Listen to your body – Part 2 of our Pilates journey with a member of our community.
I managed a few in house classes before we were hit by another lockdown. I didn’t want this to be a step back and it’s thanks to social media I’ve been able to continue with Pilates.
I came across ALM Pilates on Instagram. I messaged Anthony, the fitness instructor for more details. Anthony informed me of the range of classes available (beginner, intermediate level etc) and mentioned he does fitness workouts as well, all via Zoom.
Unlike the in-person classes, I wasn’t nervous at the thought of joining Zoom with people I’ve never met. I chose to take up the beginner classes, taking place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s. I was added to a WhatsApp group where Zoom links are shared.
Although I’ve never met Anthony, I felt included in the class straightaway. His Zoom is spotlighted so there are no distractions. An important part for me about this is it lets me completely concentrate as I have nobody to compare with.
After the first class, I signed up because I knew I’d benefit from the classes. Also, I’ve struggled with working from home so having Pilates included in the routine has helped me so much.
Positioning is key
The class begins with positioning. I’ve been taking part in classes since October 2020, but this never fails to amaze me. Before now, I’ve never thought about how important the positioning of your arms, shoulders, neck, chin and PELVIS is.
‘Pay attention to the pelvis’ ‘Has your pelvis moved?’ ‘Connect to the powerhouse’
Trust me, it makes a huge difference to exercises.
As I’ve mentioned before, running makes me stiff and I really notice this during Pilates. Anthony is very good at clocking positions. Often, my shoulders are by my ears or neck pushed forwards. Straightaway, this is clocked and by simply dropping the shoulders and pulling my neck back, I can see an improvement.
Also, after each exercise, we are asked to either hug our knees or stretch forward to provide relief. Anthony openly says, do whatever stretch you feel the body needs. It is your body. I think this is really important, even moving away from Pilates because it is important to listen to your body.
More beneficial than an in-person class
Although we’re not in the class, it feels a lot like having a personal trainer in your living room…
Take the spine twist with saw movement. I’m going to be honest; I hate this exercise as I feel it challenges my shoulders and neck and struggle to keep my arms up. Again, Anthony clocks that I’m not twisting well and asks me to go back to the beginning. He tells me to straighten my back, put the crown of my head up to the ceiling with my neck and shoulders away from each other and gets me to twist.
‘Keep twisting’ he says. I do feel better once my positioning is correct. For me, I think because I know it feels tight, I stop but in reality, keeping going is the best. I say I hate it, but my point is, even though instructors are not there in-person, it is good to know incorrect positions are still picked up.
This goes back to what I’ve said previously that one of the reasons I’ve picked up Pilates is because I know the home workouts I was following were doing more harm than good. There is nobody telling you about positioning and also I’d probably always skip the exercises I found hard instead of giving them a go.
I love the educational side of the classes too. There’s often a historical background of Joseph Pilates and how gravity wants to pull legs/arms down but there needs to be resistance to ensure strength can increase.
What I also like about the classes is that I never know what type they are going to be until the Zoom code is shared.
‘You’ll need a chair’ / ‘You’ll need two tins’
Who needs gym equipment?! The chair ones are tough. Often, I run before Pilates so the chair move involves being on your tiptoes, half up and down and pulsing, that really burns. Also, the squats on my tip toes and pulsing it out is a killer. I’m yet to complete all reps of this but I’m slowly getting there.
What I find interesting is the difference I feel when classes are either fast or slow paced. The slow paced class is where I notice my stiffness whereas during the high energic classes, I go with the flow and don’t think about moving to each exercise as much. The faster paced classes are my favourite, but it is still good to get the technicality of the moves correct during the slow classes.
Two exercises I struggle with are the crab and teaser. I’m unable to get the balance or the strength to come back to my tailbone. Again, Anthony is aware of everybody’s level and never points out or puts pressure on people. He reiterates that we are all at different stages and we will improve and master eventually. Anthony also knows about any injuries and adapts exercises to suit the person. It’s great that nobody is being judged and you still feel you can join in.
We end the class with light meditation, enabling us to focus on breathing. What is really good for me is we are told when a thought enters our mind, to hold it there for a second and say ‘thinking’ before letting it leave. This sets me up for the day and is really good for my mind.
I am glad I’ve come across ALM Pilates so I’m able to progress with Pilates. Anthony is a great and calm teacher. I enjoy that I’m learning too. It is interesting to get the reasoning behind the importance of posture and why Pilates became a form of exercise. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’ll have to go back into the office again. I hope there is flexibility so there is opportunity for people to continue to have the balance of exercise and work. It’s great for the mind.