Welcome to the Pilates blog.
It’s sad to say, but summer is over. It’s getting dark earlier and more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. Motivation and energy levels are on the wane.
But this is where exercise comes in. Nothing raises your energy faster and more effectively than exercise. The simple act of moving can jump-start your metabolic machinery. Recent research shows that exercise has a direct, immediate effect on energy – if you do nothing more than stand up and hop up and down for three minutes, you will feel a surge of energy, and most likely a boost in your mood.
How does exercise boost energy levels?
Exercise boosts your body’s fitness level and also your mood, both of which contribute to overall health and well-being. This boost is a result of:
- An increase in endorphin levels. Endorphins are natural hormones in the body that get released when we are doing something that requires a burst of energy. They give us the energy to keep moving.
- Better heart health. Exercise boosts cardiovascular health, which allows you to have greater endurance throughout the day. When it’s easier to do your daily activities, you’ll have energy left and not feel so tired at the end of the day.
- Improved sleep. Exercise allows you to get a better night’s rest; when you get quality sleep, you feel perkier during the day.
- Sharper focus. Mentally, we feel more energised and ready to tackle the world after a good workout because endorphins have boosted our physical energy level
Pilates for energy
Reformer Pilates is a great way to re-energise. The physical conditioning, as well as the emphasis on breath control leaves you feeling worked out, relaxed and invigorated.
Going back to breath control, those of you who do Pilates will know that it’s key to the Pilates method. Each exercise has a different breathing pattern, designed to get the most out of your muscles, while increasing oxygen to your brain – giving you more energy.
Additional tips for more energy
• Stay hydrated, lack of fluids is a major cause of fatigue, since they transport nutrients and oxygen to our cells and organs.
• Clock more z’s ,energy starts with a good night’s sleep. Adults need eight to nine hours a night to restore and regenerate their minds and bodies
• Make stress work for you, stress has a bad rap but a certain amount of positive stress is good for us. Add some challenge to your life, whether it’s taking a writing or painting class, learning a new hobby or asking for more responsibility at work.
• Don’t skip breakfast, the word breakfast literally means “to break a fast,” and your body can’t shift into full gear when it hasn’t had fuel.
• Keep your iron in check, sluggishness especially in women, may be a sign of low iron. Women aged 19 to 49 need 18 to 30 milligrams a day of this mineral (eight milligrams after age 50), which helps the blood absorb energy-producing oxygen.
• Cut out caffeine, caffeine stimulates adrenalin release and blocks a relaxing brain chemical called adenosine. The net result is that it jazzes up your body and produces a stress reaction; once the initial jolt wears off you’re left feeling even more tired than before.
Exercise of the month: Pilates Reformer – Long Spine
The Long Spine exercise is a great one for energising. It is an inverted pose – meaning your head is below your heart. This gets more blood flowing to the brain, which results in physical and mental revitalisation.
The exercise is also great for strengthening and stretching the spine, working the core and toning the legs. You can also do this on the floor.
So how do you do it?
- Lie down on the reformer with your feet on the footbar.
- Place the straps on your feet and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle
- Inhaling, extend your legs slowly, straight in front of you, keeping your abdomen contracted
- Exhaling, lift your legs slowly up to the ceiling
- Slowly raise your hips and spine off the reformer
- Inhale, keeping your back straight
- Exhaling, bend your knees towards your head
- Bring your legs slowly down, supporting your spine
- Return to the start position and repeat 5 times
‘Ask the Expert’
Here’s the part of the blog where we answer your burning questions about Pilates. So if you’re wondering which Reformer exercise will best target your gluteus, or why your abs shake while you’re holding your plank, post them below, Tweet us, or send us a message on Facebook.
Q: Should I do Reformer Pilates when I have aches and pains?
A: Muscle soreness that occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise is normal, especially if you’re not used to exercising or have pushed yourself hard. It would be a good idea not to strain the sore muscles further with strenuous exercise but you can definitely continue with moderate exercise, and it will probably make you feel better.
There are, however, occasions when the pain or discomfort is different and can be indicative of a problem. The following are warning signs that might indicate you should stop exercising and seek some professional advice:
- Joint pain: This is different to muscle soreness and should not be dismissed or ignored. Exercise should not result in pain in the joints.
- Shooting pains: If you have shooting pains anywhere, it might indicate a neural problem. If they persist, you would probably benefit from seeing an Osteopath or a Physiotherapist.
- Persistent pain or swelling: If a pain persists for longer than two weeks or gets worse, see a healthcare professional, especially if the pain doesn’t respond to standard treatment methods (e.g., rest, ice, over-the-counter pain medications). Persistent swelling in or around the area of pain is also a warning sign.
Don’t forget that pain is the body’s way of communicating to us that a problem exists and a potential injury may be on the horizon.
Q: How is Reformer Pilates different than weight training or other resistance exercise?
A. Firstly, let me say that strength training is great for building muscle, which is important. Strong muscles protect against bone loss, help increase your metabolism, and aid in preventing osteoporosis, but weight training is not the easiest way to fine tune and fine tone muscles.
This is where Pilates comes in. It’s perfect for toning those smaller muscles that are hard to target with weight machines. By using your upper and lower body strength to move your body, every muscle is targeted in multiple ways.
Q: Can men do Reformer Pilates?
A: Absolutely! Because it does a good job strengthening the lower abdominal and pelvic muscles that are important for a woman’s childbearing, reproductive and urinary function, and because it doesn’t involve heavy steel, grunting or large amounts of weight, Pilates is often perceived as a “women’s only” activity.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, Pilates was invented by a man (Joseph Pilates). His work was never gender specific and in fact, his influence came hugely from martial arts techniques & the study of animal movement, in particular cats – think shell stretch.
Secondly, plenty of male athletes such as Andy Murray and Amir Khan, and the entire England Cricket Team practice Pilates alongside weight training and cardio.
How’s this for a spectacle?
On September 10, more than 1,000 people took part in a Pilates class at the place where its German creator, Joseph Pilates was interned on the Isle of Man, during World War One.The class was inspired by a postcard depicting internees putting on a Pilates display, just 15 days after Pilates’ arrival at the Knockloe camp. The Knockaloe camp was divided into 23 compounds each designed to hold 1,020 internees.Organisers recreated that figure for the one-off 45-minute class.
Happy anniversary Joseph Pilates!
As an incentive to try one of our Tempo Pilates classes, we’re running an introductory offer for anyone new to Tempo Pilates. Instead of £26, if you visit our sign-up page and create an online account here, your first class will cost £13. So why not experience the many benefits of Tempo Pilates? We have three studios – in Hackney, Shoreditch and Covent Garden – each offering a range of affordable Pilate’s classes to suit every level of fitness.
Pilates near me? Check out our studio locations below and see if you can book your reformer pilates class with us today.
Until next time, Daniel