Tag Archives: pilates

A new year, new changes and a new you with The Pilates Pod

“One size does not fit all”  (Michelle, owner of The Pilates Pod)

Known originally as Contrology, Joe Pilates’ method is the art and study of control. 

Control over the mind, breath, centre (powerhouse) and the whole body to create balance and a uniformed body that is strong AND flexible all over.

We have LOTS of new exciting changes to the studio for 2018 so grab a cuppa and read on…

Pilates is a journey. Your own journey.  Joe never had “levels” in his sessions as every one works at their own level. You had your 1st five sessions as a new beginner to the studio, then you had a lifetime of individual work, journey and progress working around the studio on all the apparatus in an open studio with just Joe or Clara around to help assist and give you one more exercise to add to your routine when they felt you had earned it.

How we start here at The Pilates Pod

We don’t leave you quite as alone as Joe did. Start with the fundamentals of the studio system. In the fundamental system, you will start learning the Intro exercises, orders and transitions of Matwork and Reformer (the bread and butter of Pilates) as well as introducing you to the arm springs work, roll back bar and wall endings with hand weights.

We’ve got 2 Intro Packages for new clients  to do this. You can buy each package once. (if you are already an existing client, and you have never experienced a full studio session, you can also take advantage of each one of these packages, once.)

  • Semi Private Group (up to 4 people) 3 weeks Unlimited Studio sessions £60 (3 weeks from your 1st session) For healthy bodies, or those with general aches and weaknesses.
  • Individual Private Training:  3 x 1:1’s £120 (to use in 2 weeks from your 1st session) The recommended route for “all eyes on you”, or for anyone suffering with back disc issues, joint pain, neurological issues, or specific issues surrounding pelvic floor, c-section or abdominal separation.

Where to go after the basics?

Every BODY is different, every mind too! Some people pick things up quicker than others, some people’s body responds easier than others. It doesn’t matter! What matters is YOUR journey, your progress. It’s not a race. Pilates is about learning your orders and transitions for matwork and reformer,  as well as practicing the exercises themselves and getting it deep inside the body. If you are working through specific issues, you should stay with 1:1’s, otherwise We recommend that everyone as much as possible follows 2 -3 sessions a week, pre books them in to ensure consistency and includes:

  • Semi Private Pilates Studio Apparatus class.  With up to 4 people per session, these classes are the true Pilates experience. Using resistance from the springs and matwork combined as well as an opportunity to correct your individual needs using the whole system from barrels, spine correctors, pedi pole, toe corrector, foot corrector, magic circles on top of those exercises found in the fundamental levels. Plus it gives you a chance to be more independent than 1:1’s, for the best result.  If you have been doing 1:1’s for a while now and aren’t dealing with specific issues, maybe it’s time to switch to semi-private. If you have been doing Mat or Reformer independently, give these classes a go.
  • You can find even more of these classes for 2018: Mondays 2pm, alternate Mondays 6pm, Wednesdays 8pm,  Thursdays 10.30am & 7pm, Saturdays 12.15pm and Sundays 11am.
  • OR Private Training 1:1’s, Duets or Skype sessions.

PLUS a weekly one of these to fine tune one aspect of Pilates…

  • Matwork. Using no resistance except your own body weight, this can often feel the most challenging if the body is too tight in some areas, too weak in others, to support and perform the exercises with control, which is why the Reformer and small props helps give you this balanced body. Some small props may be used now as required. It’s really easy to learn and do at home between studio visits, but remember matwork is only 2% of the full Pilates system, so do use apparatus as often as you can!
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Mondays 9.30am, 7pm & 8pm, Tuesdays 8pm, Wednesdays 9.30am (Gentle Flow Mat) Wednesdays 7pm, Thursdays 8pm, Fridays 10.15am, Sundays 10am.
  • Barrels & Matwork. Using the small barrels and spine correctors, your body will restore its natural curves and alignment with the help and support that the curves of the barrel provide. Your Matwork & Reformer exercises will be enhanced, challenged and given support in order for you to learn and fine tune your Pilates. A perfect antidote class to modern life ill posture and tight hips/rounded shoulders.
  • You can find this class for 2018:  Fridays 12.15-1pm
  • Pilates with Small Props. A CHANGE to the old Pilates with Props circuit style class. This new class will be performed all together more like traditional matwork classes rather than a circuit, but every week will use many of the small props found in the studio, both contemporary and classical from fitballs, magic circles, poles, mini balls, rollers, hand weights, flexi-bands, toe correctors. Matwork with lots of small toys! No large apparatus will be used in this class like Reformer, Pedi Pole, Spine Correctors and barrels.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: NEW TIME Saturdays 10am, Sundays 10am.
  • Reformer Pilates. If Matwork is the butter, Reformer is the bread. These two systems that Joe created are the only ones with orders to them. Just as you would practice the finer deeper work of Matwork in a full 55 min class, this is the same but on Reformer.  The springs are what make the change to people’s bodies and create a lift in the spine; better, faster and more efficiently than matwork alone. Only 2 per class, you work at your own level and order.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Mondays 12.45pm, Tuesdays 6pm, Thursdays 9.30am & 6pm, Fridays 6pm.
  • Jumpboard Reformer Express. The jumpboard provides a soft platform in which you jump and bounce off whilst laying down. Add an express workout for your cardio levels and fat burning for those short on time, or in perfect addition to a regular class before or after. Not suitable for pregnancy or anyone with weak core, bad backs or new.
  • You can find these classes for 2018: Wednesdays 9am and Fridays 5.30pm.

Our door is open…..

By popular request, we’re opening our studio doors to you for 2018 at special times every week in which you can come in to practice by yourself. These “Open Studio” sessions give you an opportunity to come into the studio, work with the apparatus, matwork and small props. Whether you feel like stretching, working hard, geeking out on one particularly exercise or particular piece of apparatus, it’s all up to you. An instructor will be present but this is NOT a led session. A teacher will only be present for safety not for asking questions or advice. Please do be respectful to this and to other clients present in the room for their workouts to keep noise to a minimum. This is a time for yourself to workout,  a chance to come more often, workout with others, for your own practice, your way, with our studio, our equipment. We ask that you show up on time but feel free to leave quietly whenever you like within the 55 min slot. You are responsible for your own safety, modifications and for the equipment during these times. You must only use apparatus if you know how to use it and must sign a declaration form from Michelle before attending your first session. Min 5 sessions must have been attended on mat or on apparatus before you attend.

Open Studio Matwork £7.50 – Matwork only with small props. Up to 55 mins. 6 spaces .
Times available during 2018:
Mondays 2pm. Tuesdays 6pm. Wednesdays 8pm. Thursdays 9.30am, 6pm. Fridays 3.30pm, 6pm. Saturdays 9am. Sundays 12.00
Book here.

Open Studio Apparatus £15 – All the toys big and small in the studio inc Reformer, small barrel, spine corrector, foot corrector, toe corrector, pedi pole etc. Up to 55 mins. 2 spaces 
Times available during 2018:
Mondays 8pm. Tuesdays 8pm, Wednesday 7pm,  Saturdays 10am, Sundays 9am.  Book here.

To help you with your Open Studio workouts, we’ll be running Pilates Playground workshops every month. In these workshops, we’ll be taking a close look at a couple matwork exercises, and a couple of exercises performed on one piece of apparatus. We’ll geek them out, understand them, play with them, practice them, learn how to and how not to do perform them. You can then add them into your routine when you next come to the studio, or just use them as helpful tips and tricks. We strongly suggest you attend these as often as you can, or book a 1:1 instead if you cant make it. Fee £20 for each workshop, class credits cannot be used as payment.
The next Pilates Playground will be:
Saturday 6th January 9.15am-10.10am with Michelle.  It all starts from the feet!
A look at some of the feet on the bar work taken from the Reformer and the Foot Corrector. Essential places to start for everyone to connect their “feet to the seat” as well as particular useful for those with neurological issuess, limited foot mobility and strength.  Book here.
Sunday 4th February 12.00-12.55pm with Ellen.  Arm Springs. How the arms are rooted into the shoulder joint and how the shoulders are connected to the back body is so important. We’ll look at the arm spring series, some exercises on the Reformer and adding hand weights into our matwork. Book here

 

 

Give the gift even Mariah wants this Christmas (& bag free stuff for you!)

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need. I don’t care about the presents, underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own, more than you will ever know. Make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is you…..

A toned body
A life of  freedom from back and joint pain
Better mobility and flexibility
Improved posture
Overall health, wellbeing and stress relief
New friendships

Gift Voucher

You know, love and feel the fantastic benefits that our Pilates sessions have given to your mind and body. So this Christmas, why not pass on that lifelong joy to someone you love.  A Pilates Pod Gift Voucher. That’s so much better than pair of novelty socks, a few smellies or a bottle of plonk!

PLUS when you buy selected Intro Packages, bag yourself free class credits for you! The gift that really does keep on giving!

Buy 3 weeks Unlimited Studio Apparatus Classes £60- get yourself 1 free class credit
Buy 3 x 1:1’s for £120 – get yourself 3 class credits 

More ideas for you….

  • If they are pregnant or just become a new mum – why not buy a voucher for pregnancy classes (£75) or 5 week postnatal course (£60.) For abdominal separation, c-section healing and pelvic floor weakness help – buy a 1:1 private training lesson (£48.50)
  • If they are struggling with back, hip, knee or pelvic pain – buy some 1:1 lessons. Ranging from £48.50 for one, £120 for Intro package of 3* or 5 lessons for £235.
  • If they would like to tone up, get fitter and healthier, start moving, feel active, improve aches and stiffness. Buy the gift of an Intro Group 3 week Unlimited Studio Sessions (£60)
  • Need a stocking filler? Grab a single class voucher for £16 to try a classical mat shirtsclass.  Pilates Stott Pilates DVD’s for home workouts for just £5. Bag a “Pod Squad” t-shirt for a fitness fan  to workout in. Available in unisex flowy tank or standard Tee. £24
  • Money! You can’t go wrong with just putting a straight forward sum of Pilates cash onto their account as a present gift card. Any amount from £10 is an option.

 

Buy online, over the phone 01462 338002 or email us info@thepilatespod.co.uk and authorise us to purchase using your card.  You can pick up your voucher or we can send an e-voucher. Plus we’re open until 12.00 on Xmas Eve so plenty of time to grab some last minute ideas.

Christmas is a time for giving, it’s a time for family, friends, sharing joy and happiness, so spread a little happiness with a Pilates Pod Christmas Gift.

Christmas Unlimited

We all know the run up to Christmas is fun fun fun, but with Christmas parties and family gatherings to fit in, your Pilates routine (and your fitness levels!) can go a little off track.

So to help you find that balance and to avoid the inevitable hard slog trying to workout again after the festivities end, we’ve created our Christmas Unlimited Package.

Running from now until 7th January, come as often as you like for 2 weeks –  any time, any class – from Classical Matwork Pilates, to Barrels class, Semi Private Studio Fundamentals, Twin Reformer, to Xmas Eve specials. All classes whether 1 credit or 2, semi private or regular classes, all teachers…. that’s 2 weeks unlimited Pilates Pod over 7 days a week for just £100.

You’ll find our usual fabulous classes, as well as the Christmas Timetable (over the period of 24th December -7th January inc) which sees all sorts of little bonus sessions from extra Jumpboard Reformer Express workouts to raise the cardio levels and burn off some mince pies,  Matwork with Fitball fun, Semi Private Studio Apparatus to work the basics of the whole Pilates system inc Reformer, Matwork and small props combined, Barrels & Matwork, and of course the much loved Classical Matwork, and Pregnancy classes.

You can join the Christmas Unlimited Package anytime from now, but the last date you can come to classes under this deal is 7th January 2018.

Buy online, via our Mind Body app, over the phone 01462 338002 or email us info@thepilatespod.co.uk and authorise us to purchase using your card.

And just a quick request from us… please do cancel online if you are no longer coming, others may really want a space!

5 ways to become successful… in life and Pilates!

For many around the UK, today marks the first day back at school for the kids. <insert sighs of relief for parents everywhere!>

I bet you’ve already prepped their day and week with military order and discipline to ensure everything runs successfully, right?

  • New shoes and uniform bought, ironed and name tags on? Check.
  • Book bag and PE kit ready for PE Wednesday even though it’s Monday? Check.
  • Swimming lessons bought and booked for 12 week term. Check.
  • Arrangements made with school friends mums to pick up kids from football practice and we’ll take them all the next week? Check.
  • Lunches made. Check.

The importance of a good routine for children is vital to instill structure, consistency and development through repetition. But the same applies for the grown ups too and Pilates too.  Is it time you had a successful Pilates well-being routine? Let’s go back to school in 5 easy lessons.

  1. Provide structure and take ownership

Make your Pilates workouts part of your every day routine. Pilates isn’t just about the studio work, it’s about lessons learnt and transferred to your everyday life. Get a structured routine to your studio workouts 2-3 a week. Once every couple weeks just won’t do it! Do extra “homework” practice in-between with matwork routines that can take just anywhere between 10 -25 minutes, or just committing to a daily “Hundred” challenge, or simply being more aware of using your abs “in and up” when you bend over and lift things.

When you have structure, you take ownership and commitment to what you are doing. You have made things fit in, you aren’t wondering how you will find the time to fit things in. You are less likely to re-organise your workouts if they are already part of a structure and schedule.
One thing is for sure, you won’t get out of back pain, lose weight, feel fitter and make new friends by not creating a routine for your Pilates! You are the master of your own Pilates goals destiny. It’s time to take ownership of your self!

2. Repetition becomes habit

Habits can be good or bad but all habits are learned and can be un learned!
They used to say it took 21 days to make a habit (some say 30 days) but according to scientific study, it can take anywhere between 18 days to 254 days of daily repetition to form a new habit, it depends on the individual. But on average it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. Plus as an extra bonus, when you make Pilates part of your every day/every week life, the healthy habit encourages other healthy habits to kick in.  You’ll start moving better and with ease, so you’ll start walking more or going to that aerobics class. You’ll feel healthier, so you’ll start eating healthier. You’ll sweat and improve circulation, so you’ll want to drink more water.

In Classical Pilates, we focus on repetition. Pilates is mean to be about low number of repetitions per exercise, not millions for the sake of it and the burnout feeling. It’s to ensure you get through the material, and it gets into your brain and body.  Unlike other styles of Pilates, Classical follows the clear format and order for the exercises as laid out by Joe Pilates himself for his work. In doing this, you learn the order! it becomes a habit through repetition. You are free then later to concentrate your mind on getting better at the same exercise and working deeper. Classical teachers are trained to teach you in the same way, the same wording, the same format. In doing so, the message sinks in quicker, the habit is formed without the confusion of extra flowery language to distract the mind. How many times have you heard Michelle cue the Hundred for beginners in this way…. “Bend your knees into your chest, curl up your head, neck and shoulders to your shoulder blade tips, lift your arms out of the mat by your hips and above your abdominal wall, move your legs to tabletop, anchor the pelvis and shoulders, eyes on the abs, long fingers and neck. Pump your arms up and down vigorously as you breathe in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts, in 2,3,4,5, out 2,3,4,5.”  Once you know it, you just do it!

3. Successful people are more efficient

When you start out at anything, routines are things you just have to keep doing over and over again. Pilates is just the same. You will need will power, you need motivation to stick to the routine especially if you’ve had a bad day at work, or it’s raining and you’d rather sit on the sofa with Game of Thrones and a cuppa. Once a routine is a learned behaviour (through repetition), it becomes a habit. Once it’s a habit, it’s autonomous so you don’t actually have to think about it, will power and motivation isn’t needed to attend. You won’t have to keep reminding yourself to book in your Pilates class, it’s an essential part of your daily routine.  You don’t let it slip, it’s a good habit. You therefore save time and free up more brain space to concentrate on other tasks as wellbeing and self care is under check!

In Classical Pilates, the orders and important transitions that link the exercises together make your more efficient in your Pilates and a learnt habit of good efficiency for outside in your every day life. Transitions are key to the Classical Pilates style for you to move from one exercise to another in the most efficient way. Your body is warm from the exercise, we transition from one to another in such a way that you don’t rest, cool down and undo all your hard work. It’s stamina building. It makes you get through your material so eventually a demanding, sweaty and challenging advanced matwork session will be done in under 25 mins. Efficiency! Who has time to workout for hours at a time?!

 

4. Builds momentum little by little

There is a quote that goes “little by little, a little becomes a lot.”  That’s true with everything in life. Pilates is just the same. How can you be a master of the advanced work if you don’t go through the little steps of learning how to break it all right down to the basics and learn how to use your powerhouse correctly, every single time, every single exercise.  You wouldn’t just run a marathon, you would put in the months of training, step by step, mile by mile. A little Pilates every day means your body will have moved well hundreds of thousands of times over a year. No wonder you don’t need the weekly Osteopath fix anymore hey?!  One of our client’s Pete, committed himself to over 100 Pilates sessions in a year, and by doing it, he ended up losing 2 stone!  But you have to start. It won’t look pretty, you won’t be great at it to start with. but you will have started and that’s what gets you great at something.

5. Commitment saves you work in the long run
If you are constantly writing each and every day, you will become a better writer.  If you are constantly running mile after mile, you will be able to do a marathon. If you never thought you could learn languages but you kept listening to the tape everyday in the car, you would become better at Spanish. Pilates is the same. If you practice a little Pilates every day, you will be better at Pilates and your aches and pains/knee issues/weight loss/neurological issue will be better.  If you practice once a week, it may take a little longer, it you practice one every 2 weeks, it will take even longer. Down the line you save win in the long run just by dedicating a little time.

Written by Owner and Pilates teacher: Michelle Smith
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

 

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

 

I’m having a baby! What to expect in the 1st Trimester and exercises to help

Congratulations! You’re having a baby! 

Well, me too, so snap! This is my second child, my first is 5 years old and now I am 19 weeks pregnant with number 2, so I know what you’re going through.
baby on board
What’s the 1st Trimester of Pregnancy 
0-12 weeks of early pregnancy is known as the 1st trimester and a time to establish a routine. Every woman’s body is different and each pregnancy is individual. 
The focus for exercise in the 1st trimester establishing a good routine that will see you through your whole pregnancy, to help you stay active and strong in pregnancy, because let’s face it, it is hard work on your body and for a looooong time! But even more importantly, what you do now during pregnancy, sets up good preparation in your body to help you give birth naturally, with an ideal alignment of baby inside you and with to make the “job” a little bit easier. (she laughs at the word “easier”)
It’s also about pre working on returning to shape and recovery after baby is born, as the investment you make now in your body will help facilitate  this time later to be that little bit easier too.
Early pregnancy is not the time to work too hard. You may be feeling tired, sick, have some weight gain, an increase in the need to go to the loo, breasts become larger and more tender and hormones are all over the place. Avoid overheating in exercise, don’t worry about working out too hard, things may be a struggle for you at this time even though you don’t have a huge bump yet. It’s a time to realise what’s going on in your body is pretty major and amazing and listen to it.  In these early days, baby is doing it’s important forming so let’s give it some thought and chill out a little more on the vigorous stuff and start being mindful of the creation inside you, your changing body and respect the changes.  The 2nd trimester is the time where you can up your efforts so leave that for then.
Creating a good awareness focus on your pelvic floor muscles is key right now. They take a lot of strain over 9 months of pregnancy with the weight of a growing baby, as well as that extra effort during natural delivery. Learn what the pelvic floor muscles are, how to keep them both strong and flexible. We need the “bounce” in our muscles as well as the tightness so remember it’s not all about pulling up, up up down there!
Keep your movements controlled, slow and mindful, remembering to support the lax ligaments that occur in pregnancy from the hormone Relaxin by strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support around the joints.
Pregnancy is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool either! It’s a demanding effort on mum, and you need to be strong, active and healthy to cope with the demands. So although it may feel like a time to sit back, eat tubs of icecream and attend antenatal exercise classes where you only breath and then eat cake, come on ladies, invest in yourself! Strong and supple legs, back, core and pelvic floor are the order of the day so let’s keep active moving forward in our pregnancy… more on that later in our 2nd Trimester blog.
The stages of a baby
What exercises are good for the 1st Trimester?

Natural alignment of the pelvis– important for facilitating a correct birth position and so you know a benchmark of the “norm” when later it naturally starts tilting forward.

Extension of the thoracic spine– you want to work on extension of the (mid-upper) thoracic spine for later prevention of the inevitable roundness that occurs, to support the weight of the growing breasts, to maintain a good upper body alignment and to help with lower back support. This area becomes increasingly stiff as the lower back becomes more mobile.

Flexion of the lumbar spine and oblique strengthening– gain mobility of the lower lumbar spine to strengthen and stretch the back muscles. It’s important to learn how to activate, strengthen and stabilize with the deep abdominals known as the Transvere Abdominisius, along with the Obliques, which helps prevent the destablisation of the rectus abdominus which may cause abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti, and to help stablise the pelvis and aid with lower back ache.

Focus on pelvic floor toning and stretching– the pelvic floor muscles need toning and stretching to work naturally as a support system against the weight of a growing baby bearing down on them. This is important during pregnancy, to assist and guide baby out in delivery and to regain their control after, helping to avoid those little “leaks” that can be common. Pelvic floor muscles should be worked with breathing exercises and functional movement so it’s not about just squeezing your bits aka Kegel, but making them work during normal movements like a squat.

Breathing– breathing is great as a relaxation tool  and will not only help you engage your deep ab muscles and pelvic floor, but help you relieve stress and stretch tight mid back muscles. As baby gets bigger inside you, your organs get squashed, and the added hormones too, make breathing a little bit harder to do, so focusing on your breath is a great way to bring back some focus to this area.

Finally, it’s often nice to get out and meet other mums to be. Doing a specialist prenatal Pilates or yoga class during your pregnancy will get you to meet other like minded women, who can share support with how you are feeling and in our classes, the ladies make friends and often have babies around the same time so you’ve got an instant network of new mummy friends! Please note we only recommend continuing with Pilates in your 1st Trimester if you have been doing so before you became pregnant. Otherwise, wait for your 1st scan, check all is ok with the baby and with your pregnancy and join in from 12-13 weeks.

Oh, it’s ok to eat the occasional tub of icecream too! (mine’s the salted caramel one!)

Look out for part 2- The 2nd Trimester…….coming soon!

Written by Michelle Smith
Owner, The Pilates Pod and mum of 1 (and a bit!) kids!
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

Top tips for preventing back pain in the workplace

It’s reported that 3 out of 4 people have back pain in their lives and 85% of those are undiagoned, meaning there is no specific medical reason why.
SO WHY?!

chained to the desk

Do you ever feel like you’re chained to the office desk?

Considering how much of your day is spent at work, you’re probably right for thinking so! Plus it’s reported 4 out 5 British workers eat their lunch at the desk so we really are chaining ourselves to the desk!

The office environment presents all sorts of physical stresses on the body.   Monitors too low for your eye-line, chairs too high or too low, phones stuck between the ear and shoulder, RSI and shoulder strain from repetitive typing without correct support, wrong lighting causing eye strain…. shall we go on?!

But one of the biggest problems we face is sitting down all day, and lets face it, most of us leave work and go home to sit all evening on the sofa! This long period of inactivity causes the spine to:

  • Slouch and gradually compress against gravity
  • Adds strain to the lower back
  • Forces the mid back to overly round and tighten the chest and weaken the back support muscles
  • Pushes the head further further, adding to neck strain, headaches and increasing load added onto the spine.
  • Shortens and tightens hip flexors
  • Weakens the important abdominal core muscles
  • Reduces space for the vital organs

So what’s the solution?

I quit quit1

Ok, maybe not! But thankfully it is possible to make a few changes that will reduce the time and how you sit at your desk and improve your back pain.

  • Swop your chair for a stability ball. Posture is greatly increased by working your core stabilising and back muscles as you sit on a ball, as well as been shown to lead to better circulation, upper body mobility and less beck and joint pain.
  • Get a raised desk and do away with the chair at all! LinkedIn staff did this and saw a 50% reduction in back pain from not sitting down!
  • Ensure typing is done with wrist support resting on the desk. Awkward positions when typing can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Get a hands free set for your desk phone. No more holding the phone between your ear and shoulder which causes neck and shoulder pain. Plus hands free means you can stand up and walk around more so less time sitting down.
  • Get a grip!  We’re losing our grip power as most things we do is by finger touch. Building up grip strength by making and tightening a fist (without tightening your shoulder and neck) will exercise the forearm and the small muscles in the hands, reduce the effects of typing RSI  and carpal tunnel syndrome and give you great toned triceps too!
  • Wiggle at your desk. if sitting still is the enemy, then have a little wiggle. Circle your ankles, flex and point the toes for improved circulation- do the same in the wrists. Stretch your neck by tipping your ear to your shoulder, circle your shoulders, lift your chest up to the sky and lengthen your spine, circle your pelvis like a clock to move the lower back.
  • Counter balance the effects of desk working by doing some Pilates regularly. Move well every day with some forward bending, side bending, twisting and back bending/extension will go a long way to helping to reduce the effects of sitting down all day.
  • Make the tea! Getting the teas/coffees in for your team will not only get you out of the chair and moving your spine but it’ll also make you more popular too! We suggest you use the handy colour chart to get the right strength of your colleagues favourite brew… mine’s a Builders Brew!

what's your strength brew?

You may also be interested in the following related  blogs:

 

Written by: Michelle Smith
Director, The Pilates Pod
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying fit for bump, baby and beyond

bump
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Having a baby can be a difficult and demanding time, even before the little one comes along. Carrying a baby is physically (and emotionally) tough on your body.

Let’s first get a bit geeky and look at the anatomy of your body, bear with me ok?!
Your pelvis consists of 3 bones and 3 joints, one at the front and two at the back. The bones form a protective basin for your bladder, womb and bowel. The joints of the pelvis and spine are supported by ligaments and muscle.

So then you find out your pregnant, and those lovely hormones start kicking in. Regardless of the frequent trips to the loo and the bursts into tears, these hormone changes during pregnancy soften these ligaments and the joints become less stable. As your baby grows there is a change in your centre of gravity and posture. It’s these combined changes that can lead to low back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain.

What are our choices?
Well, of course it’s a bit too late to go back on the baby front but you can do things to help reduce  the strain and discomfort you may be experiencing.

Here’s my top tips:

  • Sit correctly, and when possible sit rather than stand when performing daily activities such as ironing
  •  Ensure your work surface is at the correct height
  • Use correct technique for lifting and avoid heavy loads
  • Find a comfortable sleeping position -try using a pillow between your knees and ensure you get in and out of bed keeping your knees together and rolling onto your side.
  • Gentle exercise during pregnancy is good for you and your developing baby. Work within your own limits. You must listen to your body and stop if you feel unwell.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

mum and baby

Fast forward 9 months and baby’s here- congratulations! The ante natal classes have stopped, the midwife has gone and you’re struggling with sleepless nights, working out what the baby cries mean and trying to work out how to drink a cup of coffee without it going cold. But what about your body? I’m not talking baby weight here but your insides, the bits you can’t see and probably after having baby, can’t feel either! You’ve just carried a baby for 9 months, then delivered it. It’s an amazing thing our bodies are designed to do isn’t it?!

Time to get anatomy geeky again….

pelvic floorWhat is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor are a sling of muscles that lie at the base of your pelvis between your pubic bone and coccyx and can be likened to the shape of a hammock. Strong pelvic floor muscles help you to control the bladder and bowel. The increasing weight of your baby during pregnancy, followed by delivery, may weaken your pelvic floor muscles. This may cause you to leak urine when you exert yourself, especially after delivery. We all know those stories of laughing or coughing, or running for the bus and feeling that little accident. It happens, but we can prevent it by exercising your pelvic floor every day, both during pregnancy and after baby is born.

What is the ‘core’?

The core consists of this pelvic floor, along with the diaphragm, transversus abdominis muscles and deep spinal muscles. They work together to form an ‘internal cylinder of support’ for your spine.

Exercises like Pilates can help you get re-acquainted with your core muscles again and get them working properly.

So you’ve had baby, now what?
In the early post natal period you need to be gentle and kind to yourself. Good habits here can serve you well. So remember to:
• Give yourself time to rest, recover and bond with your baby
• Take care moving in and out of bed, especially if you have had a caesarean section
• Sit well back in the chair for feeding. A pillow or folded towel behind your back will support you and may prevent backache. Supporting your arm on the armrest or on a pillow will prevent tension building up in the neck and shoulders from holding the baby for long periods of time. Alternatively a pillow on your lap will bring the baby up to the level of the breast for easier feeding
• When changing the baby it is easier for your back if the surface is at waist height, it will prevent bending and will be easier to lift the baby from this height.
• Avoid bending forward and straining the back when bathing the baby by kneeling by the side of the bath.
• You may experience leakage of urine if you cough or sneeze as a result of vaginal delivery weakening the pelvic floor muscles, this should resolve by your 6 week check up. If it continues you may need to seek professional help from a women’s health physiotherapist.
• Avoid constipation to prevent straining against your pelvic floor muscles and prevent piles or haemorrhoids worsening. Ensure you eat a varied diet and drink plenty of fluids.
• Start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you are able (see below for info)
• Low impact exercises such as walking are recommended.

How do we switch on the pelvic floor?
Breathing with the correct technique enables you to switch on your pelvic floor. It’s important to learn to breathe deep and wide to the bottom of your rib cage. This allows your diaphragm to work correctly and therefore your pelvic floor.

  • As you breathe out gently lift the area between your pubic bone and coccyx, the hammock. As you do this you should feel a small amount of tension in your lower abdomen as discussed above.
  • Although you may feel a gentle tensioning around your back passage, you must not tighten your buttock muscles.
  • Try and ‘close your openings’ first then imagine an escalator lifting from your bottom to your belly button.
  • Similarly, you must let your upper tummy muscles completely relax, do not pull in your upper abdomen.
  • Hold for 5 seconds then relax and let go. Repeat several times

As you get stronger you should build up the hold time up to ten seconds, and repeat ten times, several times a day

Returning to Exercise
The first 5 months following the birth of your baby is considered the ‘post natal period’.
• During this time it is best to refrain from any high impact exercise. This is to give your body and pelvic floor time to recover from child birth.
• If you are breast feeding you should take extra care in returning to any high impact exercise as the hormones produced during pregnancy may still be circulating in your system.
• There are always exceptions to the rules and if you’ve been running throughout your pregnancy and your pelvic floor is in extremely good condition then you may be able to return sooner.
• Never exercise at a level that your pelvic floor cannot cope with. If you start leaking when you are doing activities then stop immediately. This may not just be high impact activities but may also be lifting or abdominal exercises.
• All exercise should be done with a good posture as this enhances the pelvic floor contraction.

Look out for Rectus Diastasis
Diastasis
Rectus Diastasis is the separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles due to excessive pressure during pregnancy. There are 4 layers to the abdominals and these are the most superficial. There are also Transversus Abdominis, Internal and External Obliques. When the tummy stretches, so does the connective tissue between the Rectus Abdominis muscles- this is normal. The muscles should recover and the gap lessen within the first 6 weeks post natally however some women do take longer to recover. Exercises that will help your diastasis to recover are ‘core stability’ exercises for your Transversus Abdominis that you do in the post natal Pilates classes.

Exercises that should be avoided are crunches, sit-ups, twists combined with crunches or anything that ‘jack-knifes’ the body, by pivoting at the hip & placing strain on the abdominals such as straight leg lifts.

Having a baby is a special time, but it’s also very demanding.  Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well as looking after baby, whether your little ‘un is still in the bump, just arrived as baby or the months beyond.

Enjoy your mummy time!

Bally Lidder

Chartered Physiotherapist and Acupuncture Practitioner

Lidder Therapies

07951 490214,
bally@liddertherapies.co.uk
www.liddertherapies.co.uk

lidder therapies