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Getting the most out of Online Classes

Lockdown has really opened up the online world, with gyms reopening are you ready to go back or are you loving online? Personally I love the convenience of online classes and the chance to access workshops I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. There are now so many different ways to access Pilates and fitness classes online. They vary in price, platform and the way they are taught, so which is the best option for you?

Having taught Pilates online throughout the Covid-19 time and having also attended a number of other people’s classes throughout this time too here is my run down on the options.

Live Streaming vs On Demand:

  • Live streaming really does make you feel you are part of something and it can make you attend! If you have it scheduled in your diary and the class is live then there is more of an obligation to be there (albeit on a screen).
  • On demand is fabulous if you have an ever changing schedule, are working around a family or just want to catch up in your own time. In my classes we’ve had children join in, pets and even my chickens made an appearance.
  • Ideally you probably want the luxury of both options. A live streamed class that you can attend if you are able but if you can’t make it then the option to watch it on demand. 

Seen vs Hidden:

  • Having a platform where the instructor can see you can be so very valuable. There are a couple of ways this can be done. A large class will mean you get the interaction but it won’t be very personalised. You will get the buzz and fun still.
  • A small class where you can be seen will mean the teacher can ask you if you have any injuries, adapt the class to suit you, offer corrections and technique adjustments and converse with you. A lot more like being in an actual class. 
  • As a teacher being able to see people brings me joy! As much as I love teaching online I really like to be able to converse with the people I’m teaching and alter the class to suit them as we go. Being able to see how people are moving shows me what needs to be worked on so I can plan this in for subsequent classes. 
  • There can be a real community from Zoom style classes. The chatter before and after connects you together and builds those friendships. Building on this a facebook/whatsapp group can be used to continue the chatter between classes. I’ve actually found lockdown has lead to seeing more people from classes I don’t normally teach and for more connection.

Screen and Access:

  • It can be handy to think about where you are going to do the class and how you will watch it. Your phone screen is handy when you are travelling or not at home but really too small to see the detail. Having a tablet, a laptop or linking to the TV is better.
  • Space to exercise safely can be an issue. There have been some amazing creative solutions over lockdown. Think about an outside space, driveway, kitchen, bedroom floor. 
  • Get your own equipment. Whilst you can adapt and use things around the house it makes it a nicer experience to have your own mat, band and head cushion. It’s like getting new workout clothes, always makes you enjoy your workout more.

The classes from Pilates with Priya are aimed at moving you forward in your Pilates journey, helping you move better and release tension and pain from your body. Therefore we like to be able to see you and get feedback, but you also get our classes on demand for later too. You will often see our teachers up close to the screen getting a clear view or asking how things feel. It is not about just exercise but technique and lockdown has shown that you can achieve that through a screen. Whilst it is always nicer to be in person with some creativity you can get the benefits online too. 

If you would like to join us then please do get in touch. I have 3 tiers of monthly membership starting from just £10 a month.

The New Normal?

Whilst lockdown has been a tough, it has also been a time of innovation and learning to work in new ways.

Online classes have been popping up everywhere with versions where you can see all the particpants and versions where you cannot. It’s been a time to try new things or go old-school back to things you used to enjoy. A time to slow down the pace and a time to reflect on what is important.

I’ve felt so very lucky to be able to run classes online, it has brought me a lot of joy to be able to see my class members online each week and to chat to them. It has also been pretty exhausting to adapt to new ways of doing things, so I’m super proud and thankful to everyone in our studio for doing this and for sticking with us whilst we worked it out.

To be honest I wasn’t convinced online classes would work, how can you correct people over the internet? It turns out that if you are creative it can work well and for some of our classes such as the postnatal ones I think it works better for some people. Whilst I will always be a lover of being hands on with people and seeing people face to face I can see that online classes have their benefits too.

Benefits of online classes:
– Able to join from wherever you are, you don’t have to be local, it is lovely to welcome back people who had moved away and welcome new people.
– Safety in terms of physical health.
– You can do it in your PJs!
– No travel.
– You don’t have to be in a certain room, you could be in the garden, the park or anywhere as long as you have your phone with you!
– No need for childcare.

 

Problems with online classes:
– Lack of space and equipment. It has lead to some creative solutions with baked bean cans, pairs of tights and using childrens bedrooms. Where there is a will, there’s a way!
– Not wanting people to see you in your homes. I totally understand this, but also I promise once you have done it you will realise people really are only watching the teacher.
– Internet access and technology glitches!
– Having “helpers” so you don’t get the peaceful class you would like.
– Harder to follow over a screen.

Whilst group classes online are not for everyone, I totally understand that being able to see each other in your own homes is not always ideal, it has opened the doors for those with children or those who have moved way who want to join in. For me, it has been lovely to see all the pets and children joining in! I like to be able to see people whilst they do pilates so I can offer correction and teaching tips.

The future for us right now will continue to involve some online classes, I imagine these are there to stay. This time is a time for you to decide what works best for you. So if you are enjoying the online classes and do not feel the need to come back to the studio as soon as it is possible, we will be supporting that. If you know you need to be in the studio to get away from the house, then we hope to support that with limited numbers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you have found online classes and what that sweet spot is with online and in person?

Should I exercise or rest?

Exercise. It’s one of those things that you often really need to motivate and push yourself to do. As mummy to 3 children I know what it is like to be a little bit on the jaded side….. or what it is like to be so darn tired you are hardly thinking straight and haven’t noticed your top is on inside out (that was me yesterday). 

So the question is when do you need to push yourself to exercise and when do you need to rest? I struggle with this one. Big time.  As someone who teaches Pilates I often have to go and just do it anyway because it is my job.  What I find is usually it makes me feel better. Exercise is amazing as it can energise you, relax you, remove your stress and leave you feeling pumped up ready for the rest of the day. However if you are unwell it can also zapp your energy levels and leave you feeling worse than before. So the key is to know when to Go Go Go and when to STOP.

Part of self care is moving and stopping. The balance between collapsing on the sofa and watching TV or doing 30 minutes of activity that helps fix your body is a toughie.

Here are the times I think you should REST:

  1. If you are unwell with a virus/bug. It may seem obvious but it can be tough to do for some people. This is totally relevant right now with Covid-19 (see guidance on this below). We all take different times to recover, so rather than judging by someone elses recovery do listen to your body.  If you are older, have a weakened immune system and know recovery takes you longer generally then BE KIND TO YOU. 
  2. If you have had COVID-19 then some extra thoughts for you. Some people appear to get a mild version, some a much worse version. This will determine your recovery rates, so if you have been really unwell do not expect to bounce back to exercise. Instead take it slow and build your fitness back up. When you are ill, your pulse rate is generally a little higher than normal, particularly if you have a high temperature or are a little dehydrated. Exercising too hard will push your heart rate up higher which could send you backwards in your recovery. 
  3. When your body just wants to sleep and you know you have been over doing it. Maybe you have had a lot of late nights working or up with children. When you are so very tired you are more likely to injure yourself so if you do exercise keep it gentle. A walk or gentle stretch maybe.
  4. If you have just had a baby then it is also key for your body to rest and heal. Whilst walking and gentle movement in the first 6 weeks can be good to do, you do not want to over do things. The 4th trimester is a time to let yourself heal, to be with your baby, and to let your nervous system calm down.
  5. For some women the heavier days of their period are times to also rest or take exercise in a gentler way. Exercise can help boost your mood but progesterone and oestrogen levels are lower which can leave you tired. Swap high intensity work for resistance training, pilates or walking and see how it feels. Ultimately listen to your body!
Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash

If you are looking for some Pilates you can do from home then we have daily classes running or you can use our membership portal for £10 a month access to a whole pile of Pilates video content.

Online pilates classes

We have moved ONLINE

It’s been a whirlwind turnaround but I’m super proud and pleased to say that although sadly the studio is physically closed we are not actually closed! Our classes are running online in a variety of ways. Pilates is a fabulous way to destress, clear your mind and keep moving during this tricky time. I know from the kind messages I get that it is keeping a lot of people going right now.

After a week of testing the technology from the studio and almost getting on top of it, lockdown hit and now all teachers are teaching from their homes. Which means you still get to see your favourite teacher but it may look and feel a little different. What we are finding is teaching online is quite intimate. We get to see you in your home, you get to see us in ours and its kinda nice. You can come to class in your PJs, with your children, pets or your favourite drink.

Plus, if you miss your actual class, not to worry as right now to help us all through this time, you get full access to all the classes that are taught in the studio, on a catch up basis. So you can log into our studio facebook group and view them there, or most classes are also being added to the membership portal. All for the usual monthly price of one class.

If you have any friends who have wanted to try Pilates then this is a great time to do so and they can be based anywhere! We will have some induction sessions running online and then they can join the normal classes for £35 a month or have access to just the membership portal for £10 a month.

Pilates: you’re worth it.

I’m noticing more people are now being told to do Pilates by health professionals. Which is fantastic as quite frankly I think everyone should be practising Pilates. In an age where self care is all the rage, Pilates is the epitome of this. It is a way to look after your body in a loving way. Yes you will work and maybe even “glow” but the emphasis is on quality of movement and connecting with how your body works.

Now you don’t need an anatomy degree to come to a class but having an awareness about your movement will be beneficial. If you don’t have one yet then after a few classes you certainly will be starting to.

Taking time out of your week to lie down, breath, focus on your muscles and then move is the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle. It can calm your nervous system whilst working the whole body. People come into a class stressed out and leave in the opposite mood.

We only have one body and it’s key to keep it functioning as well as possible. Pilates can help lubricate stiff joints, stretch the body out after a days work or a bad nights sleep and works muscle groups to keep them healthy. With parts of our body it is certainly “use it or lose it”. Some of the best Pilates moments I have with people is when they can do movements they had not been able to do for some time, such as touch their toes or get down to the mat and up again unaided.

Then as you delve deeper Pilates just keeps giving. 10 years on and I still feel like I’m learning and re-learning the exercises and technique. Now that either means I was awful to start with (quite possibly) or my body has changed over the years (3 babies and 10 years of ageing) so I have to keep adapting and learning. I’ll let you decide which!

So I see Pilates as part of the way I keep taking care of my body. What are you doing for your body this week?

How do you cue your shoulders?

Shoulders are an issue for so many of us, stress, desk working, carrying and feeding babies, walking with small children, sitting on sofas, having smartphones are just a few reasons why your shoulders may end up rounded.

When I trained in Pilates (quite a few years back!) the emphasis was all on bringing your shoulders round and down, thinking about sliding your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Which is nice cue, it makes sense and has a great visual with it. However as someone who works a lot with postnatal ladies I know that sliding your shoulder blades down can lead to the ribs being thrust forward.

Shoulders round and down works well as long as you don’t then thrust the ribs out. Think about staying in between 2 pains of glass as you roll the shoulds down and back, lengthen through the spine as you do so – this includes lengthening through the neck BTW.

The cue that helps me (a typical rib cage thruster) is shoulders down and wide. If you shrug your shoulders to your ears and then slide them down thinking about your shoulders connecting into your armpits it can help you find your lats – those large back muscles that help keep the shoulder blades in the right place. A nice visual I heard for this recently was to think about a coathanger being in your top. Bringing your shoulders down and keeping them wide.

The silent epidemic.

I don’t normally watch terestial TV, but whilst away I flicked it on to be greeted by an advert about incontinence pants. There wasn’t much of this advert I agreed with, it was normalising incontinence, specifically after having a baby.

Incontinence affects 1 in 3 women at some time. Childbirth, menopause, impact sports and getting older all affect our pelvic floor but that doesn’t mean we have to put up with it or pretend incontinence pads are glamorous. Let’s face it, it should not be normal to wee in your pants unless you are unwell or in a nursing home! Yet so often on social media it is made to seem normal.

At points in life your pelvic floor will be weaker. Hormones play a large role as does the affect of carrying a baby and pushing it out. If you had an assisted delivery using forceps that will also cause further damage. As you get older muscle mass can decline so it becomes even more important to keep those muscles working properly. We can of course adapt by drinking less, going for a wee before you leave a safe environment (the “just in case” wee), avoiding certain moves like star jumps and wearing pants/a pad. However that is pretty restrictive and isn’t living as full a life as you could.

Urinary Stress Incontinence = poor function of the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that need to relax for us to toilet, so they also need to contract to stop leaks. They can be too weak, too tight, poorly co-ordinated and working more one side than the other. So it isn’t as simple as a squeeze and release.

Now think about it, if other muscles are not doing their job what do we do? You may see a physiotherapist, take time to work on working the muscles correctly, resting them when needed, having some sports massage and work with the muscles around the injured area. It is no different with the pelvic floor! We need to focus on a whole pile of muscles around that area, plus the contraction and relaxation. You may need to downtrain the pelvic floor and you may need to change some of your day to day habits to help.

Ladies, let’s not think incontinence is normal. If you need help then seen a womans health physiotherapist and find your local Holistic Core Restore ® Coach (I’m the one for Southampton) for 1-1 work or the EVERYWOMAN course.

Pilates and the nervous system.

You know those days you are buzzing with adrenaline, you are whizzing around like a busy bee, getting physical stuff done but your mind is in an anxious state? When you constantly feel tense, you can’t fully breathe and your heart rate feels pumping?

These are examples of your nervous system being on overdrive and I know is a place I tend to live my life in. However Pilates brings me an answer to this. Read on for more. We have 2 nervous systems:

Sympathetic – this is the fight or flight nervous system. When your body is faced with a sudden threat it tenses up, certain functions slow down (digestion) and others speed up:

  • pupil dilation
  • sweating
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure

Parasympathetic – the “regist and digest” nervous system. This system we need to be working to enable the body to recover, relax and heal itself. When this nervous system is fired up we get more:

  • constriction of pupils
  • decreased heart rate
  • increased digestion
  • more saliva and mucus
  • more urine production

Pilates for me brings me out of the craziness of daily life, away from the “to-do” list, the work deadlines, the family dynamics, the household jobs and into a place where I have to slow down, I have to think about my body and I have to concentrate on me. That is why it is more than exercise. It is a way to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system and calm your whole system so that your body can restore itself.

Personally I think most of us need time daily to destress, to calm our bodies and mind, to breath deeply and to let the body slow down. Mindfulness and meditation have been recommended for years for many mental health conditions and now this is coming into physical health too. Why? When our bodies are under stress one way this can be shown is through sickness. Our gut and brain are linked closely by the gut-brain axis via the nervous system. So if our brain is on overdrive and highly stressed it can definitely affect gut conditions.

If you are struggling with your physical or mental health then why not try Pilates as a way to help. Here is a beginners video that may be helpful:

Exhale on Exertion

One of the most complicated things in Pilates can be the breathing. It is not uncommon for people to say that it feels back to front. They want to inhale when the teacher is cueing them to exhale. I remember being the same, the breathing just takes time to grasp.

So why do we exhale at a certain part of the movement and why is important?

Pilates is all about working with the body in a functional way, to strengthen it and keep it moving in the way it was designed to work. In the same way we work with the body in terms of the breath.

When you inhale your lungs full with air, your diaphragm descends, your tummy goes soft and your pelvic floor relaxes. This is the point where you have less strength and less of your core functioning. So it makes sense at this point that you aren’t placing lots of load and pressure on. The exhale part of the breath is when you empty the lungs of air, your diaphragm rises, your tummy comes in and the pelvic floor rises. It’s when your core fires. So therefore at this stage it’s when you load the body.

Think about lifting. You exhale as you lift a heavy weight. You exhale when it’s hard work. Yes?

Therefore we EXHALE on EXERTION in pilates. Thats when you stretch a leg away, when you curl up, when you press up from the mat, when you come into a teaser. Now of course there are aways exceptions to the rule and in some exercises the whole thing feels like hard work (for example the hundred) so you hold some core tension throughout.

Many of your know my obsession with the pelvic floor . By exhaling on exertion you are also helping to protect your pelvic floor, rather than sending pressure down on it. So next time you lift something or even get out of a chair – breath out and think of me!

How to combat p

It’s what you do daily that counts. This is true in so much of life.
Posture is important.  There are things that you have to do on a day-to-day basis that will affect your posture. For example carrying a child, carrying a bag, how you sit, driving a car, the shoes you wear and the chair you sit in. Studies show that sitting at a desk for long periods can lead to a forward head/neck posture which then can result in back pain.
The key is it’s what you do on a daily basis even hourly basis that makes a difference. So if you can make small adjustments to your day over a long term period this will add up. You cannot think about your posture all the time but you can adjust how you move, lift and sit to make small improvements.
It’s the same with eating. As a dietician and I know that deep changing small things in your diet will add up over the long term. So adding in one extra portion of fruit a day will make a long-term difference to your health.
So the challenge is to find those things that are causing you to have pain or tension in your body. A good way to do this is to go and see someone who specialises in looking at bodies. For example a Pilates teacher or a sports massage therapist such as myself. A postural assessment and a chat about your daily life can highlight some of the things that are going on that are causing the problems. It isn’t always obvious, so the position of your foot can impact your hip for example and what is happening at your hip can affect your shoulders.
Whilst you may not be able to change all of your daily activities that are leading to push your balances. But you can do is be aware of this and use some daily exercises to help release the tension and reverse the impact on your body.
For me carrying a heavy toddler is not great for my body. I know that I have tightness in my hips and my glutes and in my thoracic  spine pain in my thoracica spine from this. I can’t not carry my child but I can use regular exercises to help mobilise, stretch and release those areas as well as keeping strong.
So the challenge is to realise which areas of your body need strengthening, which need mobilising and to have a daily self care programme to help. It may only need 15 minutes of your day to keep your body in tip top form. If you don’t have a plan like this then find someone to work with you and to help you create one. Then regular massage, and exercise sessions will help you stay motivated and moving pain free!
Get in touch to book a session: priya@pilateswithpriya.co.uk