When you think of good movement, you may think of dancers or athletes. But we all have the potential, and innate ability to move well, it is what we are primarily designed to do. Paradoxically, we have designed a modern way of living that restricts movement very effectively - just think of the car to desk to car to sofa cycle that is typical of many people's days. Or we put our body through a series of repetitive and damaging movements, which over time cause muscle imbalance, misaligned joints, restricted movement and pain.
This is where Pilates comes in, as it gently and effectively restores the movement potential we were born with, and the beauty of it is that it is suitable for anyone – whatever age, fitness level, whatever movement you are doing (or not doing) now, and wherever you want to get to, Pilates will help.
So you've probably heard that Pilates is great for building core strength, and lengthened toned muscles, but what else?
It gives greater joint mobility and stability, helps increase bone density and its focus on balance is particularly important as we get older. It is recommended by physiotherapists and other medical practitioners to support conditioning or rehabilitation programmes, particularly for those with back problems.
It builds structural fitness and strength, addressing areas of tightness or pain by working on the body as a whole.
It is also ideal if you take part in other physical activity or sport, where often strain and injury can result if posture is poor. Pilates can help improve efficiency, technique and performance.
No other system is so gentle on your body whilst giving it a challenging workout. Initially, it may seem you aren't working that hard, or 'feeling it'. True, you won't be out of breath or have burning screaming muscles, but you will be working in a subtle, deep and precise way as you start the process of re-educating your body. It is not a "quick fix" but a long-term approach, building your awareness of your own movement patterns, until functional movement, strength and flexibility are restored.
It is also great for stress relief and relaxation – an hour focusing your mind on your body works wonders in calming you and leaves you feeling refreshed. Some clients say they have their best night's sleep after their class!
I really believe that confidence and joy come through having a body that moves well – efficiently, effortlessly, and pain free. A body that deals with what you put it through day after day. And Pilates makes that possible for me.