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Trying new things can be hard, but variety is what makes life interesting right? Not too long ago, I decided to try out Pilates for the first time. Here are my takeaways:
Starting out the class, I introduced myself to the instructor. I let her know it was my first class and that I may take breaks.
I chose very low weights for arm exercises to reduce the risk of injury.
The first exercises we did were to warm up. I thought about the areas I wanted to accentuate with the class. (I am trying to work on my glute strength. So, I worked on squeezing my bottom.)
For the arm exercises, I tried to keep my shoulders down and the angles of my shoulder blades squeezed to my body to avoid compensating with my upper traps (which is where I carry my stress).
Enter the most important part of Pilates: the CORE! When we began core exercises I knew to draw my belly button to my spine and to contract my abdominals even between my pelvic bones. I also knew it was important to keep my back flat. I thought about this throughout the exercises. If I couldn’t maintain correct technique, then I stopped, or went back to one of the easier exercises. For some of the core exercises we also used our arms. When I felt my upper traps becoming overactivated I squeezed the angles of my shoulder blades together. If that didn’t work, then I left out my arms.
Finishing the class – the instructor came over and asked what I thought – for me it was a great experience. I hope you have a similar experience for your first Pilates class!
Before my second class I glanced at a few research articles about the effects of Pilates. The research supports that participation in Pilates enhances lumbo-pelvic stability and it improves the flexibility of the lower back and legs. Also, I noticed one abstract, which stated that doing Pilates for six months is shown to improve life satisfaction, perception of appreciation by other people, perception of physical appearance, perception of functionality, total physical self-concept and perception of health status.
If I can achieve all of that through Pilates, I think I’ll keep taking it!
Mary Jean McKinnon, PTA, is a physical therapy assistant with OrthoCarolina’s Eastover PT office.