17-05-2020

Blog

I hope you're all staying safe and well and enjoying your extra hour's outdoor exercise each day! Last week I spotted Kirsty's At Home pilates class on Facebook and I knew it was going to be the topic for my next blog. Listed under the mindfulness section of the At Home Hub, this is exactly the type of exercise I enjoy doing. 

I remember once suggesting to an old boyfriend that he come along to a pilates class with me. It was the nineties and pilates was relatively new to the mainstream fitness class programmes. His response went something along the lines of it being a class for ‘middle aged women in leotards’.  I'm now feeling very glad that I never ended up in lockdown with that one!

20200517 104932There are so many things wrong with his statement that I’m not quite sure where to start; but just in case there are any residule sexist opinions floating about out there, let me give you a little info on this fantastic strength-building exercise.

- Pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility and is a great functional strength builder (more on that later)

- People of all ages, fitness levels and abilities can benefit from pilates as it offers varying options for most poses and stretches, taking you from the simple beginner stage to the deeper experienced stage.

- No one has worn a leotard to an exercise class since 1984 - and even at that, if you'd ever seen my Auntie Margaret kicking her heels on a Reebok step in her leotard and leggings you'd know that thinly-veiled dismissive remark means nothing. That was hardcore fitness! 

I am, as you'll probably have guessed, a pilates fan. I’ve been dipping in and out of it years, both at home and in classes. Many people consider it to be a modern day equivalent of yoga but in actual fact it has been around since the early 1900s having been developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected.

Pilates aims to strengthen the body in an even, balanced way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing. Regular pilates will improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, and once you get that breathing on track it can really help relieve stress and tension – something that we could all use at this strange time, I’m sure!

20200517 105050As you become more experienced, pilates can complement your S&C gym training by helping you develop whole-body flexibility, helping to reduce the risk of injury. 

There's some evidence that pilates can provide pain relief to people with lower back pain but I would say that for any exercise to be effective for pain they need to be tailored to the individual by a qualified instructor - so be wary of starting this now unless you check in with an expert. If you are in this group of people, and you're feeling motivated and ready to start now, then why not request a call from the Live Active Leisure wellbeing team?  Drop them an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your phone number and a little bit of background in the first instance.

It is classed as a muscle-strengthening activity rather than cardio and while it helps you maintain a healthy weight – and great muscle tone - if dropping a few pounds is your main aim, you'd be advised to combine it some aerobic activities that will get your heart rate up and your sweat on! Check out the At Home Hub for ideas – if you can handle the high intensity this is where you’ll see the pounds drop off.

The big benefit to pilates is that it is an amazing workout for building strength. In most classes – and in Kirsty’s short 30 minute workout here -  you work with your body weight and can choose to take a deeper option if you feel able.

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I think that the reason it is not quite as obvious as the strength training you do in a gym –probably the root cause of that misplaced middle-aged woman comment! - is that it focuses on functional strength training which means that you're coordinating your balance with the muscle contractions in a controlled way. 

Looking in, especially at Kirsty, it seems like you're hardly making any effort at all but I promise you this is not the case!  You will WORK.

In fact, if you look at my face in this week’s photos I am concentrating very hard in almost every pic – and you should have seen the ones I deleted!  On this note, please don’t use my photos as a reference to best posture as I’m in no way an expert  - listen to Kirsty and hit pause to get into position if that helps.

This is a 30 minute video and includes warm up and cool down stretches. If you don’t have a mat at home use a thick towel and grab a second wee one folded up for extra cushioning.

Kirsty's Pilates Workout At Home

How Did I Get On?

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As always when I go back to pilates, I love it almost instantly. I like the pace of this exercise but also the deep sense of being energised. I think it’s the combination of breathing and movement that does it for me.

I always think I can do the deeper options because getting into the initial pose is relatively easy for me – keeping it there is not! Start low and build unless you are a regular pilates person.

That Hundreds Move is a prime example of this – I can’t believe she talks all the way through it. I could hardly breathe and I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head!  The knee hug afterwards felt amazing.

Kirsty explains really well! I paused the video a few times to get into position.

Giving yourself a clap at the end is really encouraging – you might feel a bit daft to start with but I promise you’ll feel great afterwards!

If you're getting your pilates moves on at home during lockdown, we'd love to see you! Post a pic on social media and tag it #WeLiveActive.

- Follow the Live Active Leisure Facebook page for daily workout ideas every day at 10am.  

 - Have you tried out the At Home videos from other LAL instructors? Check them out on the YouTube Channel here >>

- You can read Nicki’s week 1 – 6 Lockdown Diaries on our blog here >>>