Each course is designed with a specific theme in mind. This means that you will learn systematically rather than randomly. For example a course theme might be how to counteract the negative postural effects of sitting. In this case the emphasis of the exercises would be to strengthen and stretch specific parts of the body affected by poor sitting posture. Or the theme might be how to progress to higher levels of exercise (such as the one pictured above) by targeting different muscles. Many people enjoy and benefit from this systematic approach to Pilates which is made possible by engaging in courses rather than drop-ins.
What are mat classes?
Mat classes as the name suggests are classes conducted on a mat rather than on machinery. We regularly use light equipment such as toning bands and soft balls for enhanced resistance work. Apart from the lower cost of mat classes compared to reformer classes, one of the main benefits is that once you learn the exercises you can do them at home, perhaps to supplement your regular class or when you are away from home.
Classes or one-to-ones?
You have a choice as to whether you attend a class or on a one-to-one basis. Some people prefer to try a one-to-one early on to clarify some of the more subtle points about posture and in the case of back problems to assess whether they are ready to attend a class. Or perhaps to receive suggestions as to how to modify exercises to suit a pre-existing condition. And some people find their busy schedules makes this the most realistic way of taking regular Pilates exercise.
Pilates strengthens core muscles
You probably know that Pilates is regarded as a very effective method for strengthening the core muscles. Broadly speaking, these include the muscles that act as a corset right around the waist, those that interact with the spine and the all important muscles that support the pelvic girdle. When these muscles are working well your spine will be supported, you will possess good posture and your body will look healthy and toned.
Pilates tones the whole body
Every instructor has their individual style and way of teaching Pilates. Rather than just working the core muscles, we make sure that we also work the arms, legs and butt to strengthen and tone the whole body. Sometimes we will use equipment such as power circles, rollers and toning bands to enhance specific exercises.
Pilates encourages improved flexibility as well as muscle strength. You will be taught how to stretch safely and effectively. Flexibility is important at every age and will help to reduce pain associated with tense and tight muscles. Sometimes a pre-existing condition will require sensitivity and modification. This is easily accomplished in the context of the class situation. Exercises are demonstrated and variations offered to meet individual needs.
Pilates helps improve concentration
In a good Pilates class you will be working your mind as thoroughly as your body. You will learn to sense which muscles are working and how the different parts of your body are responding to your movements. You will be taught how to stay focused, thereby improving your concentration. You will also be encouraged to develop your body awareness in daily life with simple visualisations to help you maintain your best posture.
Experience a deep sense of wellbeing
By slowing your body movements, you will learn how to slow your breathing which will have a calming effect on your mind. Some classes include a period of guided relaxation. You can be confident that you will feel a real sense of wellbeing during and after the class. The cumulative effect of regular relaxation is shown to have a positive effect on health leading to a reduction in stress and an associated increase in the ability to handle difficult situations productively.