What I enjoy about Pilates?
By Teresa Harman
I first became aware of Pilates back in early 2000 when I qualified as an ETM (Exercise to Music) Instructor and attended a Pilates class near my then home in Essex. Yolanda, the instructor was an exceptional teacher and I fell in love with Pilates from then on. She inspired me so much that I wanted to be just like her and be able to bring such a wonderful class to more people. I sought out Modern Pilates with Cherry Baker and signed up for an intensive 8 week training course which meant learning more anatomy and physiology and taking further written exams. I was relieved I passed back in 2002 and have been undertaking further courses and teaching it ever since.
I have many reasons why I enjoy not only teaching Pilates but also participating in the class. Firstly it is a way to relax my body and to stretch my muscles. Doing sport such as triathlon often I am feeling very tight in lots of areas in my body and without Pilates my body would never get any relief or relaxation apart from sleep. Commencing with a warm up that includes some gentle movement to mobilise the spine and joints helps to increase range of movement and flexibility without causing excessive stress on those joints. I can concentrate on calming our mind by actively slowing the natural breathing pattern and really think about being in the here and now. Through Pilates we learn to focus on being in the moment without any other responsibilities for a full hour. It allows us to give time to ourselves without distractions from outside influences and become calmer and more peaceful. The gentle exercises are only performed maybe 6-8 times so there is never any overloading of the muscles or high repetitions of any one exercise. The aim is to try to work the deeper postural muscles on the inside without too much attention to the muscles on the outside. All the exercises are performed slowly and with precision to allow for good technique and a better understanding of the benefits of doing them.
Being in a class environment allows you to work with others without being too visible. An added bonus is that the majority of the exercises are performed from the floor so it supports your body and gives you added confidence. Pilates gives you the opportunity to work within your own boundaries or can challenge you further should you choose to do so. It’s never the same and is always changing so I never get bored teaching it.
I think I enjoy it most because I feel so much better for doing it. It’s the little things like just getting out of bed easily or functioning day to day with less stiffness or aches and pains. I like how it makes me feel stretched out, taller and very peaceful. Without Pilates in my life I don’t think I would still be participating in triathlon or functioning as well as I do day to day and at almost 53 I have every intention of wanting to improve and to continue to set myself challenges.
Of course I can only speak for myself but over the last 13 years of me teaching classes many clients swear by it also and would not be doing what they are doing without it. It helps by giving you the tools to deal with stresses in your life as it brings a sense of calmness and wellbeing to you. It allows you to explore your strengths and weaknesses and a greater sense of achieving your goals. For me it’s an hour of quietness from our busy schedules and brings me inner peace to a rather over active, worrying mind. The music used is light and calming and washes over you like a warm summer breeze so thereby helping you to find somewhere you can rest with your thoughts without the disturbances of every day responsibilities.
I believe everyone should try Pilates if only for an hour a week, they would feel the benefits in no time.