I’ve been loving Pilates for years and practising Pilates has helped me to understand that Pilates can achieve many beneficial outcomes. Of course, there’s the desired physical outcome of long, lean and toned muscles, a strong core and increased flexibility. Also, the emotional benefits of a healthy mind and clear head are outcomes that also flow from your Pilates practise.
In my life as a Pilates teacher, I have discovered a few things that will be good for you to hold onto as you practise Pilates.
- Be kind to yourself
Don’t try to compare yourself with others. Understand where your body is at today, and move in a way that celebrates what your body can do. I find this release of frustration and judgement actually changes the way your body responds to exercises. When you accept that you are on a journey of health and improvement, you become more content with how things are now, because you know you are moving forward. – Even if it’s little by little.
I few years ago, I was so annoyed with how tight my hamstrings were. I tried all sorts of stretches, and pushed hard in the stretches to achieve what I thought would be perfect flexibility. My Pilates teacher at the time gave me great advice, and said not to worry about it and not to let it stress me. She also said that if I relaxed about it, the length would come. And she was right. When I stopped worrying about it, and just started enjoying my Pilates time, my hamstrings did stretch! Finding joy in the flow and movements was key to my improvement. Now, I still need to stretch my hamstrings regularly, but it’s no longer a block for me, and I’m happy with how my body feels.
2. You can do it!
Believe in yourself. When I see my client’s strength improving, I can see that they have the strength or ability to do more than they think. I often hear myself saying ‘ Trust me’.
This morning in a class, a lovely lady was practicing some exercises she knew well. When I demonstrated the next level to her, she was so apprehensive. ‘ I don’t know I can do that’. But giving her confidence, lead her to to be able to move beautifully and at a stronger level. She was so pleased with herself, and made a really valuable comment. She said that after an injury, or a long time of not moving, you become stuck and limit yourself. That’s where an instructor is needed, as they can give you the confidence and techniques to progress safely and with success.
- Stick with it
Committing to a plan is when you’ll see changes in your body. I’ve just finished a block of 10 sessions with some new clients. Wow! They come to the end of that first block of classes and now, they have the basics of the exercises. They can move through more exercises in a shorter time, they are finding strength – not just on the mat but in everyday life. It’s exciting when their goals are being reached. Toning up and feeling better than ever. Signing up for a series of classes, gives your body a chance to reach the goals you want. Give yourself a block of time, because lasting changes do take time. After that initial commitment, you’ll feel so great you’ll never want to stop!
4. Slow Down
Don’t rush your Pilates time. I see so many people rush into my studio from work or from dropping the kids to school and start powering through their exercises. Take a minute to breathe. Become present in your body, notice how your body feels, then of course move with precision and increased tempo.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes those slow careful moves are the hardest and require so much control and strength. Moving slower doesn’t mean less work.
I enjoyed my Pilates time so much, I became a Pilates instructor. Now, I encourage and inspire others to live happy, healthy lives too. Your Pilates time is going to help you feel capable, confident and positive in your life. Becoming aware of how your body feels means you are more likely to nurture it with healthy, clean food, and fill your mind with uplifting and positive thoughts.