Tag Archives: fitness

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.

Do your ironing to lose your mummy tummy

When I was around 20 years old, a man came up to me in a nightclub and asked me how I got such a flat belly, his wife didn’t have one anymore!

At the time I was rather proudly sporting a flat tummy and slight six pack, neatly presented in a figure hugging hot pink dress that would have shown all lumps and bumps. Of course, disregarding the obvious retort  of “you shouldn’t be so cheeky about your wife, you’re not looking so hot yourself you know!” I promptly replied about my gym loving, ab crunching lifestyle.

Course what I now realise is the secret to my flat tummy was youth!
Despite binge drinking, take away loving and late night partying, I could still rock up to the gym and do a few gym ball exercises and a spot on the treadmill and my metabolism would forgive me.

Fast forward another decade and I had my son.  I think I put on about 2.5 stone (though never actually been a fan of the scales so didn’t really weigh this properly) I expect the sudden love for mars bars didn’t help the weight gain but I kind of expected my pre child days to spring my body back.

I’d been doing Pilates by then for about 8 years and it was a life saver when it came to back pain through my pregnancy and got me delivering Dylan with some impressive pelvic floor pushing.  8 weeks after I had him I thought it was time to get serious about getting into shape again so the food plans started, the exercise was upped and the workout at home with baby Pilates happened. I was really excited at the thought of my flat belly returning.

mummytummy
One day when getting dressed, I noticed a line on my tummy that hadn’t been there before. Shock horror it was my “mummy tummy.” The leftovers from the sagging skin, dropping belly that once so hugely held my son inside. This now rather depressing sight drooped over my lower belly like some sad reminder of my old days passed!

Now I know some of you will be thinking that these lines, stretch marks and flabby bits are a love reminders of the wonder that is pregnancy and the memento of your child arriving into this world. But me, I just wanted my old flat belly back! I love my child, but going from luscious locks, perky boobs, healthy skin and a flat toned body, into a sad sack tummy, spotty flaky sallow skin, empty booby sacks and hair that refused to grow except in random  places  making me look like a devil. This was not good.

It took about a year before I started feeling like me again properly. The boobs changed so many times I couldn’t keep up with repeat bra changes, the stretch marks faded (annoyingly I forgot to use Bio Oil on my boobs so this was the only place i got them) the hair grew back, my skin perked up but my tummy has never quite been the same.

A more desperate woman  would have gone crazy with the ab crunches in a quest to squash the mummy tummy, and probably would have choked on her tea reading this when I say it was a year before I started feeling myself again. I know these celeb mags are always proudly pointing out the ladies back into the bikini after 3 weeks from giving birth, but it’s unrealistic for most of us.

iron your tummy

My secret weapon to feeling me again in the tummy department are the pelvic floor muscles. When you activate your pelvic floor, you co-connect with your deep abdominals called your transversus, or what I like to call your “super iron”. This is a wrapping muscle that goes around from front to back, giving you pelvic and lower back stability but the really great news for us mummy tummy phobics, it’s wraps and flattens your tum! Doing proper Pilates exercises with mindful awareness to this pelvic floor/transversus connection makes a podgy saggy mummy tummy, lift and flatten away like the best flattest, crinkle free ironing service.

No matter how hard you try to “crunch” away your belly, you will only make it worse and possible lead to abdominal separation if you do that too soon without building a good foundation inside.

Have I got the perfect belly? No not by a long shot. Since having a child, it’s never ever been the same. BUT I am never going to be wearing a crop top in public again, I prefer tankinis over bikinis and the only people who see me naked are me, my husband and my child. So I’ve learnt to live with that accept it. But after trying a pair of ‘hold me in belly’ Spanx and finding that I can hold my mummy tummy better myself AND more comfortably without feeling like my insides have been choked.

I am now ditching the Spanx for more “ironing!”

P.S- Guys if you’re reading this over her shoulder, the same secret goes to you. get “ironing” if you want to improve your beer belly!

man belly

 

Written by Michelle Smith
Director, The Pilates Pod. Mummy to Dylan age 4yrs old.
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man, the legend and his creation

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”

Do you buy that? Smart words you might think?  These are the words of Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method. Except back in  the 1900’s when he devised this fantastic system of movements, it was called “Contrology” (only later becoming Pilates after his death)

So let me just get this right… Pilates was created by a man?
How many men do you know these days who do Pilates or even less, how many teach it? Yet the system was originally created by a man and taught to hundreds of men. And not just “a” man, Joe was a man’s man!  A cigar smoking, beer loving, womanizing, man!

Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) always claimed that he was far ahead of his time with his system of exercises and he was right. In the early 1920’s he started his first studio in New York City, but today Pilates is known internationally as a key staple exercise and movement programme. Not a fad that came and went, not a wishy washy airy fairy exercise, not something that didn’t make you break a sweat, but a system of carefully controlled (hence the name Contrology) flowing movements designed to return you to life. It’s no wonder then that his (second) book in 1945 was named just this “Return to Life through Contrology”  (his first book was “Your Health”)
These days the Pilates method is taught and practiced by millions of smart cookies all over the world, who’ve cottoned on to the fact that this Pilates thing will make your back feel strong, your whole body feel toned, your vitality and energy increase, make you stand taller, walk and move easier….. basically it will make you feel fan dabby tastic!

Joe based his concepts for Pilates on having a balanced mind, body and spirit and took some of his inspiration from the early Greeks. He studied scientifically and experimentally into what upset the balance of these things.  Sleep, posture, stress, technology all played a part in his research.  You might not even know that much of Pilates work was outside of the actual exercise system we now know and love but that he also had his views on how we should sit on a chair, sleep in our bed, and built furniture to help us get this balance.
He believed in correct breathing being the basis of it all, as it is in life. Adding in body movement and mechanics, spinal flexibility and physical education.

Quite simply Pilates is a method of exercise designed to bring about balance in your body through strength and flexibility. If the body is restored to balance, it can move effortlessly without strain.  Most of the time, we are completely unaware of these stresses and strains being added to the body, causing us to be out of balance. Until it’s too late and the injury sets in to the point of letting us know about it. An ache or niggle here, later leading perhaps to more pains and a trip to the osteopath or doc.

Sure, doing Pilates will, as Joe wanted, return you to life and restore your imbalances once you have them. But imagine if you will a life where doing Pilates meant you didn’t get the imbalances in the first place?! That’s what’s it’s all about. It’s functional, basic movement. Strength training, flexibility training, body balancing.

You can (and should!) use it to help your sport improve, to get you out of back pain, to prepare your body for motherhood, to deal with the physical demands on a young developing body, or to managing the issues we face as we get older. It’s perfect for everyone; male and female alike.

In Pilates we refer to a “two way stretch” That’s one of the really cool things about it, you are always focusing. As one part of your body strengthens, the other side is stretching. Imagine in a gym, you’d have to use two machines for that. In Pilates, just the one exercise will do both! As your body becomes stronger, it also becomes longer = flexibility and strength! Winner!

We focus on the inner workings of the body, what some refer to as the “powerhouse” or “core.”
The deeper muscles of the body can’t be seen but can still be felt, and it’s these smaller postural muscles that help us with proper alignment whilst we go through our everyday movements. An imbalance in these muscles means we can’t work as efficiently, we are more likely to injure.  Time off work, time off the sports pitch, time off picking up the grandchildren for a cuddle. Do you want that?

But it doesn’t stop there! Pilates is a full body exercise. You use your brain to move your body so it’s great for the grey matter! You simply don’t have head space to think of the shopping when you’re doing Pilates, so a natural stress reliever.  We also use the limbs; our arms and legs, so you’ll be getting them stronger too.

In fact, Pilates as a class may help you in the studio, but just think of the all the benefits it gives your whole life outside the class room! For a full Pilates experience, you should also be using the equipment such as the “Reformer” to really condition the body, but it’s so easy to start with just you and a mat, anywhere, anytime.

And what’s not to like about that?! Just be sure your teacher knows a bit about what they are talking about!

For more information on Pilates, check out www.thepilatespod.co.uk