Category Archives: Pilates for health

Spring into a new body……with Pilates

Well the spring is officially upon us, though I am quite sure the bad weather  is not done with us yet!  Looking out at all the blossom and having seen such a fantastic display of daffodils this year maybe I am wrong.  However with the spring comes the urge to purge…….bad habits, weight, clutter and lazy muscles!!  Well,  good news, Pilates can help with some of those.

Spring is an ideal opportunity to find a new fitness regime and what better way than to ease into it with a one-to-one session Pilates session in the comfort of your own home.  I can come a long at a convenient time and discuss what you think your problems are regarding exercise and your body.  I can run through  all your questions and fears and we can check out your strengths and weakness’s so we can get you moving in the right direction and strart re-aligning and re-shaping your muscles.

Spring time gives me a determination to get as fit as possible for those lighter evenings and the promise of some sunshine. The unburdening of all those winter jumpers  is like shedding your winter coat and becoming “leaner”.  Pilates helps with toning the muscles to become leaner and stronger, ready for the summer months when I can spend more time out doors………yes, even when the good old British weather doesn’t play fair.

Spring also is an invitation to start eating more healthily again.  I always struggle in the winter months because I feel I need to eat more to keep warm……a myth I’m sure, but my excuse and I’m sticking to it!!  I have my juicer out again and have really cut out a lot of sugar from my diet.  A difficult one for me as a real sugar-holic!!  I am also trying to increase my water intake and decrease the coffee, tea and …….gingerbeer!  I knew it was sugary but whoa, not that much!  Tying to add fresh ginger to my juicing and lemon to my water, great for internal cleansing and digestion.  And soon it will be salad season, and I can resist the pasta/potatoe urge for some greenery.  Love it!

So, hoping Spring is an incentive to you all too.  To get fit, ditch the sugar, and join a Pilates class!Downward facing Dog with Jackie Brealey

 

Welcome to Mr Pilates

The Pilates method practised by so many of us now in so many towns, counties and throughout the world all origionated because of one determined and special man, Joseph Pilates.  Mr Pilates himself was in fact German and born in 1880,  into a woking class famly in Dusseldorf.  There is little known about his family and childhood except for the fact he was a sickly child and reprted to have suffered from rickets, ashma and reumatic fever but by the age of 14 he managed to re-build his body enough to pose for anatomical drawings.

Joseph used the influence of a new awareness of health and exercise of the time to explore the physical effects of strength and gymnastic training on the body and mind.  He devised through his own transformation his method of mind/body training.  He came to England in his 30’s and worked as a circus performer and a boxer amongst other things, one of those being a fitness teacher to detectives in the Police force.

When war broke out he was interned but continued to expand his knowledge and fitness methods, practising on other internees.  And during this time he designed the “reformer’.  A machine to be used as a help to strenghten muscles with the use of pulleys and springs, helping work with assistance or resistance and  this machine is very much a part of the pilates studio world now and a brilliant aid to body fitness and alignment.

Mr Pilates was convinced there was a connection between poor posture, sedantry lifestyles and ill health, and studied many forms of exercise and fitness such as yoga, bodybuilding and even acrobatics to use as a whole body exercise experience.  The need to engage mind and body and use flowing movements and slower fewer repetitions can help you contol your body.    Used correctly and regularly it helps to re-align, reshape and repair bad posture, weak muscles restore a balanced and stronger body.

The most common phrase I hear when new clients either come to watch classes or when they watch me teaching them basic exercises in assessments is “oh you made that look so easy………..and it’s not is it!!”  No it’s not, I have been doing Pilates for 20 years and teaching for 10 and I still find certain things challenging.  Yes, injuries can make things difficult but with the right kind or re-conditioning at class or in a one to one session you can start to help make the changes you need in your body to get back to your best “you” physically.  No, it will not happen over night and you will have to work hard for it but with the right kind of direction from your Pilates instructor and a willingness to see it through then anything is possible.  Mr Pilates proved that in his own body and in all his students.  Photographs of his students before and after his teaching really do show incredible results in body alignmnent and muscle definition and strength.

Mr Pilates was certainly an inspitation to me and all my fellow instructors, and now to my clients too.  An inspiration to want to do better, to re-align, reshape and repair my body, and to keep going because even when I have made one target I know there will always be more challenges so i can set new targets.

Sadly Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967 from smoke inhalation whilst trying to save some of his studion equipment in a fire.  He was 87 and in great physical shape and I see no reason to believe he would not have gone on many many years more.  I have clients in the 70’s and 80’s who are amazing and have really increased their movement and strength as a result of their Pilates.  It is an exercise regime for all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels.  Joseph Pilates was a true inspiration.  Come and join me at a class or have a one to one and be inspired too.

high spine curl with arms extended and single leg extension

Pilates for runners

 

Pilates for runners

Why runners should do Pilates
We’ve got the lowdown on all things Pilates and why it’s so good for runners.

by Georgia Scarr

“What is Pilates?

Pilates is often compared to yoga, but they actually have very different backgrounds. While yoga is a centuries-old practice with close links to spirituality, Pilates is a mind and body conditioning technique developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Classes feature exercises to improve core stability and encourage healthy posture. Various pieces of equipment such as stability balls, resistance bands, foam rollers and Pilates studio equipment, like Reformers, may be used.

“What we’re really trying to do is teach people how to move better,” says Lynne Robinson, co-founder and director of Body Control Pilates. “We have three fundamentals – the ABCs. One is correcting the alignment of the body (A), then working on your breathing (B) and centring (C), which is core stability.”

Why should runners do Pilates?

Core stability is essential for good running technique and to help avoid injury. “In terms of runners, sometimes a slight imbalance in the body will go on to create problems because it’s such a repetitive movement that you’re doing. Even a small adjustment in your posture or in your core stability can make a huge impact,” says Robinson.

What’s the difference between matwork Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

Both classes work the same muscles in the same way, but just with different challenges. Matwork takes place on the floor and can be done without any equipment or with small items to make it more challenging (such as balls, bands and rollers). Reformer classes use Universal Reformers (see one here). These are frame structures with springs and pulleys that provide resistance as exercises are carried out, and give a symmetrical grid to work in.

What are the benefits of each kind?

With Reformers, the closed chain environment provides a particularly effective workout. “We can really work on correcting hip, knee and ankle alignment, and improving the tracking of the knee”, Robinson says. “Particularly useful for runners with knee problems, we can focus on the vastus medialis obliquus, one of your quadriceps. Even though runners often get strong quads, this stabilising muscle can be weak. There’s also a Reformer attachment called a jump board, which is great for improving your running action.”

In terms of matwork, Robinson says the main benefit is “you can do matwork anywhere, in particular before and after your run. Unless you live above a studio you won’t have access to the equipment 24/7.” Additionally, Pilates accessories are widely available to buy if you wish to supplement your routine.

“With the Reformer, you probably get slightly quicker results than you will do just doing the matwork, however realistically most runners are not going to have access to a Reformer before and after they run. So, what they’ve got to do is come up with a few simple exercises to do.”

 

 

2015, last post …………

Well, it has been a hectic month or two.  I have been very remiss again with my updates.

Star Pilates with Jackie Brealey

We had our lovely American friend staying all November, consequently all our spare time was spent shopping and sightseeing with Marilyn.  And a great time was had by all!  I have spent more time shopping in November than in the the last 5 years……phew, the lady can shop, I was on my knees.  Talk about last post, last legs I think.  We did have a fantastic month though so i’m not complaining. We went for cocktails and a fab meal up the Shard.  The Christmas decorations were stunning and the food delicious, and we decided two sweets were probably enough between the three of us (we all have small appetites!).  Fell about laughing when they turned up and they weren’t big enough to feed a sparrow!!

December was equally busy, have to admit there was quite a bit of partying as well as working!  I had some great fun in the classes on the run up to Christmas despite quite a few being off poorly.  And I was lucky enough to be covering quite a few classes at Pennyhill and the Berystede.  2015, has been great year workwise, the cover classes and all my own clients. This is my last post for 2015 and I want to thank everyone for their support and attendance in this last year.  Love you guys.

Wishing everyone a great new year, and may 2016 bring you all the health and happiness………..and Pilates you could wish for. 🙂

Transverse versus six pack!

Well, after a short week after Easter everything was back to normal this week and i had a week concentrating on flexion and the Transverse abdominus!.

After the last few months of starting classes with standing and the hunter gatherer squat, I thought i would get back to some classic flexion exercises.  If you ask  people what part of the body they would most like to work on, they will say the tummy,  the muffin tops, beer bellies, post natal flab and just general overeating part!.  I have no problem with this as Pilates exercise is invariably concentated on the tummy muscles.  To be exact the ‘Transverse abdominus’ muscle, which has been  nicknamed the ‘girdle of strength’.  And yes it is true to say, this muscle is helpful in strenghening the core.  The muscle is fairly large and acts a little like a girdle,  wrapping round the lower torso and attaching to the spine.  An underused Transverse abdominus can mean a  weak core and can ultimately lead to lower back problems. So exercising can indeed help strengthen the muscle and tighten the tummy…..but, it has to be done properly to reap the full benefit.

So many people doing, a sit up or hundreds will engage the wrong set of muscles by lifting the tailbone and planting the lumbar spine into the mat.  This, although not ‘wrong’, uses the rectus muscle….which is a more ‘cosmetic’ muscle and yes, no doubt it can look good,  but it doesn’t use the lower deeper core stabialising muscle of the Trasverse abdominus.  To use this muscle correctly, the ‘tailbone’ should be lenghthened away rather than lifted, so the lumbar is just off the mat.  The feet should feel light on the floor and the pelvis heavy.  The back of ribcage should be down on the mat, the neck lenghenend away from the tailbone with the chin tucked in slightly.

In a sit up the fingers are linked and the head (not neck) cradled in the hands, the elbows are where you can see them just in your peripheral vision at all times, even when NOT curled up.  Look down the body before you curl up and keep the feet light on the floor…….don’t lift the tail bone, stay heavy in the sacrum.  Feel the difference between doing a sit up with and without lifting the tailbone, the work is in the lower transverse abs, and strenthening the deeper core muscle when not lifting!

The classic Hundred exercise also lengthening through the tailbone, not lifting it, using the transverse muscle.

Hundreds with Jackie Brealey

Have a go at home using your transverse muscle.  Don’t forget to use the pelvic floor muscle too!

 

Pilates for a summer body!

Well Easter is now passed, thank goodness, I really can’t stop myself when it comes to chocolate!  I tried not to buy any eggs but still managed a few dozen cream eggs over the last month……..I know how bad am I!!  Why do all the holidays involve chocolate.  So I am now trying to cut back on the sugar and bad stuff to get back on track!

And now ta dah….the sun has arrived!  Yes, we are promised a good few weeks of sunshine, which is so good for the soul.  Unfortunately not so good for winter bodies.  So people now is the time to kick start the healthy spring body and get down to some serious Pilates.  My classes will be concentrating on toning those waistlines and legs so we can all move into the warmer months stronger and leaner……..this is the plan, ladies and gents!

Try doing a few exercises in the morning when first get up.  Start with some gentle stretching and and deep slow breathing.  Get the lungs working properly and wake up the muscles.  And then pick 2 or 3 exercises from your classes and do 10 or 12 repetitions of each.  If your mornings are too manic then do the exercises in the evening or even lunchtime at home or work if you have a place that you can use.  However, if you are at work, or even doing your weekly shop do be sure  to pick your moment and exercise , probably not  a good idea to be lying down in the aisles of Sainsburys!

Doing Pilates 3 times weekly really can change the shape of your body.  If you can only make one class a week then do some at home too.  Yes i know we all lead busy lives but 15/20 minutes a couple of times in a week should be do-able.

seated adductor with Jackie Brealey

For those of you already doing  Pilates session a week just pick a few exercises and get started!  Single leg stretch, double leg stretch, hip rolls, spine curls and cobra or dart, are a good few to start with.  Then maybe on another day,  sit ups,  toe taps,  criss-cross or oblique sit ups, diamond press and roll downs.  You may want to just start with one day extra and build up to two.  Just talk yourself into believing it can and will make a difference if you stick at it.  Be confident in you ability to sculpt a better body, I know you can do it, you have to believe it too!!  Working hard now will pay off for the summer body.

Pilates is a great for making things simple or more difficult, remember the exercises can be built up or broken down to suit your ability, so if you already attend classes try and make a little time extra each week to incorporate a few short sessions in your own time.  If you don’t already do Pilates, come and join me in a first session, Pilateswithjackie, on a one to one basis and we can go through what you need to do to start re-align, re-shape and/or repair your  body.  Then if you want to join a class we can find one to fit in with needs.

Remember Pilates can re-align, re-shape and repair.

 

Pilates for a healthy back

Pilates exercise promotes good back health, among other things of course! The exercises teach good alignment of the spine and strengthening of the deep postural muscles which when weak can cause pain in the back, neck and other joints.
Pilates improves strength, flexibility and mobility and can teach awareness of good movement patterns in the spine and other joints.
Classes once (or twice a week if you have time) can really benefit your body by learning postural awareness and building up strength in your deep core muscles. This strength and good alignment learnt form your Pilates exercises can then be taken away with into your everyday life, and decrease the chance of back pain in your work or leisure time.

Leg extension with Jackie Brealey

Individuals with significant back problems may benefit form several one to one sessions. This also may be the case with beginners, and while private sessions may be more expensive than a class, the time and money may well be worth the investment to tailor make the exercises to suit your problems and ability.
All in all, these principles of good movement patterns for the back and joints are taught in some of the simplest exercises of the Pilates method.
If you are interested in learning more then come a long to a class either before work or in an evening and i can help point you in the right direction!
You can contact me on my website here or message me on my pilateswithjackie Facebook page.
Kick start your healthy back program by joining one of my Pilates classes or in a one to one session.