Intermediate to Advanced Pilates Thursday
Location: Wentworth Primary School
Address: Viking Rd, Maldon CM9 6JN, UK
Instructor: Joani St Cliere
INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED PILATES
Join us for this Physiotherapy led class which looks to build on your existing experience of this amazing technique. This is a challenging class designed for people with a good foundational level of experience in the practice of Pilates and is not suitable for the beginner.
Pilates Technique is a form of exercise originally designed by Joseph Pilates about 90 years ago. Joseph Pilates took inspiration from a variety of methods of keeping fit including Yoga, Self-Defence, Weight Training and even Acrobatics! His belief was that if you could strengthen The Core (stomach, back and pelvic floor) as a unit, you would benefit in a number of ways, including toned stomach, healthy back and good posture.
You may arrive at a session feeling stressed and holding undue tension your body. We all do this. By recognising where your body tenses up, you can learn to relax your muscles and let go of any tension before you start each exercise. By relaxing in this way, you’ll be able to sustain correct positioning and perform movements more effectively.
Pilates teaches you to be mindful of your body and its movements. During class, you will learn to be constantly - and consciously - aware of yourself'. A failure to concentrate could result in loss of alignment or 'cheating' (by using the wrong muscles) but when you get it right the movement will flow.
Regular Pilates practise promotes good posture by helping to realign the body and spine. We aim to restore natural, neutral alignment and great attention is paid to correct posture. During movement, we’ll pay particular attention to our spine, pelvis, and shoulder girdle so that our trunk muscles are strengthened to their optimum length and position. By correctly aligning the body in this way, joints will sit happily in their natural, neutral position and remain healthy and stress free.
Core stability (through the creation of a 'girdle of strength') is one of the main aims of Pilates so abdominal training is guaranteed with every exercise. We are aiming for an internal ‘mattress-button’ effect; a drawing-back of the lower abdominals to support the spine and achieve a strong centre from which movements can take place. At the same time, the muscles of the pelvic floor are engaged through a drawing-up motion (as if preventing the flow of urine). The proper initiation of these deep, internal muscles of the abdomen stabilises the lower spine and pelvis. We’ll reinforce these complementary movements with every exercise so that it becomes a habit that you’ll even apply during your day-to-day life.
It is very common to breathe too shallowly from the upper chest or to throw out the lower abdominals. Similarly, the deep abdominal breathing practiced in yoga is wonderful for relaxation but not applicable to Pilates as it is inhibited by our focused use of the core abdominal muscles. It is impossible to keep a strong Pilates centre and to practise deep abdominal breathing simultaneously. In Pilates, we teach lateral or ‘thoracic’ breathing to maximise expansion of the rib cage and lower lungs. During class, you’ll be encouraged to breathe into your back and sides, whilst maintaining core stability. You’ll find that this is a very efficient way of breathing which also promotes flexibility in the upper body. In Pilates we breathe into our movements and relax into stretches, ensuring that we avoid storing tension by holding our breath.
Starting with simple movements before progressing on to more challenging sequences, you’ll learn to coordinate your breathing and centring efforts with your movements, ensuring that the core is stabilised and correctly aligned. With time, coordination skills become finely tuned as your mind and body work together to perform more advanced exercises.
All Pilates movements are controlled, graceful and flowing, lengthening outwards from a strong centre. This method greatly reduces the risk of injury. Muscles are worked, with control, through their full range of movement using concentric, eccentric, and isometric exercises. The result is long, lean muscles which have greater strength through their entire range. In Pilates, control is paramount, and movement is slow. You will soon discover that it is harder - and more beneficial - to perform an exercise in this way.
Pilates is not classed as an aerobic workout, so we do recommend complementing your Pilates with some aerobic exercise. That said, some advanced sequences are very challenging and provide excellent cardio. You should notice an increase in stamina and, in particular, in the postural muscles which will have greatly improved endurance as a result of the stabilising work, we do in class.