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As a Personal Trainer and Pilates instructor in Swindon I often get asked “would Pilates benefit or compliment my existing training schedule?” To answer this question, let me start by explaining what Pilates is all about.

Pilates focuses on what founder Joseph Pilates called the “powerhouse.” Often referred to as the core, this consists of your abdominal, back, buttock and upper leg muscles. Each exercise requires focus on this centre of the body while adhering to principles of concentration, fluidity, balance, centring, breathing and control. The beauty of each exercise is that you focus on using your deep muscles in a very slow and controlled way, Pilates really does make you think about how you move.

Did you know that there are 34 original Pilates exercises which have endless layers starting with beginners’ to intermediate and finally advanced. It is a class that offers constant progression and learning.  I would advise if you are new to Pilates to always start at the beginners’ level to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of Pilates and the exercises.

Mat Pilates classes are non-impact, making Pilates appropriate for all ages (I have class members ranging from 25 to 71 years old), fitness levels and sizes.  Pilates is performed in bare feet (or socks) enabling you to feel every movement and to allow flow from your joints. Instruction is “hands on” to correct and guide you in your movement. It is my job as a Pilates instructor to ensure you are in control, working within the appropriate layer to achieve the full benefit.

Pilates is not about cardiovascular fitness. You will not get out of breath as all exercises are slow and controlled.  However you will be moving in all directions. The main focus is always to lengthen your spine. Even though you will not get out of breath you will certainly feel that you are working and toning your muscles.

As an experienced Swindon Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer, I can adapt each exercise to suit you. I have many members tell me how after attending just a few of our classes they are walking taller, relaxing their shoulders and thinking more about their postures in everyday life WOW. You can see why Pilates is used for prevention and rehabilitation of injuries etc.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Proper alignment balances your skeleton so your muscles are held at their ideal length, without tension. If your body is constantly held out of good alignment, it places a great strain on your muscles, ligaments, and joints, which will reduce your body’s ability to react to the force of gravity, resulting in aches and pains and inhibited movement.

Pilates is a wonderful body-conditioning programme because you don’t need any equipment in order to strengthen your body. You can simply use your own body weight to create resistance for your muscles and to tone up. This truly does mean that your workout will be only as effective as the effort you put in to the exercises.

We all want to achieve a strong body, but there must be a balance between strength and flexibility, and Pilates is the perfect exercise regime to achieve this. Tight muscles hinder your mobility and can lead to tension, aches, and pain. Flexibility is essential for your overall fitness and vitality. It ensures a greater range of movement in your joints, and will in turn mean your joints remain healthy and fare better against normal wear and tear as they age.

For a lot of us, our muscle tone while at rest may be quite weak. Muscles respond quickly to regular exercise, and after a few weeks of Pilates you should notice visible muscle tone and see your body begin to evolve. Pilates uses your body weight and the occasional prop as resistance for shaping your muscles, but it trains every part of your body evenly – front, back, and sides.

Pilates builds endurance within individual exercises and also within workouts. Focus on improving your concentration to build strength for both – endurance comes first from mental strength and therefore requires determination and persistence. Visualize your success and becoming stronger, and stay strong through challenging exercises.

Stress is one of the biggest negative factors of modern life, affecting your physical and mental wellbeing just as much as disease does. Frequent exercise is one of the best remedies for stress and has many benefits. Pilates focuses on breathing – a deep, mindful pattern of breathing that instantly enhances feelings of calm and release in the body and mind.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pilates a hands on class?

The instructor will move around the room and correct your movement hands on if needed. 

Will I be able to keep up?

There is no peer pressure in Pilates, if you are a complete novice to exercise, beginners Pilates classes are perfect to get you started. You shall be mainly seated or lying down, with your focus on the movement and flow of the exercise.

I have high blood pressure can I attend? 

Yes provided you have spoken with your GP. Pilates is totally non-impact which will not increase your HR. You shall feel relaxed which will benefit your blood pressure.

I am very overweight will I be able to perform the exercises to the required level?

Yes, beginners’ Pilates is perfect for overweight and obese attendees. You are performing each exercise slowly whilst seated or lying down. A good instructor can tailor the exercise for you.

Am I too old to attend Pilates? 

Not at all, the only pre-requisite is that you are able to get up and down from the floor.

 
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Mention a step fitness class and it usually conjures up images of aerobics-style choreographed routines introduced by Gin Miller in the Eighties. 

Luckily, with JBPT PowerStep, you don't need legwarmers OR dance-style coordination to enjoy the benefits of step exercise!  

We use simple step movements in all planes of motion designed to improve both cardiovascular health and muscular endurance. A great example of compound exercise, stepping focuses on the largest muscle groups in the body: the glutes in the bottom which extend and abduct the hip, and the quadriceps in the thighs which extend the knee as you step up.  This makes it perfect for toning both the bum and the thighs.  You have the choice to perform each step exercise using a height of either 15cm (for beginners), 20cm (intermediate) or 26cm (advanced), making it suitable for all fitness levels.  Low impact options are offered for each exercise for beginners or anyone returning from injury.

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In JBPT PowerStep, the step is complemented by another deceptively simple piece of equipment - gliding discs.  These discs are designed to slide or "glide" across a hard floor surface with low friction when pushed or pulled under the hands or feet.  By elongating the muscular time under tension, they offer a highly effective method of core training. Gliding disc exercises such as "Froggy Circles" are becoming firm favourites amongst our class members!  Join us and stay one step ahead on your fitness mission this summer!

 

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A compound resistance exercise is a multi-joint movement which works several different muscle groups simultaneously.   Examples include the “daddy” of all bodyweight exercises – the squat – and the deadlift.  Unfortunately, a majority of gyms are full of equipment that is geared towards resistance exercises that isolate one or two joints to target specific muscle groups.  For example, in a leg extension machine, you sit down and move the knee joint alone using the quadriceps muscle group in isolation.  There are many negatives to this sort of exercise:

  1. You have probably been sat down  at work all day, then sat down in your car seat to drive to the gym.  You have been sat down all day – you need to MOVE MORE, not sit down again!
  2. The seated position reduces the need to stabilise the body using the core muscles, an area which most exercisers are keen to target.
  3. The fixed weight hides any imbalances in strength between your left and right sides, so it may exacerbate rather than correct such problems.

In contrast, compound exercises (using bodyweight alone or with free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells) mimic real life functional movements, where all muscle groups are required to fire simultaneously.   A great example is the everyday activity of picking up shopping bags, which is basically a deadlift.  It certainly isn’t a hamstring curl!

This isn’t to say that fixed resistance machines don’t have their uses.  If you have a lower body injury, for example, they can be used to continue to strengthen the upper body during this time, without having to hobble back and forwards to the weight rack.  However, what may people tend to forget is that fixed resistance machines originally were designed and intended specifically as rehabilitation aids – not for general fitness!  Regrettably, their omnipresence in modern gyms persists as they require less staff supervision compared to free weights and other more functional equipment.  It certainly isn’t due to their effectiveness in helping the average gym-goer reach their goals!

So what is the alternative?  Ensuring that your resistance exercise is based around compound exercises brings many benefits:

  1. Burn far more body fat
  2. Strengthen the core
  3. Protect against injury in everyday life
  4. Shorter, more effective workouts

If you don’t have the equipment for deadlifts or kettlebell workouts, bodyweight exercises work just as well!  Squats, lunges, woodchops, planks and mountain climbers are great examples of effective compound movements that can be done anywhere with zero equipment!  If you prefer a group fitness environment, these exercises also feature in Metafit: Join the Fat-Burn Revolution, a 30 minutes bodyweight HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise class. 

For full details and online bookings, visit our group exercise classes page.

 
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