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Could Pilates be the key to a more serene lockdown? This wellness devotee thinks so…

I’ve practiced and taught Pilates for 8 years but never have I felt like I needed it more than in lockdown! Over the years I’ve used it to help get strong and remain injury free for sporting events, to help me through pregnancy and having a baby, but also just a form of exercise that is mindful that I can do anytime, anywhere. Lockdown has posed so many different challenges for all of us and for me Pilates has kept me fit and sane!

You know Pilates is a type of exercise, but what ACTUALLY is it?

It is a form of mind-body exercise with an emphasis on strength, control and flexibility. Focusing on the core muscles, particularly the deep abdominals.  Pilates strengthens your local (postural) muscle system giving you the foundations to then build on your global (power) muscle system. Improving back and pelvic stability, posture, balance and general sense of wellbeing.

Why look to Pilates in lockdown?

Mindfulness

I think it’s safe to say we all need some mindfulness in our lives right now. Pilates is very much a mind- body form of exercise, this does not mean you’ll be sitting meditating, but it focuses of breath and being mindful of movement. Just being aware of how your moving, your posture, being present at that movement is mindful and for me can be just a good as meditation.

Posture

So maybe we’ve had to get used to WFH, being online more, looking after the kids full time or home schooling. All of these will likely mean poor sustained postures sitting or in front of a computer which is not great for our posture, neck and back. Pilates focuses on posture of the spine and strengthening the muscles that help maintain it.

Pain

We’re maybe taking up forms of exercise we might not normally do (Joe Wicks PE, the free yoga and HIIT classes), or, are likely to be generally less active. This may mean you’ve started to suffer from some niggles; back pain from working at a make shift desk in our bedroom, knee pain from taking up running, neck pain from hours of Zoom calls and shoulder pain from doing a hell of a lot more press ups and chaturanga’s than you’ve never done before! As it focuses on core strength and pelvic stability doing Pilates alongside these types of exercise can be extremely complimentary and beneficial ensuring you body is strong and flexible enough to do what you’re asking of it.

Abs

So a lot of us want a strong core and this is only really possible if you’re working your core and abdominals in the correct way. Pilates helps your strength train the complex collection of muscles you have in your stomach, resulting in a more defined look and you feeling stronger.

Ante/ Post Natal

Finally to all you mums and mums to be, Pilates is a safe and great way to exercise in pregnancy and after having a baby. I’d recommend ante and post natal specific classes but maintaining and rebuilding the strength in your pelvic floor, deep abdominals and the muscles that stabilise your pelvis will help prevent pain, prepare for labour and improve your post natal recovery.

Everyone should give it a go

The great thing about lockdown is, that you can pop your Pilates cherry in the comfort of your own home. Try out a 1-2-1, or online group session – there are so many options out there, but I truly believe Pilates is for anyone of any fitness level so there’s no need to be afraid that you can’t do it!

By physio, Pilates innovator and Co-Founder of Four Sides London, Claire Mills @respectpilates

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