The power of Pilates

Lumbar pain, apathy, nervousness, a body lacking muscle tone we decided to erase them all from our resume. The solution, as found by GLAMOUR publisher, Mirela Ujica, is at hand even for the less sporty of us.
I’m sure you know those pictures with reporters who run with the recorder in their hand after a subject of their future article! Fortunately, in my editor job, the things are a little bit different and involve, among other things, at least three cups of coffee, a stack of magazines to look through, a bunch of flowers, always a chocolate on the desk and even a drawer full of cosmetics to try. Unfortunately, it also means more than eight hours of sitting in front of the computer. Unhappy with my physical shape, I decided to ask Ana Dumitrescu’s help, an instructor and co-owner of Movement Studio (movementstudio.ro), to convince me once and for all to respect a workout routine. The sport “prescribed” by Ana? Pilates! “To begin with, two sessions per week are enough, and within a few weeks, as the body adapts to the new rhythm of life, you will get to three sessions a week. It’s important to keep this constant frequency “, Ana counseled me.

Pilates during pregnancy?
Are you a future mom who wants to remain active during pregnancy? Well, Pilates is a very good choice! The only condition: before starting the training, you need to ask your doctor and coach for advice. “Each pregnancy is different, so the exercise program is adapted for each future mother,” says Ana Dumitrescu, which also lists some basic principles to guide you:
No exercises are recommended during the first trimester. From the second trimester, all muscle groups should be trained, with a focus on the back, the pelvic belt and the calves, that are the areas most strained in this period.
• The degree of difficulty is low, and as pregnancy progresses, exercise intensity diminishes.
• Avoid lying on the back.
In the third trimester, drawing in the abdominals during expiration is not allowed anymore. From now on, the abdomen has to relax every time you exhale.

Is there a perfect outfit?
What is the key word when you go shopping for sport equipment? Comfort! “If you think of training with a personal instructor, I recommend wearing a pair of leggings and a top or a t-shirt not too big, so that the muscles can be better noticed. For the Pilates classes do not use sneakers. Use socks or even barefoot”. To work effectively at home, you need a mat, elastic bands, a ball, a circle.
For sedentary: remedy against back pain
Lumbar pain is my main problem, so Ana has set the three types of exercises that you will find on the next paragraph, which I can practice at home at the beginning of a long day. Of course, if your time allows, it is advisable to work with a specialist instructor: you will thus benefit from hisher attention. Are you more efficient in your own living room? Our coach recommends “at least a meeting with an instructor to give you some tips and rules to follow. The correctness, precision and concentration with which the exercises are performed are very important. ”

Three recommended exercises:
“These exercises not only relieve back pain, but also improve posture and improve muscle asymmetries,” says our instructor.
EXERCISE 1
Initial position: lying on the stomach, with legs straight, buttocks tight, hands under the forehead and elbows in line with the ears. Inhale here and on expiration raise the trunk from the floor as high as you can. Very important: do not tilt your head to the back so as not to overload the cervical area. Exercise recommended to people with cifosis.
EXERCISE 2
Initial position: lying on the stomach, stretched legs, buttocks tight, hands under the forehead and elbows in line with the ears. Inhale here and on the expiration move the trunk to one side, parallel with the floor, keeping the rest of the body still. With inspiration, come back to the initial position and on the next expiration rotate the trunk on the opposite side. Exercise recommended for patients with scoliosis.
EXERCISE 3
Initial position: sitting on a chair, feet on the floor, legs shoulders width apart, back straight, hands on the back of the neck, elbows in line with the ears. Inspire here and when you exhale, twists the body to one side. On inspiration, return to the initial position and on the next exhale twist the body to the opposite side. During twisting, keep the back as straight as possible and the pelvis still.

The future of Pilates

We asked our coach to tell us about the new types of Pilates and about the international trends in this type of movement. Here’s what I found out: “Pilates is evolving every day, due to the instructors who always bring something new to their programs and also, due to the devices used. The experience of each instructor puts hisher mark on the Pilates style taught. Thus, some instructors come from the world of dance, others from different sports fields, kinetotherapy or physiotherapy. “In conclusion, there are three main types of Pilates, all based on Contrology, the system developed by Joseph Pilates:
Classical Pilates is the one that continues the Joseph Pilates system, developed in its original form. Here, you include True Pilates and Power Pilates.

Contemporary Pilates is distinguished from the classical Pilates by the use of modern equipment, many accessories and a new movement repertoire that complement Joseph’s studies. Of the most important styles, I enumerate: Stott Pilates, Winsor Pilates, Fletcher Pilates, Basi Pilates.

Pilates practiced by physiotherapists and kineto therapists for rehabilitation purposes.
Short dictionary: 4 deciphered trends
YOGILATES: combines Pilates with Yoga. It is quite popular in Romania, so you will surely find it in the program of your gym as well.

PRIMAL PILATES: Based on Pilates primary movements. It will help you tone your muscles as well as step into your relaxing ritual.

 REGGAELATES: Pilates movements on reggae and reggaeton music. It’s perfect for those who want an intense workout.

 AEROPILATES: The device used has an elastic platform for jumping. We guarantee: it’s an experience you need to check!


Pilates system, the practice of controlled movements

This practice is not new, but it is more current than ever. An ideal training method for those with back pain or poor posture, Pilates turns out to be the fastest solution for tonus, mobility, mental balance and physical shape. Let’s investigate the subject!

The first Pilates studio was opened on 8th Avenue and was actually called Contrology, as the method was originally named by founder Joseph Pilates. Since the early 1960s, Joseph Pilates, along with his wife Clara, the co-owner of the studio, have been hosts of many celebrities, the training system becoming a success. Martha Graham, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, George Balanchine, and many others went there, training under Joe’s observation and guidance. Countless dancers and ballet dancers practiced Pilates’ technique. He used to train the young ballet dancers of New York City Ballet. Pilates has always had a connection with the world of dance, the ballet dancers being the ones who carried on teaching Pilates’ technique after his death. Ron Fletcher, a dancer in Martha Graham’s troupe, brought the technique on the West Coast, introducing it to many actors. The dancers Carola Trier and Romana Kryzanowska(ex-dancer and Joe Pilates’s pupil), brought the technique and its benefits in Europe. This technique has evolved over the years, and today it is practiced by more than 20 million people.

This system of mind and body exercises can be practiced by anyone who wants to strengthen and tone their body without overloading muscle, encouraging the use of mind to control the muscles. It is a good system to relieve the back pain and to correct the posture, ideal for counteracting sedentary, which affects us more and more. Pilates increases muscle tone, but also bone density and the ability of the immune system to protect us. Harmonizes muscular asymmetries and carves the silhouette. If you’re looking at a Pilates instructor, you would like to have started … yesterday!

Besides that, the well-being and the fast body reactions following the exercises, give you hope and desire to go to Pilates. You stretch and tone your muscles, you feel younger and more energetic. Ana Dumitrescu, instructor and co-owner of Movement Studio, tells us that “the training system improves circulation, flexibility, coordination, reduces stress, brings mental balance and, very important, corrects breathing. The technique can be practiced  by pregnant women to teach them to breathe properly and to prepare their body for birth, as well as by new moms for a faster recovery after giving birth”. Pilates sessions take place under the supervision of a specialized instructor, the training being tailored to the physical needs of each practitioner. It does not matter if you are a beginner or well trained. Pilates, by the nature of its exercises (the technique is considered to be the form of motion closest to the human nature), can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

Breathing. The basis of the Pilates system is the breathing, the mind-body binder and the one that is connected to any movement we make. “All exercises are created in the rhythm and dynamics of breathing and heartbeat, which you learn from the first hour of Pilates, as it is its starting point,” says Raluca Vornicel, co-owner of Movement Studio and Pilates instructor. Thus, the body is oxygenated optimally, the blood circulation is improved, and muscle tension is eliminated.

Center. “The core” and “the powerhouse“terms are part of the Pilates alphabet and represent the starting point of all Pilates movements, namely the center of the body: the pelvic muscles, the abdomen, the scapular belt, the back muscles and the diaphragm. Strengthening a stable center is an essential feature, as the energy of the body and all the movements of this form of training flow from it. That’s why the abdomen of those who practice Pilates is flat and very well-outlined – one more reason to appeal to this technique!

Control. It is a basic principle of Pilates technique. The name that Joseph Pilates originally gave to this method was Contrology. Nothing is happening by accident, control of the movements being in very close relation with concentration, precision and center. Having control in Pilates means being aware of what you are doing and keeping your position and correct posture during an exercise. In the Pilates book, Return to Life Through Contrology, Joseph says that each session “has to be more like a workout, not as a relaxing therapy.” The results will surely show up, but with a little bit of effort. The good part is that from the very first Pilates class, you will feel that what you do is useful to your body and mind. As you progress, the difficulty of the training increases and it is constantly adapted by the instructor to your abilities. Anyone can practice these exercises either on the mat, with different accessories, or on the Reformer – an advanced and versatile Pilates device.

Concentration. The mind determines the actions of the body by working together. In Pilates, the goal is to do the exercises correctly, with care and concentration.

If your mind wanders away, it’s best to quit the session and get back when you can concentrate on what you’re doing. That’s what the theory says. Based on my own experience, I would say that it’s hard to think of anything else, because the nature of the exercises implies your 100% presence.

Precision. Pilates requires accuracy and quality, not quantity. “Precision is the result of combining concentration, control, center and keeping a constant frequency in training,” says Raluca Vornicel.

 

Rhythm. The session is done by following the inner rhythm of each practitioner. The fluidity of our own body helps us to make smooth, harmonious and functional movements that combined with deep breathing, reduce body tension.

Relaxation. There must  be always a balance between effort and relaxation, the latter installing after few Pilates classes, when you pass by the emotions of the unknown and start to feel comfortable. Plus, just by stretching movements (tension-relieving movements), you feel better and have a clearer mind!

If at its beginnings it was practiced only on the mattress and with the help of few specific Pilates tools (roller, ladder barrel, spine corrector, circles, etc.), now, “Reformer” appliances are also used. I recommend that when you subscribe to a Pilates studio, make sure they have Reformers, because you will surely want to use it. The device can work the whole body (advanced) or segmental (beginners) and, thanks to the springs it is equipped with, an exercise provides both stretching (elongating the muscle fiber) and tonus (strengthening the muscles), unlike the same exercise done on the mattress that is either toning or stretching your muscles. As a matter of fact, if you just do Pilates and nothing else, it’s good to do it three times a week, and if you practice other forms of exercise, it would be ideal to have six or eight sessions per month. Of course, if you have time, you can practice Pilates daily, like yoga, but it does not seem realistic to me, to be honest. Pilates is a safe technique (it is also used as a recovery method after an accident) and has results in all aspects – physical, spiritual and mental. As Joseph Pilates even said, “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 sessions you will have a different body.” And it is true! Beyond the effects on the silhouette, Pilates loads you with positive energy, stretches you, corrects posture and relaxes your body and your mind. If you have not tried it before, now it’s the time!

 

SOURCE OF THE ARTICLE: ELLE / April 2015