By Anthea Counsel
So you’ve heard the news and want to find out what Pilates is all about!. Let’s start from the beginning. A common misconception is that Pilates is anew form of movement practice, but in reality, it was originated in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Pilates is the practice of movement designed to improve your physical strength, flexibility, mobility, body and mental awareness. It is a pattern of movements that are teamed together to help you tune into your body, allowing you to create a mind to muscle connection like no other, connecting with your parasympathetic nervous system to help reduce stress within the body.
The best thing about Pilates is that it is for everybody! There is no one that Pilates isn't suited to. While training your body as an integrated whole, the practice promotes strength, balanced muscle development, increased range of motion and overall flexibility. You may have heard of Reformer Pilates and are thinking, “But I don’t have one of those fancy machines?!” Don't stress. Mat Pilates is just you and your body, battling it out and pushing together – of course you can have the addition of props – but the main focus is around your own body awareness and using the strength we all have within our own selves.
Pilates is a fantastic practice for individuals of all ages, it’s easy to modify and adapt to any needs you may present. For myself, I have a chronic pain condition which manifests in my wrists mainly, meaning sometimes putting pressure on my hands or joints isn’t really an option. That’s why I turn to the mat, because there are so many ways for me to move my body, without putting it under unnecessary strain.
So you’re a beginner … but where to start?
Starting any new form of movement can be daunting, we all know that feeling of having to step into a class or gym for the first time - ah the dread! This is why I absolutely love Mat Pilates. Yes there are places all over the country for you to go and practice Pilates, but there’s also a really great place that’s super local to everyone … your own home. Being in your own space, making sure you’re comfortable and feel at ease is the first step I like my clients to take when jumping into any new form of movement. Here are my top tips for getting into Pilates for the very first time.
- First things first, set up an open space with either an exercise mat, or maybe just some space on the carpet, either with a device to follow along or maybe a written plan is where you need to start.
- Throw on your favourite tunes, something that makes you happy, energised or maybe you want something relaxing and soothing today - the practice space is entirely yours.
- Start off small, tell yourself you’ll give it a go for 15-20 minutes to start. There’s no need to throw yourself into a 45 minute workout if you’re not feeling up to it. Take it step by step, then when you’re feeling up to it - maybe you repeat the workout twice or match two together to form a longer session.
- Be kind to yourself. Pilates is a hard form of movement, it takes time to see development and progression. Just make sure you stick to it, try to focus on how the practice makes you feel at the end of each session, rather than fixating on how many calories you burnt or how you’re looking in the mirror.
- Rest is super important and needed, even with something like Pilates. I know it’s exciting and if you fall in love with it as much as I did, it’s hard to stop. But rest is always key - don’t over do it or push yourself too hard.
Want to get on the Mat? I’ve got you covered.Let’s get you moving, here are three super simple Mat Pilates exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine. Maybe it’s at the end of a workout, or it could just be 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Give each exercise 60 seconds and repeat times 3, finishing with a 30 second plank to begin with.
Four Point Kneeling Lift and Lower with 15 Second Pulse - Right Side
Four Point Kneeling Lift and Lower with 15 Second Pulse - Left Side
Certified Mat and Reformer Pilates instructor, Anthea Counsel, is one of our talented 8-Week Program experts. Working at Melbourne-based studios Sum of Us and Salt Pilates, she has developed an On-Demand Pilates Library with extensive workout sessions focused on meeting you where you’re at. If you’re struggling with mobility or pain, Anthea’s got you covered. She understands the difficulties of chronic pain as a long-term fibromyalgia sufferer herself.
Anthea has the top tips for managing your health in a safe, balanced and comfortable way. Check out her website to learn all about her philosophy on forging a healthy lifestyle, and get excited for her exclusive content on the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program.