30 Sessions to a New Body?

There is a well known and loved quote from Joseph Pilates himself that in 30 sessions you will have a new body. I sometimes think that this quote gets taken out of context and leads to people expecting a beach bikini ready body from 30 pilates sessions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but doing Pilates once a week for 7 months is not going to do that.

So was Mr Pilates wrong? No, I don’t think so, but I think he had a different emphasis on this. I think he was meaning 1-2-1 sessions rather than group classes, he used a lot of equipment including the reformer and cadillac. I think he would have been expecting homework to be done between sessions and I think his style of teaching would have demanded you continually work on your posture and core daily.  Let’s face it, 7 months working in this way and you should be seeing great results.

This is not to say doing a weekly Pilates class isn’t beneficial. More of the point to highlight is that a weekly class is only 1% of your week and what you do the remaining 99% is key. So making Pilates a regular part of your day is the key. This doesn’t have to be a full hours workout, but more taking 10 minutes to focus on a few target exercises and keeping your posture high up the list of priorities in your day.

If you can manage a regular 1-2-1 session then this will also step things up a gear for you. I always notice that I work harder and see greater benefits for my own Pilates practise and body when I have regular 1-2-1’s. These don’t have to be weekly, I have clients who book in monthly for a reformer session to get that extra input and encouragement. Taking your Pilates from the mat to the equipment can show you where you need to focus your efforts. I’ve recently found that although I can do a roll up on the mat with ease, when I do it on the box on top of the reformer I struggle to get segmental work through one part of my spine. Cue a lightbulb moment and lots of focused stretching, segmental moves and practise.

So this post is all about encouraging you to take your Pilates out of the studio. Find some moves that you know you need to work on. The moves that you struggle with or the ones that you know help your body. Get your focus onto your posture and your everyday movements. Then you will really start to see the changes.

The 3 top benefits of postnatal pilates.

It strengthens your core and fixes your body. This is HUGE NEWS. Mums are lifting, bending, rotating, reaching, rocking, pushing and feeding babies. A whole lot of work and strain on the body. The core is made up of the abdominal muscles, the back muscles and the pelvic floor. This cylinder provides the support for the rest of the body to move. After carrying a baby in your womb for 9 months there has been quite a strain on the core. Your abdominals have been stretched and may have stretched apart slightly (diastasis recti). Your pelvic floor muscles have been supporting a heavy load and then may have helped push a baby out. Your lower back muscles will need supporting and strengthening as your baby grows and gets heavier. This is where Pilates has been invaluable for me and it fixes me weekly. Yes there are plenty of other fitness classes you can do postnatally, but a specialised postnatal Pilates is the one you want to do FIRST. It provides you with the foundation that you need to rehabilitate your body after pregnancy and labour. If you do not strengthen your core and get your posture sorted then later along the line you could suffer set backs and problems such as leaking and abdominal separation that doesn’t heal up. If you have this issue come see me for a 1-2-1 session.

If you have pelvic floor issues then you need to be on my pelvic floor workshop.

There are a couple of ways we work on core strength in classes.

Firstly BREATHING. It is something we all do all of the time but breathing using the diaphragm will help the core work in synergy. The Diaphragm, abdominals, back muscles and pelvic floor are all involved in breathing. Try this out:

1. Place your hands around your ribcage. Inhale feeling the breath come into your ribcage. So your ribs move out to the side, your back expands, your chest expands.

2. As you exhale, breath out with pursed lips, feel the tummy come in, the lower back tense and try to get right to the end of your breath to feel an tension in your lower abdominals and a lift in your pelvic floor.

3. Practise this for 5-10 minutes and it really can help, plus it relaxes you 🙂

All the Pilates moves are layered on top of the breathing. It can take a while to get the breathing at the right time and in the right way but suddenly it will click.

It reconnects you with your body. As a mum your primary focus is on your gorgeous baby. There is less time for you to look after your own body and this can get pushed down the list of importance. However your postnatal period is an important time of recovery for you.

A postnatal class can teach you how your body feels when you do certain movements. I know I can be busy rushing around all day and then suddenly in a class I realise my shoulder is out of alignment or my hips ache. It makes you focus on your tummy and pelvic floor, an area many mums don’t want to connect with post-birth. Let’s  face it things are changed in or bodies but it is something to embrace and work to strengthen rather than to avoid. A class also means someone else also has a look at how your body is functioning, which can give you valuable insights and reassurance.

I myself go to classes so that someone who knows my body can give me feedback and push me further. We all need someone who knows us well to watch out for us.

It is you time. Our postnatal classes are run with a creche. I love babies, but having taught with one crawling around the studio, going under and over me… I know how distracting it is to doing the moves correctly. You tense up in order to ensure baby is safe which then means you do not get the full benefit from the class and exercises. You listen to their noises and not your body.

We’ve found over the years that having a creche away from the studio works best. Then the mums are not listening out to their babies, they aren’t all in the studio freezing each time a  baby makes a noise, working out if it is theirs, if so do they need to go to baby. It takes trust on the part of the mum, but James has been running our creche for 7 years now and has seen an awful lot of babies in that time. If he can’t cope and needs a mummy, he knows when to ask.

So if you are thinking about trying a postnatal class I would highly recommend you try Pilates. Yes I am completely biased, but I am also proof that it works. Having had 3 babies, I have rehabilitated each time with Pilates. It works.

Children’s Pilates is Starting!

Pilates with Priya: Children's Pilates Classes

 

After much nudging and poking from my own daughter and other mummies, I’ve finally taken the plunge to put on a children’s Pilates class. My own girl loves Pilates and often asks to come into a class. She actually really gets the concept of it and it helps her move more, stretch and slow her busy mind down too.

Theses classes will be focused on partner work, posture, stretching, functional movements and chilling out. Mindfulness is the buzz word right now, we will be using body movements in a calm, flowing way to relax the mind and hopefully the children will really benefit from this and sleep well!

Get in touch if your child would like to come along.

Pilates for Dancers – Dance Circle Day.

What an honour to be asked to teach at the first Southampton Dance Circle Day on May 30th 2017. This was an event run by local dance teachers, all working together to put on a great event for any children in their dance schools and in the local area. I love the collaborative nature of this, the non-competitiveness and the sheer passion the teachers all have.

Pilates is well known to have amazing benefits for dancers. Joseph Pilates himself worked dancers and in fact for a while Pilates was taken over by the dance world. So without a doubt Pilates can help children in dance too. I was excited and slightly nervous to see how a Pilates class would go down in a day of other exciting dance classes. I was part of an amazing line up including: Ballet/Contemporary with Louis McMiller (Royal Ballet Grad), Contemporary with Amy J Ireland, Musical Theatre with Sarah Evans (recommended by West End Star Ricky Rojas), Tap with Viki (trained with Tap Attack), Hip Hop with Cesa Hijo de Lalan.

The children there were a pleasure to be with. The older ones really worked hard and I could see them taking what I was saying on  board. I was able to push them quite hard and they even posed nicely for the local paper!

Pilates with Priya: Dance Day Pilates

The middle group of children had the definite mid afternoon slump session and so Pilates was great for them as they got a little lie down and some super stretching was done.

The tiny ones were super cute to teach, I could have cuddled them all! At the end of a very busy and active day a few were almost asleep but they gave such concentration to the class, I was super impressed.

Dance day pilates 2

Thankyou so much for asking me to come along and teach, I hope the children enjoyed it. Some of the feedback that I have heard so far is it made some of them feel all calm and relaxed, which is a good thing in my book! Maybe we should add in some mindfulness next time too.

Next Dance Circle Day is October half term. I know I will be booking my girl on it.

If you are interested in a Children’s Pilates class then do get in touch, we are launching one soon!

Pilates at Riverfest

May bank holiday weekend is festival weekend. Well in Southampton anyway. Whilst Common People had all the big names over on the Common, our local park, Riverside Park,  had it’s own first festival called Riverfest. This was a wonderful event that brought together so many from our local community and worked to highlight our local businesses, science, arts and celebrate our river and park.

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 1

With music from many bands (my fav being the Southampton Ukelele Jam), puppet shows, stalls, cafe’s, spoken word, fruit and vegetables, scientific experiments, boating, whisking (swapping of items you no longer need), yoga and of course, pilates.

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 2

This was the first time I’d taught Pilates outside. I’d often thought about it, Pilates in the Park sounds fabulous, but a studio with a comfortable floor, mirrors and easy access to equipment is always easier! We bundled some mats up into our pram and set off to the park with the whole family to give it a whirl. Setting out mats on the grass instantly attracted lots of children, so I actually ended up teaching quite a few small people. It was so nice to see them get involved and enjoy it, showing their parents what to do. I think we need a children’s class added to our studio timetable now!

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 3

Pilates with Priya: Riverfest 4

The event had a real community spirit to it. It was lovely to see so many people (about 4,000 attended) come along, lots we knew, lots who knew who we were. It showed the local talent and amazing businesses we have.

So would I teach Pilates outside again? Totally YES. It obviously presents its challenges, but it was such a beautiful setting and so nice to be in the fresh air doing our thing.

 

What to look for in a good Pilates class

Pilates is such an amazing form of exercise, in fact I would call it a lifestyle and something that everyone needs to be embracing. Like all things there are a lot of variations on a theme out there and a lot of different types of classes around, some amazing, some less than good. Whilst I am certainly a fan of variety and keeping it fresh, there is also the need to make sure the class you are going to is teaching you correctly and that it is actually Pilates (if that is what you want to be doing).

Pilates with Priya: what makes a pilates class great

So here are my thoughts on what makes a great Pilates class:

  1. Check the qualifications of your teacher. Have they got a Level 3 Pilates qualification. Ask them how long it took them to qualify. If it was just a weekend then there is something wrong! A decent Pilates qualification takes time and more money than you may expect to complete, it involves course work, theoretical and practical exams and ongoing training. I do several courses a year and am continually learning through reading, practising and watching others teach. They should also be attending some sort of class or pilates 1-1 session themselves regularly to improve their technique.
  2. A small class is key. Too many people and you will not get that individual attention and help from the teacher and can end up doing the exercises wrong. I take a maximum of 8 people in my classes. I started out being asked to teach large classes in sports halls, I had to stop as for me it just wasn’t pilates, there was no way I could correct and watch everyone.
  3. Is it safe? You should have to complete a medical form of some sort and be screened for any health issues, injuries, muscular problems, back issues, pregnancy etc. It is important to keep your teacher up to date on your health.
  4. The venue – for me this is important. Is it lit well enough so you can be seen, the teacher needs to see your body to be able to correct it. Mirrors are a big bonus as they help you see your form and help your teacher see everyone easily. You don’t want to be a in large hall, miles away from the teacher.
  5. The teacher – are they approachable and do they explain things well? If you don’t understand, can you stop them and ask? You should expect to be corrected either verbally or through the teacher moving your body. If you don’t like their approach or manner it isn’t going to work in the long term.
  6. There are many Pilates bodies and variations out there now. Body control Pilates, Stott Pilates, Pilates Foundation, to name a few. Whatever class you go to, Pilates is meant to be controlled, fairly slow, there should be plenty of emphasis on posture, on the technique, on using the right muscles and on the breathing. If you end up in a fast paced class it isn’t necessarily not Pilates, but it may not be appropriate for a beginner.
  7. Is the level set right? Beginners thrown into an established class can make it hard to pick up the technique and hard for the others in the class who may have to slow the pace down. Learning the technique and basic principles is key in Pilates, so a beginners course or a 1-2-1 session first is a good idea before joining a regular class.
  8. Does it progress you? Doing the same exercises week in and week out is not going to challenge you, after a while your body will adapt and you will plateau. Having fresh challenges and harder exercises to do as you improve is important to help you improve and to keep your interest.
  9. Is there a passion and enjoyment in the room? If there is a good vibe then it is likely that it is a good class. A teacher who loves to share their knowledge, wants to help you understand it, cares about how you are feeling and will give you homework, extra helpa and chat afterwards is a good indicator that it is a good class.
  10. Do you feel good after the class? Pilates shouldn’t hurt – well not in a bad way! You may have slighly sore abdominals, legs, arms or bums but not to the point it is really painful. Many of our clients will say they feel lengthened, like they have worked but also they feel more relaxed.

So when you are looking for a class, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have a good nose around the persons website and social media, it can tell you a lot about that teacher. Expect a teacher to ask you lots of questions about your body and to correct you with their hands and voice. Small classes with teachers who are known to know their stuff are the way forward.

 

Pilates in Pregnancy, it’s a must.

I’ve been lucky enough to teach antenatal pilates for 4 years now and in that time I must have worked with over 250 ladies. I’ve also used pilates myself through 3 pregnancies and it has helped keep me strong, shown me which parts of my body needed working on and enables me to keep working and being a hands on mum throughout. The comments we get from some of our ladies are:

“If I miss a class I really notice the difference”

“My hips and pelvis ache less and I can feel the difference Pilates is making”

“Classes help to keep me strong and relaxed during pregnancy”

“I always leave feeling better than when I arrived and with exercises to use in the week”

 

Pilates with Priya: Antenatal Pilates class

 

Antenatal Pilates offers multiple benefits including, developing your natural corset to support your back and baby, helping with the changes to your posture, pelvic floor education, breathing technique, toning the muscles and, thus, helping in weight management. Practising Pilates on a regular basis can improve posture, alleviate backaches, and, ultimately, help with labour and delivery. It can even help the baby rotate in the optimal position. I tend to have a format where I use a mixture of functional exercises that help in daily living, for example moves you will need to bend, lift, rotate, get to the floor, release stretches for the areas I know get tight as pregnancy progresses, core strengthening exercises and some move to help in labour and for baby positioning.

CAT

Lets look at some of the changes that happen in pregnancy:

1. Breathlessness:

There is around 15-20% increase in oxygen consumption during pregnancy. The breathing rate will stay the same, but an expecting mum will breathe more deeply each time. The changes in the blood vessels caused by the hormonal changes together with the changed position of the ribcage and diaphragm may make a mum-to-be feel breathless at times.

The breathing we use in Pilates helps make an expecting mum’s breathing more efficient. Focusing on breathing in an antenatal class also has a relaxing and calming effect which can then be used in labour.

2. Muscle, ligament, joint and postural adaptations: 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on muscles, ligaments and joints. There can be more movement, stretching and instability. A safe pregnancy pilates class will help you exercise within a safe range of movement and strengthen the supporting muscles. It can really help with conditions such as SPD/pelvic girdle pain.

3. Core Strength:

Pilates exercises focus on core stability, and pelvic stability. This obviously helps keep the abdominals strengthened  but it also can help keep your pelvis in good alignment and reduce pelvic girdle pain.

4.Posture:

Pregnancy affects posture as the centre of gravity shifts. Some women adopt a posterior pelvic tilt (tucked under) with a flat lower back, whilst others adopt an anterior tilt (bum stuck out) with an increased curve in the lower back. Either way it is not helpful for the body. Knowing about neutral posture will help you correct this in day to day life and pilates will provide you will a range of exercises to strengthen the right muscles.

So if you are pregnant, antenatal Pilates with a specialist teacher is a MUST. If you can’t get to a class or want something to use in between sessions check out my specialst Bump to Birth DVD.

Why we all need a Pilates class. 

Having had a baby just a few weeks ago my body is not what it used to be and I am in the rehabilitation phase. Moves I can usually do with ease I can currently not do with proper technique. Harder moves I know I shouldn’t even attempt until I am stronger. So instead of teaching them, I am attending some of our postnatal classes. It’s actually something I’ve never done before as we’ve never had a teacher who was able to cover those specialist classes for us.

It’s made me think about the benefits of  being in a class. When I’m fully fit I usually attend a teachers Pilates class. Why? Well to be a good teacher myself I still need to continue to be a student. I need to be challenged t

o work harder and do exercises I am unsure about. I need someone to watch me and correct my technique. I need to work my body in different ways. I need to learn how someone else teaches and pick up tips from them. I need to be inspired.

Yes you could do Pilates using a book, a DVD or an online video. Those can all work but personally I think the class is king. A DVD or online class is great if you know what you are doing. A book is good to read but I don’t see how you can properly do Pilates from a book!Pilates with Priya: Class in action
What you get out of a class:
1. A teacher who watches your body, corrects you, gets to know how your body works and what needs strengthening/stretching. Some of my clients have been with me for years and I can tell them exactly how their body will respond to a certain exercise or give them an adaptation before they even start.

2. Teaching points that are designed for you. I may not hands on correct you but may talk to you about the exercise to get you to think it through and use your body to respond. Self correction can be better than teacher correction. It builds that body awareness but with feedback from someone who has a different view. I can see if someone’s gluts are working hard when they shouldn’t be and coach them to switch them off at each repetition.

3. If you don’t get an exercise a teacher can explain it in a different way, give you an adapted version or physically move your body. Sometimes we all need a hand to adjust us.

4. A class is designed for you. I have a lesson plan but adapt it as I go along for each class. I may give different people in the class differing levels, give them equipment or a completely different exercise. It’s more personalised.

5. You can ask questions and get answers.  I still do this myself. It’s how I learn. Some people in my classes ask heaps of questions and want to know exactly how an exercise works. Others just want to get on and do it under a watchful eye. However you work that’s fine!

6. Any aches and pain can be taken into account. Our bodies differ week to week. A good teacher will ask his you are and adapt accordingly. I’ve had people unable to put weight on their knees, wrists or who have fallen over and broken a bone – but are still in class!

7. You are accountable to others and in community. Doing exercise with others makes its more fun and encourages you to attend more often and to keep going for longer. In our classes people make friends and really support each other. It’s a lovely
Vibe.

8. There are less distractions. With 3 children I have a lot that can distract me and stop me from doing exercise. Often it’s only after the children are in bed I have time to myself and by then exercise is not the first thing on my mind, the sofa can be more inviting!

A Man’s Pilates Journey and a Challenge for you.

It’s been a while since my last Blog.

I am still regularly attending classes, and loving it. 😉 The only week I have missed, was when I was in Spain for a family holiday…the commitment is paying off. I am starting to see the benefits.

I look forward to Wednesday evenings. It is a time where I can focus on my back, my posture, and relax from a busy day. It’s lovely to take part in a class myself and experience how the studio feels as a punter.
Firstly, as I mentioned in my last Blog, my Hamstrings are TIGHT. Jo reminds me of this, and it seems like the exercises are set to “…test James…” – or am I just paranoid? The sign of a good instructor – one who knows her classes well.

The Challenge:

I find that using the Bands are very useful, such a great tool for stretching.
I am going to set myself a challenge in the coming week – stretch each morning, to set me up for the day. Just a few minutes, but it will reduce my back pain, and loosen my muscles.
Will you join me in this challenge? Go on… you know it will make a difference. If you need a band then we have these available in the studio.

Hamstring Stretch
Band Hamstring Stretch

I banter with Jo, but ultimately, I know this is a part of me that I need to work on.
I probably drive more than I should do…definitely sit down more than I should (this is not a time for Priya to comment!), and sit on the wrong types of chairs, using my laptop for writing emails, social media updates, and suchlike…

So again – more walking to do the school-run, sitting square in the chairs, and generally being more active.
Today I was preparing some of the veg beds, so got some Vitamin D, some fresh air, and some exercise. Was only about 30 minutes, but it was 30mins more than the day before, so that is a bonus in my books. 😉

I have found that over the last few months, I have consciously thought about my posture more. And now I am training as a Massage Therapist, it is important I continue my focus on that.

I hear from others over the years, that the classes are ‘hard work’, and I can completely agree with that. What I knew before I started my Pilates Journey, was that the speed of repetition was not the key. It was the way the repetition was done. When I say that, I mean, 20 fast reps could be less beneficial that 10 slow reps. Core Strength is built in keeping the muscles engaged, and working.

I love the relaxation that class gives me and have been surprised by how much work Pilates actually is. That feeling the morning after when my muscles tell me Jo has worked them hard – it’s quite rewarding.

Have a great week, and remember, stretch those Hamstrings. 😉

PS – We sell Bands in the Studio – just ask James or Priya for one.

The story of a man taking up Pilates

We have run our home business for over 5 years now, and for several years, I have been badgered to take up Pilates regularly. This has come from both Priya and some of our lovely class members…I have always found reasons and excuses not to regularly take up a class.

But to be completely honest, I have needed it for years.
Before, I used to work, in a semi-active job and was on my feet regularly, and walking around campus.
Since 2010 I have predominantly been working from home, and helping bring up my two amazing children.
Lots of sitting, crawling, playing on the floor (and that’s just the children…)

About 3 months ago, I decided to stop procrastinating…

It’s tough. There you go. I admitted it…
I have chosen a class with Jo on a Wednesday evening.
I know where my core is, and in the past it has been in tip top shape, but over the years, I have become lazy, and taken short-cuts which has had negative effects on posture, core, and muscles.
I have found out (though I was not surprised) that I have tight hamstring muscles. Embarrassingly tight. My straight leg, is more 125 degrees than 180 degrees…

Though on the bright side of life, my best exercise (as quoted by Jo) is the Mermaid (or a theme of it)…
Yes, I said it, I am good at being a MERMAID!!!

My favourite exercise is…. I have not idea… I just do as I am told!

 

Pilates with Priya: James does Pilates
On a serious note, I love it. After a busy few days, I love my Wednesday evenings…
Time to wind down, chill out, and improve my Core…
If I could, I’d probably try to do it 2-3 times a week.
This has been on my doorstep for over 5 years, and I had previously only attended 3 classes. Ever.Why didn’t I start earlier….!?