Monthly Archives: June 2016

Completing a Pilates Hundred Challenge

Ever wondered how it feels to complete your “Pilates Hundred Challenge” with us? Pilates Pod client Pete Summerbee explains how it helped him on his journey to fitness:

“Well as my 100th Pilates class of the year has passed, I wanted to reflect on the year I hit 43 and the approach I took to fitness.

I wanted to get fitter in 2015 and started the year with Dry January as well as a target to reach 100 Pilates classes by the end of December. My other target was to lose a stone but that seemed a pipedream, more of that later.

The alcohol bit was really easy, a lot of tonic water, and ever since then my relationship with alcohol has really changed. I still enjoy it but rarely have it – once a week maybe.

Not a lot happened for the first month weightwise and then I tweaked my diet – porridge, honey and chia seeds for brekkie and homemade veg soup for lunch, cut out the sugar and a lot of junk. (Still have junk food Friday nights though!) With this combined with the Pilates the weight dropped off and I toned up too. I am also a bad carb freak and won’t touch lots of foodstuffs but I now love brown rice and pasta.

The Pilates classes got easier, even though I don’t know left from right and have no co-ordination some days. The classes and people are great fun and I have never been fitter, lighter or healthier plus I have muscles where I never knew I had muscles. I put it down to a combination of watching food, sugar and drink intake (not dieting), a lot of walking (my tip is get a dog),the Pilates and the great team at the Pod. There is always laughter in the classes, however that might just be my classes!

The other day for some weird reason a group of us (outside of class) had to show whether we could sit down and stand up without using our hands, I was the only one who could. It is easy for me now.

What else has happened? Well I have done a Pilates display in public (which was great fun but scary. There was so much noise going on that none of us could hear our instructor Ellen and it is hard to watch what someone is doing when you are doing a cat stretch and trying to figure out the next exercise) and I’ve also taken part in a photoshoot for the Pod. There should definitely be an out-take section on the website, that’s for sure.

Overall I am loving Pilates and feeling really fit. Going to try to fit in more yoga as well as cycling in 2016.

Oh yeah and about that weight loss – 2 stone 7lbs at the last count!

So how is 2016 going? Well I hit the big 44 and by the time you read this post I’ll be on my 56th class of the year, working towards my second Hundred Challenge, what a great idea where did that come from?! I’ve completed another Dry January and I am healthier than I have ever been and I put this down to the Pilates. I now do a range of different classes and levels as well as really getting into my yoga. I’ve found having less alcohol is easy and I’d advise you to go for quality over quantity once or twice a week

I’m still enjoying the Pod, the journey, I’ve even been to my first baby shower and guessed the size of the bump. I’ve never felt healthier, loving life and 99.99% sure that will be training to be a Pilates teacher in September.”

Thanks Pete for sharing your experience.

Run Forrest Run- top tips for runners

We’ll be leading the warmups for the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon on the 26th June, so we thought we’d share our top tips for runners and how Pilates can help you:

When you’re a runner, whether it’s a short jog or a full on marathon, there are 3 things a runner is looking to do:

  • Run faster and for longer
  • Avoid injury
  • Run more efficiently

The good news is that running is no doubt a great cardiovascular exercise to keep you fit and healthy but the bad news is that it often leads to muscle imbalances, which not addressed can scupper your chances for those three things you strive to achieve.

Body asymmetries  develop because of poor body mechanics which in turn cause certain muscles to become overused (a common trait in runners), while others become underused.  This unfortunately can result in all sorts of issues for you the runner from lower back pain, IT Band issues, knee and hip problems.

Whilst we can’t change the fact that running does use these muscles over and over again, we can look at ways to help address the imbalances so we’re less likely to get the injuries, finish the race and shave off valuable minutes from our time.

In Pilates, we love our bums (and yours!) and whilst we strive to helping you achieve the balance between weak glutes and over tight hip flexors, in running there is an important reason why!

One of the most common issues we see a lot in all sorts of people but commonly in runners is the internally rotating knee/thigh. This is where the knee falls into the midline rather than tracking straight forward. Finding and then strengthening the glutes effectively allows us to stabilise the pelvis and stop the constant battle of your knee being pushed and pulled inwards and outwards.

Love your glutes
Some great exercises to target all those glutes are:

  • Shoulder bridge
  • Swimming – 4 point kneeling
  • Side Clam
  • Side leg lifts

Lengthen the tight hip flexors

Tight hip flexors are a very common ailment that runners suffering from. This along with a weak “core” often leads to a forward and downward tilt on the pelvis, again resulting in more loading to the knees and excessively arching the lower back

Some great exercises to target the tip flexors

  • Dynamic Lunges- ensure good activation of the glutes
  • Swan dive- opens the whole chest and lengthens the front of the body, abdominal wall and hip flexors whilst strengthening the glutes

Get stronger from inside out

It’s no good just hoping to target your tight spots with some static holding stretches that only temporarily release the problem, only to find after your next run it springs back. It all comes back to the muscle imbalance and poor body mechanics thing we mentioned earlier. The spine plays a huge part in ensuring the pelvis stays in an optimal position and limits the stress and load placed on other areas.

Luckily Pilates is all about this strength from within. It’s not a list of individual exercises and stretches but more a method of full body moves that will condition the whole body from head to toe with a full awarenesss and use of your inner stabilising postural muscles (known as the core) to work the limbs.

In short this kind of exercise programme will target everything at once, a perfect system of exercises created with flow and precision to ensure good alignment, form, breathing, strength and stability whilst allowing your body to naturally correct the war between your tight muscles and weak muscles.

Recently a lady came to us to start Pilates with hip and knee pain that was preventing her continuing her running, so much so she was having to give up her training and pull out of the Paris marathon. In just 4 weeks of regular Pilates, she felt so much better she decided to keep her place and within 8 weeks she completed the run pain free with over 1/2 hour shaved off her time.

And what runner doesn’t want that kind of result?! Book onto our our Intro to Pilates courses or find out about our individualised 1:1 personal training and see the benefits for yourself.

Happy running!

Written by Michelle Smith,

Director The Pilates Pod

www.thepilatespod.co.uk