Could this be you on holiday this year? Yes it can and all it takes is the weekly commitment of coming to Pilates classes or some private Pilates studio sessions to create a Summer Body.
HOW CAN PILATES WORK FOR ME?
Going to Pilates classes regularly gives you a lean, strong body that is resistant to injury, as well as great posture, increased flexibility and a streamlined, beautiful physique.
PILATES TAKES TIME AND ENERGY
However, Pilates is not a quick fix and if you are going on holiday this summer this is the time to book your first Pilates class with me or try a One to One private Pilates session in my private studio. Here you will learn the b:asic Principles of Pilates and how they are applied to the Pilates exercises, correct posture and body alignment, how to breath correctly, improve your posture, balance and your overall flexibility.
WHAT JO SAYS:
Joseph Pilates created his famous exercises which he called 'Contrology' because he believed the body is controlled, centred and aligned by doing the exercises in a particular order in a precise manner. Pilates said that to stay mentally and physically strong was exercise daily which he did by doing his 34 exercises daily, until his death at 85 in 1967.
This famous quote by Pilates forms the basis of the Pilates Method:
"Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit"
Pilates is a whole mental and physical workout and everyone of the Pilates exercises were designed to work the small and larger muscles in the body to create alignment and balance of the skeleton, ligaments, muscles and tendons. It is also the concentration of the mind, coupled with correct breathing technique that creates that special buzz that is Pilates.
Pilates is not just about great posture and a rock-hard core, which anyone who doesn't do Pilates will say because they've never tried it. Pilates is more than just physical exercise, it can radically enhance mental, emotional and spiritual well-being too.
IT TAKES TIME:
As I said, Pilates is not a quick fix and takes time, effort, consistency and practice before you can create that smooth flowing movement that looks so easy and fluid. Pilates done perfectly takes a lot of concentration, control and precision with technique being the watchword. Once the exercises have been learnt and which muscles they are trying to work, the results are amazing.
Another famous quote from Jo Pilates:
"In ten lessons you feel the difference
In Twenty lessons you see the difference
In thirty lessons you will have a whole new body"
REGULAR PILATES CLASSES AND PRIVATE SESSIONS
We all start off with a perfect body but time, age, sport, occupation, pregnancy, illness and injury all take their toll on our bodies and, as Joseph Pilates has said, it can take weeks or months before you start feeling and looking fab, fit and fantastic.
Regular Pilates classes and private sessions are the way to go if you want to look good for your holiday, that special weekend with your family, that Wedding you've been invited or if you feel that your body needs a makeover.
In our daily life when we tend to stay in a regular pattern of walking, sitting at desk, standing, bending down, standing up and getting in and out of a car which are all mostly in the same plane of motion - forwards and backwards and side to side. However, our bodies are designed to rotate, flex and extend through several planes and if we don't exercise using all of the planes, we become stiff, inflexible and prone to injury.
PILATES PLANES OF MOTION
Joseph Pilates studies many forms of exercises as well as watching animals in the wild when he designed his exercises to move through three planes of motion. Here they are:
Moving forwards and backwards - (walking, running) - Sagittal Plane
Moving from side to side - Coronal/Lateral Plane (Most contact sports)
Rotational movement - Transverse Plane (Golf)
The human body evolved to flex, extend, rotate and bend from side to side. Historically, our bodies were designed to twist and turn to pick fruit off trees, to run away from or fight predators, squatting to build a fire or forage for food. Today we sit in cars, at desks, on sofas in front of the TV or in front of computers so it's not surprising that our bodies become inflexible, overweight and prone to injuries.
PILATES EXERCISES IN CLASS
When I teach a class I make sure that the seven or eight exercises use each plane of movement so that the body is exercised in all directions to maintain correct alignment. This means the that smaller muscles are worked to prevent the larger muscles taking over and the joints are worked in the correct range of motion
Of course, the exercises can be adapted to match people's abilities, goals, ages and injuries. Pilates exercises can be adapted by 'layering' exercises up or down to suit the class but the body must exercise through all three planes to maintain balance.
If you cannot get to a class and only have a few months before your holiday, then do these exercises in the order that I have set out and I am sure you will start seeing some changes after a couple of months.
So here goes:
THE SEVEN DAY PILATES WORKOUT FOR AN AMAZING BEACH BODY:
Seven exercises all designed to work every part of your body through all three planes of movement which can be done every day until your holiday or special event:
DAY 1 - TOE TAPS:
Lie on your back with legs flat, arms to the side of the body and shoulders down towards the mat. Take one hand and slide it under your back so that you can feel a small gap between the floor and the curve of your spine. This is neutral spine and should be maintained.
Next, take one leg and bend it at the knee and then bring the other one to meet it, making sure your knees are hip distance apart, keeping your knees over your hips. You should start to feel the muscles just below your navel start to switch on, these are your transverse abdominus that gives you the flat stomach by creating a muscular corset. Visualise your feet, ankles and legs are over a coffee table,with edge under your knees.
Inhale and take your right leg down for eight counts and gentle tap the mat and then bring your toe up for eight counts to meet the other leg. Remember to exhale as you bring the foot back to the knee. Then repeat with the other leg, making sure that your bent knee is still over the imaginary coffee table and that your knees are hip width apart.
This exercise and the 'the 100' are great exercises for building core and back strength.
Repeat on each leg eight times.
DAY 2 - SHOULDER BRIDGE
Still lying on the floor/mat with legs hip distance apart, knees bent and flat flat on the floor, close the bottom, still maintaining neutral spine. Arms to the side of the body.
Inhale whilst lifting the pelvis slowly off the mat, curling upwards, tilting the pelvis towards the ribs and then pause at the top of the move until you feel a stretch at the front of the hips. Then exhale as you roll back down into neutral spine, tilting the pelvis downwards onto the mat.
The idea is that you create 'bridge' from the knees to the shoulders and remember it is your bottom is the last to go up and the last to go down.
Make sure your hips are level going into the Bridge by visualising a spirit level across your hips, avoid pressing your arms into the floor as you go up and keep the chin off the chest.
Put a ball or a cushion between your knees and squeeze as you go up as this gives a little 'oomph' to your bottom muscles.
This exercise is great of spinal mobility and core strength.
This exercise goes forwards and backwards (Sagittal Plane)
DAY 3 - SPINE TWIST.
Start by sitting on the mat with your legs extended. Try to find the bones in your bottom and push them into mat as you keep your spine in neutral by using your core muscles.
Then fold your arms in front of you like a Cossack, still keeping your shoulders down away from your ears. Inhale as you rotate to one side and exhale as you come back to the front. Inhale as you rotate to the other side and exhale back. Try to go as far as you can whilst maintaining correct posture by not slumping or lifting your arms, try to keep your hips facing the front of the body, legs still and keep your head in line with your shoulders.
Visualise that you are a jar of jam and you are twisting the lid off and that your hips are set in concrete and gradually increase the range of motion.
Repeat eight twists on each side.
Great exercise for working the mid back and the external postural muscles in the core.
This is a rotational exercise (Transverse plane).
DAY 4 - THE SAW
Still sitting on the mat with legs in front and arms to the side of the body, next take your legs wide and reach forward with both hands to touch your toes. If you cannot reach your toes, bring your legs in until you can.
Take your arms away from your body until they are level with your shoulders next, inhale take your left arm and turn towards the right side of your body, aiming for the outside of your little toe, bring your hand down the side of your foot whilst rotating your middle. Bring your arm back up again and exhale to the front and repeat on the other side.
Try to keep your shoulders down as you rotate towards the foot and try to rotate from the waist not the upper body.
Great exercise for the working the lower back and internal postural muscles of the core.
DAY 5 - ONE LEG CIRCLE
Lying your back withe legs flat on on the mat/floor and arms to the side of the body. Bend your knees as if over a coffee table and begin circling one knee inwardly towards the body, inhaling as you do so. Keep one hand on the knee to guide it. Inhale and circle the knee away from the body and repeat on the other leg.
You can increase the range of motion or straighten the leg, whilst keeping a straight leg on the floor and rotating the hip by circling the toe towards the ceiling.
Visualise stirring a cup of tea with the toe on the ceiling.
Keep spine in neutral and maintain control of the hips so they don't move around with the knee and leg.
Great exercise to increase hip mobility and strength.
This is a rotational, forwards and backwards and side to side exercise and so covers all planes of movement.
DAY 6 - SIDE KICK
Lie on the side of the floor/mat with your body in a straight line, following the line of the mat. Stack your hips and shoulder, stretch arm out and lay you head on your arm. Take the other and slide it under your waist and pull your core until you can feel a slight gap then return the back to the front of the body as support.
Inhale and left your top leg in line with your hip and hold for a few seconds and drop leg back as you exhale. Next inhale and lift both legs off the floor, in line with the hip and exhale as you return the legs to the mat.
Try to keep your hips stable by bringing in your core muscles and maintaining the alignment with the mat.