WHAT IS MAT PILATES AND IS IT FOR ME?
Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit – Joseph Pilates.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Mat Pilates is just another trend – here for a good time, not a long time, and soon to join the likes of the ab-circle-pro and leotard/leg-warmer aerobics in the archives of forgotten exercise sensations. BUT given that the Pilates Method, a series of well-designed and sequenced movements, was practiced and developed in the 1930s and 1940s, it is safe to say that it has (so far) stood the test of time and really is here to stay.
Joseph Pilates developed a system of exercises which were intended to strengthen the human mind and body. This was based on the assumption that mental and physical health were connected – something we now know to be undeniably true. He called this system “Contrology”; each exercise is intended to be carried out with complete muscle control, starting from the centre, stabilising the core/trunk, and moving outwards towards the limbs.
Mat Pilates is the first stage of training. It is where we re-train the body to breathe and activate through the core, and begin work on stretching, mobilising and strengthening. This is achieved using the resistance of gravity and bodyweight in different positions. We lift and lower, bend and straighten, pulse, circle and hold – and don’t forget to breathe. Then we increase the challenge: weights, bands, balls, balance, or apparatus with spring-based resistance.
The key principles are concentration, control, centre, flow, precision, and breathing. And then: postural alignment, stamina and relaxation.
That’s great, but why do we love Mat Pilates?
Getting back to basics. When was the last time you sat down and focused on how to breathe? Or set aside some time to consciously feel how your body is moving? These things are so important and they are effortlessly integrated into a mat Pilates class – taking time at the start to work on mobility and time at the end to stop, breathe, focus on relaxing the body and resetting for the rest of your day.
Unconscious rehabilitation. Did you know that when we sit for long periods of time (read: long commutes, desk job, Netflix binge, hooked on a great book, social media scrolling. The list goes on (and on and on)), our bodies develop a pattern of muscular dysfunction? Namely, our hip flexors and our lumbar muscles tighten and overactivate, and our glutes and abs ‘switch-off’. In Pilates, we target these muscles individually to remind them how to switch back on! Once they’re turning on again, we add in functional movements to make sure they’re firing on all canons for your everyday activities.
Caters to beginners and experienced students. Mat classes are all about layers. The first exercise is to establish the movement and the target muscle group. If that’s tricky enough, keep doing that. Or you can kick it up a notch; perhaps changing the movement, perhaps adding a dumbbell, perhaps moving both arms and legs. The class is yours to make it what you want, as long as you’re ready to listen to your body.
Simple, reproducible exercises. Loved a class and want to do more? Easy, all you need is your body and some floor space. Noticed that you struggled with one exercise, or perhaps that one side felt stronger than the other? Great, you can practice that one at home. Can’t get to the class as much as you’d like? That’s fine, because you can do it all in your own time! Even better – talk to our chiro and Pilates instructor, Chelsea, to organise a one-on-one to track your progress, identify where you most need to improve, and get a personalized exercise plan to take home with you.
Keen to try it out? Mat Pilates classes are now running in Leopold. We’re sure to have you hooked on a feeling –the stretch, the twist, the roll, the burn! Call 52505902 or visit www.latrobehealthcentre.com.au/leopoldchiropractor for more information or to book online.