Excuse my pun, but I could not resist. The irony is that I don’t even care about the Pirates of the Caribbean saga. But let it not deter us from the real subject here: how to improve your well-being with Pilates.
When I first started my blogging journey, I shared my musings on Yoga, an activity that I took up for almost two years until I stopped going to the classes, because of a schedule conflict. Add to that my inability to stick to a routine at home and fast-forward to now, I can say that I’ve lost all benefits of it. I can only blame myself though. I may have lost temporarily the Yoga force, but I’m not giving up on my self-care journey. That is the positive step.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m slowly working on getting back into shape. Since I’m not feeling well enough to do more cardio and aerobic classes (I walk a lot instead), I decided to give Pilates a go. Taking advantage of their free first class offer, I went to try Pilates on the reformer.
After the class, I signed up for the rest of the semester and I’ve been doing it since then. It is quite an investment though. The reformer classes are in small committee (max. 5 people for each class) and subsequently, it’s more expensive than Pilates on the mat or a regular gym class. However, I have already noticed some amazing benefits and I’m more than happy to make some concessions and save money for it.
Despite my firm belief that age is just a number, being in my twenties has taught me that taking care of yourself early will save you some troubles for later. Not to mention that I do start to see my limits. At 18, you can still function with little sleep or survive an all-nighter, but a decade later, not so much anymore.
What is Pilates like?
The reformer looks like a medieval torture machine but it has been cleverly designed. The advantage of the reformer is that the machine provides additional support to help you achieve the movements and stretch as much as you can, without hurting yourself. The goal of Pilates is to stabilize and strengthen your core, which is what I desperately need. It improves your posture and flexibility and for someone like me who tends to hunch the shoulders and walk like a Gru from Despicable Me, this can only be beneficial. Pilates involves precise moves, with a focus on abdomen, pelvis strength and breathing technique. Each time, I feel my stomach burn (come through abs, come through haha) and the stretch in my arms and legs. The intensity level is medium and low-impact which makes it appropriate for all age and levels. In my class, I’m often surrounded by badass senior ladies. One of them told me that Pilates had done wonders for her shoulder pain. Trust me, when you see a fab lady in her 70’s doing the movements better than you, you know that you could be in a better shape 😉
What I love about Pilates exercises is the fact that is not a race, the slower and the more focused you do each move, the more efficient it is. It has nothing to do with the number of movements, but all about the quality of the execution. During the hour-long class, you do exercises that target all area of the body: arms, legs, butt, back. Nothing is neglected. I do need to specify that Pilates does not count as cardio, it is not aerobic and as a result, you don’t walk out of the class looking all hot and sweaty, which is an amazing bonus if you head straight to work afterward. If you’re looking to lose weight and heart-pumping exercises, then pilates is not the right activity.
It is meant to make you flexible and stronger – that is precisely what I am looking for. I used to go for lean and slim, and even in that period, I still felt tired and insecure. I now want to feel strong, which has little to nothing to do with the number on the scale. I’ve felt weak for a very long time (both mentally and physically) and I want to reverse the tendency. I have issues keeping my back straight as I lack any ab strength. My arms are flabby. After 10 lessons, I’m starting to see an improvement in my posture. I feel less tension in the neck and back area and I have noticed an increased energy level. My respiratory rate has lowered and feels more normal whereas I always used to feel out of breath and in apnea. During the first class, I could barely do half of the exercises, now I can almost do all of them (far from a perfect execution, but I am able to try them all). I see and feel the progress and that’s a step in the right direction for me.
You don’t need shoes, you can either go barefoot or keep your socks on (I’m in the second category #sockitup). Since it is not a high-intensity class, I can workout with a sweater or a long-sleeve t-shirt to stay warm. My favorite workout pieces are from Asquith. (reviewed here). Asquith has created clothes that make me want to work out, which is already a miracle in itself. 😉 I since then purchased two more pants from them, including a second ‘Live fast pants‘ which are outstanding. They are so comfortable and made with the softest materials. The conquer cami is another staple, a workout cami with a medium support built-in bra. Asquith uses bamboo and organic cotton and the breathability and resistance of their garments is unparalleled.
Have you tried Pilates? What do you do to feel stronger?
Disclaimer: This site does not represent professional medical care. Please seek medical advice for any concerns regarding your personal health and info regarding physical exercise.