Monthly Archives: January 2015

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You’re doing great, now – keep it going

So, we’re just over three weeks into January, and the excesses of Christmas and the New Year are but a dim and distant memory as we plough head-long into 2015. Here at The Pilates Pod, January is always a very busy month, with lots of new people using the new year as inspiration to try something new and make changes to their lifestyle. We also always look forward to welcoming back our regular clients, many of whom take a well earned rest over the festive season.

When Michelle and I first came up with the idea of opening a studio, we spent quite a long time thinking about how it should feel to come to the Pod. Obviously, we wanted people to feel that they had enjoyed a thorough, and rewarding Pilates workout. But more than that, it was important to us that the experience of becoming a client of The Pilates Pod was an enjoyable and rewarding one in itself.

I’ve never been a ‘gym-bunny’ kind of person. I’ve been a member of a gym on a couple of occasions, gone hell-for-leather for a few weeks before missing a session then bit by bit losing motivation. Personally, I always found the gym to be a rather intimidating experience and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. So when we set about creating the Pod, we had it at the front of our minds that we wanted the Pod to be a warm, welcoming and fun place where people who maybe weren’t into the gym, would feel more at home and hopefully more motivated to establish a regular exercise routine.

So far this year, we’ve been delighted to see so many of our classes being so well attended. Just taking a look down the schedule, we’re regularly seeing 7 or 8 people in a class (8’s our maximum don’t forget!), and our Intro Courses in January have been filling up to. It’s a great sign that people are understanding the benefits that Pilates can bring to them, and we also take it as a compliment that we’re getting things right.

The Pilates Pod Matwork Class
A matwork class in full flow at the Pod

But we also know that keeping up with something new can be difficult. Life can get in the way, coughs and colds are only too common in January and February and sometimes by missing a session here or there, it’s easy to fall out of the habit. Apparently it takes 21 days to form a routine that sticks, so it’s really important to KEEP GOING. Because once you’ve formed a regular habit of coming to classes or 1:1s, you’ll really start to feel the benefit on and off of the mat. You’ll meet new, friendly people, learn some new techniques and start to feel like a stronger, leaner and taller version of yourself with every session.

Don’t let yourself get bored either – mix things up with a different class or time, maybe try a twin reformer class or an equipment class for a bit of variety – it’s the spice of life y’know.

Anyway. Well done you. You really are doing great – now, keep it going. And if you haven’t started yet, there’s no time like the present.

Cheers. Ed x

Ed Smith is the quiet director at The Pilates Pod
You can follow him on twitter @ed_p0d

Pilates and Back Pain: Why it works

My last blog was about putting up with back pain and why that’s not a good idea. On a much more positive note lets have a look at why Pilates is so great for managing back pain. It goes without saying that any pain should be diagnosed by a medical professional reducing the chances of aggravating rather than relieving your discomfort.

Did your mother ever tell you to stand up straight? She was onto something here. She probably also told you to eat your vegetables too but now we might pay a nutritionist to advise us on superfoods!

Mother knows best
Mother knows best

Poor, slumped and collapsed postures standing and especially sitting place a tremendous amount of strain on our tissues. If muscles are held in a shortened position for a prolonged period other muscles will have to work overtime in order to support the weight of the surrounding structures. The body’s energy efficient response to this is to lay down extra collagen into the overworked muscle to make it more like a ligament, allowing it to support the same weight without expending much energy through prolonged muscular contraction. So rather than having well balanced muscles around a joint we have shortened and weakened muscles on one side versus overly long muscles that have lost their ability to contract as muscles fibres are replaced by collagen.

Hence we end up with a poor balance of muscular control around many joints. The resulting lack of stability around our sensitive joints  can result in poorly controlled movements with painful muscular spasms as the body quickly tries to gain control.

Muscle imbalances from sitting
Muscle imbalances from sitting

Pilates teaches you to lengthen your body in every possible direction. Even some of the starting positions for many exercises are hard work! This continual striving to find more space in your body is decompressing the joints and distributing the load of either movement or static held positions. In the Pilates mat exercises its just you and gravity. On the equipment the springs act as gravity for you to push and lengthen out against. A reformer is literally trying to squash and compress you giving you some feedback to lengthen out against. Thats why the equipment has the funky looking straps and handles so your limbs can experience this as well as your spine. Once you get back on the mat again after using the equipment your body knows what to do, as you reach a leg away for Single Leg Stretch you keep reaching into a now imaginary strap.

Reformer
Get a little length

Pilates brings your smaller supporting muscles to the party. Too often these small stabilisers get edged out of our movement patterns by the bigger movement producing muscles. Ever had to drive a car without power steering when you are used to having it? Thats what your body is doing when the stabilising muscles are neglected. It takes so much more effort to move the damn thing around! Advanced Pilates practitioners make the harder exercises look easy and flowing. They are still working hard but no part of the body is working harder than it has to.

Quality of movement is really important in Pilates. Once you start to find and use your stabilising muscles movement becomes much smoother and more controlled. Many of our stabilising muscles fine tune out movements but are also rich in nerve endings that send information back to our central nervous system. Our movements are then better calibrated, and of course smoother movement is far less likely to cause pain. Not having this feedback is like trying to negotiate the world with fogged up glasses.

One of the greatest gifts Pilates gives people with back pain is the ability to take back some control of their situation. Back pain is frightening and frustrating in equal measures with many chronic long term sufferers becoming depressed when it limits their previous level of activity. It’s a real privilege to work with this population as they learn how movement is going to help rather than hinder them.

No back pain
No back pain