The Pilates Method
The Pilates Method is a combination of muscle toning and strengthening exercises with an emphasis on flexibility and relaxation. This mind-body method of exercise builds strong abdominals, improves posture and coordination, and builds long lean muscles.
Why Pilates for 50+?
By Colleen Craig
We work with wherever you are right now. The focus is on what you can do, not what you can’t.
In Pilates we work the body as a whole, moving unit. Stretching is very important for adults of all ages, but how do we begin if your body is tight and does not enjoy being stretched. A Pilates approach addresses this common issue by building range of motion right into the movement. For example, in some exercises we stretch the hamstrings at the same time as work the abs. In the resistance band exercises we stretch muscles as we strengthen them. We stretch as we go – which is ideal for older adults who might find holding static stretches challenging and even painful.
After 50, one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is add in weight training.
Pilates-based weight work, whether it be with bands and weights, or the resistance of one’s own body, is essential for all of us to maintain muscle mass, strong bones and endurance as we age. In every single class we work with small weights and resistance bands to ensure that the small deep muscles are strong before adding heavier weight to the moves. We use range of motion, to build strength multi-directionally: not just ‘gym muscle’ but functional muscle that we use in our everyday lives.
Another benefit you will feel is an improvement in balance. Research demonstrates that strength training and balance exercises can significantly reduce the incidence of falls of older and even elderly adults. In some exercises, you will be combining weight training and balance in the same move. Soon your daily movements will feel easier and more confident.
If you have trouble getting down and up from the mat, Chair and Standing Pilates is the place to start. This 30-minute class uses weights and bands to improve balance, strength and posture. Try a free class and see how you feel afterwards.
There is no need to purchase expensive equipment. Nor is a lot of space required. A padded Pilates mat, a couple of sets of free weights (two or three, and five pounds) and an elastic resistance band are all that is necessary. Small and large balls are used in some of the classes, but most exercises can be done without a ball. Chair and Standing Pilates utilizes bands and weights and a sturdy chair.
The deeper you get into the work, the more you will understand the exercises and feel their benefits. Pilates is not just about what you do on the mat during a class. It’s a way of thinking about and moving the body that extends far beyond. It can enrich other aspects of your life, enhancing mindfulness, fitness and relaxation.
Basic Principles of The Pilates Method
- Concentration — to engage your mind on what your body is doing.
- Control — to coordinate your body so that movements will not be sloppy or haphazard.
- Centering — the ability to work from a strong core.
- Breathing — to breath three-dimensionally into the rib cage.
- Postural alignment — awareness of the position of your body at all times.
- Flow — slow, supple, graceful movements.
- Precision — exact, economic, accurate movements.
- Stamina — introduce the element of intensity to build endurance.
- Relaxation — to learn to release the body and not to overwork it.