As I sit down to write this I realize that it is the birthday of the founder and developer of my favourite form of exercise. Happy Birthday to you Josef Pilates! I also realized that in my 13 years of teaching this art form, I have never actually written about it. So, Josef Pilates, this one is for you.
I fell into Pilates about 13 years ago when I was coming off my my third maternity leave. It was a course that I was offered and so I decided to jump in head first. It was 'love at first sight' and not much has changed since that first lesson. I am often asked what it is that I love about Pilates. There are many things that I love about the beauty of Pilates but I will break it down into three main catagories.
Control: Initially Pilates called his practice 'Contrology' to reflect the idea that movement is meant to integrate the mind and the body all while maintaining a certain amount of neuromuscular control to execute many of the movements. He believed in the notion of properly and scientifically exercising every muscle in your body with the idea that movement begins with your 'core'.
He also claimed that “Contrology” was the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. It develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit. (Excerpt from Return to Life Through Contrology – Joseph Pilates 1945).
Its uniqueness lies in activating the “core muscles” first and foremost so that the following movements have proper support and originate from the strength built from the abdomen and spine.
Common exercises are broken down and re-educated adding breath and verbal cues to help you guide your body and move with ease and understanding of what your body can achieve while not overdoing anything that doesn’t feel right. Strengthening your spine, abdomen region, and every muscle fibre in your body while moving in a way that improves your blood circulation.I
Deep dive into body awareness: When you are moving intentionally and thinking through each and every movement as you do in Pilates, you start to pay attention to how your body moves, where you hold tension and eventually, where some imbalances may lie. It also fine tunes our ability to truly listen to our body's cues and work within them. Our bodies innately have this beautiful communication loop that is constantly giving us feedback and in Pilates we really tune in and listen.
Remedial in nature: The remedial power of Pilates came ultimately from the desire to rehabilitate others who were injured and in the unhealthy conditions of an internment camp during world war 1. Many of the classical movements in Pilates can be broken down into thoughtful, remedial type of movements that are similar to what you would receive from your favourite Physiotherapist. Each movement builds self awareness and equally as important - self efficacy, the belief that you are capable. If you enter into a class feeling tight and sore or maybe even fearful that the exercises may hurt, little by little, movement by movement, you start to lessen those restrictions and feel a 'freeness' to your mobility and your confidence starts to grow. It truly is a beautiful thing!
At EPWC, our group classes are small and comfortable so that we can, as much as possible, address many different needs of our clientele. We take the time to teach through the various layers, modifications and options of a movement in the hopes of capturing as much of the important ‘issues’ as possible (SI joint tightness, sore hip, tight neck and shoulders). A group setting is a great economical way to address some basic issues whereas a private session is where we get to dig deeper and discover a whole other layer of specificity. Where the one on one private session really shines is when we can work specifically on your need that day and then address old movement habits and challenges/injuries of the past. One of my favourite parts is when Wellness Coaching becomes an integral part of the Pilates session! It is a beautiful thing when it all comes together. When a deeper understanding of perhaps why the breath or movement has become restricted….but that is a whole other topic of discussion!
Here is just the beginning of what sets our ‘little company that could’ apart from the big guys.
* Improving self-efficacy (the belief that you CAN do it) – At Extension Pilates and Wellness Coaching we are working hard to quash the notion that Pilates and overall change is hard to do. Our Remedial and beginners Pilates classes are geared to those who may question if Pilates is ‘do-able’. When you build your foundations first along with your general knowledge of how and why we move a certain way, you will be see how ‘do-able’, and ultimately how powerful Pilates really is! As for Coaching, we break the process of change into steps and strategies so that the overwhelming becomes satisfying. I like to use the analogy that if change is the large elephant in the room, and you are expected to eat the whole thing, Coaching is taking it one smart, strategic bite at at time.
* Quality of care – Extension Pilates will work closely with your care provider (Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Osteo, Rheumatologist. etc) to ensure we are doing the right things to propel you forward.
* Getting started – Both Pilates and Wellness Coaching are your best tools to set you on your path of overall wellness success. How you may ask? Pilates teaches you the specific muscle recruitment patterns, body awareness and proper breathing techniques to make you stronger for any activity you choose to do. Wellness Coaching sets the ground work by helping create a clear vision of where it is you are heading and how you are going to get there. Coaching is about clarity, strategy, accountability and outcomes!
* Small class sizes – Small class sizes means the instructor can supervise, correct and modify much more effectively.
* Experience – over 25 years of experience in the Fitness and Wellness industry.
* Customer service – Life is busy. With our online scheduling system, booking a class is free and easy. We remind our participants weekly to register to make the process faster and easier and our system reminds you the day before your class.
Ahhh sleep, the elusive night time endeavour! We have been doing it for thousand and thousands of years but just now slowly unlocking the mystery of sleep. It is one of the great puzzles of human health waiting to be pieced together. “Nature has endowed us with an amazing brain. So why in the world would nature have that very same brain put itself to sleep for one-third of our lives?” (Shankar Vedantam)
From, Alzheimers, mental health, peformance, healing, immune function, growth and regrowth…sleep is an all powerful thing and the benefits from a good 6- 8 hour sleep are just what the doctor ordered.
“If we didn’t need eight hours of sleep and we could survive on six, Mother Nature would have done away with 25 percent of our sleep time millions of years ago because when you think about it, sleep is an idiotic thing to do. If sleep does not provide a remarkable set of benefits, then it’s the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made.” (Matthew Walker)
Above is an excerpt from an interview about brain behaviour during sleep. Want more? Read the transcript from the conversation titled ‘eyes wide open‘
Enjoy and goodnight, sleep tight!