muscles to stabilise the body. A balanced Pilates programme strengthens these muscles therefore increasing core stability, it lengthens and tones the more superficial muscles resulting in increased flexibility, improved joint mobility, and creating a more toned and lengthened shape. Yoga increases flexibility, some yoga poses energise whilst others soothe. Yoga also focuses on breathing and meditation, designed to bring the flow of energy through the body into alignment.
One of the main differences between Pilates and yoga is that Pilates begins with small range of motion and progresses towards end range joint movement while yoga tends to hold postures at the end range of joint motion and muscle length.
Some people say that Pilates is focused on how one looks, whereas Yoga is about how one feels!
How will I benefit from Pilates?
Pilates conditions the body and the mind. Regular practice of the technique using precise, controlled movements, creates a strong and stable inner core by targeting the deep postural muscles, many of which support the back. This technique builds strength from the inside and restores balance and correct alignment to the body therefore improving posture. Regular Pilates results in a more slender shape from a more toned and leaner body, a flatter abdomen and a trimmer waist. It increases body awareness creating a feeling of strength, endurance and flexibility, resulting in a sense of relaxation and well-being
Pilates benefits everyone of all ages and abilities, regardless of their level of fitness. It is particularly beneficial for those who suffer with low back pain, neck and shoulder stiffness, and poor posture. For those who sit hunched over a computer all day, or drive for long hours, Pilates is an ideal form of exercise to combat the effects of sitting in one position for long periods of time.
Pilates is widely recommended by physiotherapists and many other health professionals. It is used by top class athletes as an important part of their training.
How often should I do Pilates?
2 – 3 times a week.
Should I do matwork classes or reformer classes?
For the best all round programme, you should do both! In matwork the body provides its own resistance and is affected by gravity and your own body weight. The exercises build strength and flexibility, but the lack of support makes the exercises more challenging and more difficult, particularly where there is a lack of flexibility or strength. This is an important consideration if you are recovering from an injury.
The reformer, on the other hand, improves postural alignment, provides a non-impact form of exercise that is safe for joints. It provides support with the aid of the pulleys and springs, working against gravity to improve strength and develop flexibility. Often, exercises that are difficult on the mat are much easier on the reformer.
The final choice is yours but I recommend you give them both a try!
I’m over 50, will I be able to do Pilates?
Pilates is suitable for all ages, and for both women and men. However, if you are 70 or over it will be necessary for you to get a letter from your doctor to say that you are fit to exercise before you begin any classes.
Can I do Pilates if I suffer from arthritis?
Yes , as long as your doctor and/or physio says its OK. Pilates improves joint mobility and flexibility so helps with arthritis.
Can I do Pilates if I suffer from osteoporosis?
Yes, again as long as your doctor and/or physio says its OK for you to do gentle exercise. Pilates movements can be modified according to the severity of the disease.
Do I need any special clothing?
No, just wear loose clothing – t-shirt and jogging/sport trousers. There is no need to wear trainers, just socks or bare feet.
Do I need to bring my own mat?
Mats are provided but if you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
Will doing Pilates help me lose weight?
Regular Pilates will support a weight loss programme and will improve your posture making you look leaner, it will tone your abdominal muscles giving you a flatter stomach, and generally improve the tone of your muscles creating lean muscle mass, particularly in the large muscles in the legs and buttocks, which makes them burn calories more efficiently.
I have had surgery on my back, will I be able to do Pilates?
Once your doctor or physio has said its OK to begin gentle exercise then Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for rehabilitation. Pilates strengthens the muscles that support the back. However, some movements will have to be avoided in the early stages depending on what sort of surgery you have had but your physio will advise on this. A letter from your doctor confirming that you are OK to begin exercising will be necessary.
Why pay in advance?
Paying for a 6 week course in advance confirms your place on the course for the duration. You will only feel the full benefit of Pilates if you attend regular sessions. Joseph Pilates said “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you'll be on your way to having a whole new body.” Class sizes are limited to a maximum of 8.