Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Helen Mary's first Purely Pilates experience

The Beginning of my Journey with Purely Pilates

I was recently diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome which was a little shocking to me, although in some ways, it was also a huge relief. For longer than I can remember I have been having back problems, randomly spraining my wrists and knees for no reason and I felt tired all the time. Finally I knew what was actually wrong with me but sadly there is no cure or quick fix. I was surprised that, despite the many medical advancements, I was 'prescribed' Pilates and told that if I didn’t make it a part of my life I would be riddled with arthritis by the time I reached 40. There is nothing like a large dose of reality to shock you into doing something. I had heard of Pilates but didn’t really know much about it, I thought that it was similar to yoga but didn't really have a clue. A friend of mine recommended Purely Pilates so I gave them a call and had a lovely conversation with Karen. I didn't feel like just a number, like I did at the gym. I felt that she wanted to know about my problem and was going to help me find a solution.

I booked a one to one session so she could assess me and help me find the right kind of Pilates because it was all really confusing to me. Reformer, equipment, mat-work..... it may as well have been a foreign language.

On the day I felt apprehensive and if I'm honest I felt a little anxious as I often do when trying new things. I felt the acid rising in my throat as I tried to busy myself before the class. When I arrived there, I was buzzed in and as I climbed the stairs to the studio I still had no idea what to expect.  As I waited for Karen to finish her class I noticed another class finishing and woman clearly in their sixties, bending over and putting on their shoes with the ease of a teenager.  Pilates was obviously helping them stay supple and it gave me hope for my future. 

After filling out a form, Karen took me to a studio and we discussed my problems and how she could try to help me.  We went through exercises to try to strengthen my core and she was constantly adjusting the exercises to cater for my ability and to factor in my hypermobility and my carpal tunnel which I also have at the moment.  She made me feel totally at ease and all my previous anxiety very quickly dissipated.  It was such a lovely relaxed environment and felt like a real haven away from work and the children.  I was given homework to do and booked into a group class which I will throw myself into whole heartedly.

I came away feeling relaxed and positive and I am so looking forward to starting my course of classes.  My outlook is suddenly a lot brighter and I know that 2014 will be the year I help myself to live a life with fewer injuries.  
Helen Mary, Hove


Friday, 1 November 2013

Sick of saying 'Stop Slouching'?

Are you worried about your teenagers poor posture?  Tired of constantly nagging them to stand up straight?
Posture is the way we sit, stand and move.  When we have good posture the body is well balanced and we can move without placing the body under unnecessary strain. Those with good posture look taller, slimmer and more fluid in their movement. Good posture gives a person presence, allows them to command a room and helps them grow their height. 

Those with poor posture not only look bad but they can also cause long-term damage to their bodies. When they slouch their shoulders forward the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork.  When the shoulders slump the chest muscles shorten and the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken, and the back muscles stretch and strengthen.  Over time the functioning of their spine and arms are affected, breathing can become difficult and internal organs may be affected as they are pushed out of place resulting in problems with digestion.  In severe cases postural repetitive stress injury can in the long term contribute to osteopenia, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in the joints and bones. 

Your teenagers’ slouching has probably developed through habit, rapid growth, social pressures, poorly balanced muscle tone and perhaps even a dash of rebellion on their part.  The problem is that the body can adapt to this slouching, poor posture feels normal and continues to regress further from correct posture so when teenagers try to stand up straight it can be uncomfortable for them and they cannot maintain the position for long.

Good posture comes from a strong core, your abdominal muscles that wrap around the centre of the body like a corset between your ribs and pelvis.  These muscles stabilise the torso hence the best way to improve posture is to focus on a strong core.

Purely PILATES Studio Director Karen’s son Piers suffers from poor posture and has started doing 1:1 sessions to improve his core strength.  During these sessions he has practiced numerous exercises to strengthen his core and is now finding standing up straight an easier task.  His top five exercises are:

Spinal Rotation - focusing on rotating the spine and opening up the chest.
Hip Roll - focusing on mobilising the spine and opening up the hips.
Breastroke Preps - strengthening the erector spinae and helping to lengthen the upper back.
Half Rollback - strengthening the abdominals and lengthening tightness in the lumber area.
Shoulder Bridge - strengthening hamstrings and glutes, obliques and abdominals to create a base for the body.

If you are sick of saying stop slouching and think your teenager would benefit from Pilates please contact us and we can discuss how to address the issue.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The benefits of Pilates for Men

As an all female team at purely PILATES we thought we should take this months blog as an opportunity to remind our clients that Pilates is not just for us ladies! We often hear comments from men such as “Isn’t Pilates just for women?”, well…no in fact Pilates was started by a man. Joseph Pilates trained as a boxer and gymnast and practised well into his eighties. In recent years we have found a growing number of our clients are men who love Pilates not only because it is a great workout but also because it helps them in the following areas:

Increasing their game in sports such as golf, tennis, swimming and running.  Numerous Pilates exercises work and strengthen the abdominals by deepening them for maximum strength while twisting with control.  The twisting action of such exercises is key to building a killer golf swing or tennis serve. Pilates has been a training vehicle for many elite athletes who find it helps fine tune their performance, it is a well known fact that Tiger Woods has a private Pilates coach.
Six pack abdominals can be built by the slow and controlled moving core exercises that sometimes require the pose to be held for an extended period of time.  This makes for a very intense and different type of contraction for the abdominals than the usual workout men perform in the gym.  When the abdominals are trained and strengthened to activate at the level Pilates brings them to they make the body work in proper alignment.  This alignment increases how hard the rest of the body works increasing the overall impact. 

Develop often neglected muscle groups. The muscles that dominate our daily movements can be stronger than those that don’t.   Pilates helps men to focus on those muscles that don’t typically get a lot of attention in their usual gym workout.  Pilates requires exacting alignment and core training that goes beyond the superficial muscles.

Increase flexibility and prevent injury.  Women are typically 7% more flexible than men in their ligaments and tendons.  Pilates’ focus on stretching helps increase range of motion and prevent injuries and muscle strains. England rugby union star Ugo Monye who used Pilates to get over a crippling back injury commented in Men’s Fitness “A lot of athletes and rugby players are doing Pilates for prehab, preventative exercises, as opposed to rehab work after an injury’.

Better posture.  Many men spend numerous working hours behind a desk or at the wheel of their car leading to slouching and poor posture.  Pilates can help correct this problem and give relief to those suffering from back, neck or shoulder pain.

So the next time anyone suggests that Pilates is just for women you can now tell them factually why that is not the case!  

If you would like to introduce Pilates to a man in your life don’t forget if you refer a friend you receive a fantastic referral gift.  A Pilates flex band if your friend books an 8 week Mat-work course or a Pilates Overball if your friend books a One-to-One. Conditions apply.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Pilates for Pregnacy - what to expect from Pilates when your expecting.

Exercising during pregnancy is important to maintaining muscle strength, however this is not a time to be pushing your body, more a time to gently strengthen with particular focus being paid to the pelvic floor muscles.   

The main focus of a Pilates class during Pregnancy is on the maintenance of muscle tone, strength and endurance. 
As well as the general benefits of Pilates such as improved posture, prevention of injury and a reduction in back pain, there are specific pre-natal benefits

Incontinence Symptoms:
A significant 64% of women develop incontinence symptoms due to the weight of the baby on the bladder during pregnancy, and as a result of the pelvic floor being stretched or weakened during labour. The risk of incontinence can be greatly reduced by strengthening the pelvic floor. 

Pilates can help to achieve optimal fitness and health for both mother and baby during pregnancy, and for labour. Exercises that will lead to improvements in functional fitness for every day life are practiced. For example, squats leaning against a Swiss ball placed on the wall to mimic standing and sitting movements, or the ‘sidekick’ to lengthen the hip flexors and hamstring muscles, counteracting the forward tilt of the pelvis and therefore reducing back pain.

The respiratory rate naturally increases in pregnancy. There is a focus on relaxation both during pregnancy and specifically for labour by an emphasis on deep breathing patterns.  

A focus on deep breathing into the thoracic part of the spine and into the lower parts of the lungs helps to improve breathing capacity. This helps to improve circulation, decreasing the risk of blood clots, varicose veins, leg cramping and swelling. It can also assist in regulating fatigue levels, as well as improving sleep. 

The focus on breathing, the relaxing pace of a Pilates session and the sense of well-being it creates leads to improvements in mood and body image throughout pregnancy, as well as helping to cope with post-partum depression. 

Working through the trimesters:

The Pilates repertoire is adapted throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy, as changes in the body occur. In the first trimester, and indeed throughout, hormonal changes, particularly the increase of the hormone Relaxin, can result in injury or weakness in muscles and ligaments. The lower back and sacral area are most affected. Gentle stretching and mobility exercises are still included in a class but the range of movement is limited, stretches are held for shorter periods of time and the focus shifts to stability rather than flexibility.

The greatest increase in pelvic mobility and reduction of pelvic stability occur in the 20-27 week period (the latter part of the second trimester). The centre of gravity is also most altered during this stage. Stability exercises are key; working in a neutral pelvic position and strengthening the pelvic floor not only increases pelvic stability generally but also helps to avoid Symphysis Pubis Diastasis, where the pubis separates due to hormonal changes. Focus is on the support of the abdominals as a corset rather than trying ‘to flatten’. In the second trimester abdominal crunches are removed from a Pilates program because of the separation of the rectus abdominus. This occurs with the increased stretch of the abdominal wall. 

Changing exercise positions frequently is encouraged to ensure comfort throughout the session. The Pilates spine supporter is introduced after week 12 of pregnancy so that the mother can exercise lying on her back safely by being propped almost to a sitting position. It is not advisable to exercise lying fully flat due to the possibility of Supine Hypertensive Syndrome, a condition where the uterus compresses the vena cava effecting oxygen flow to both the mother and baby. 

To gain all the benefits of Pilates through pregnancy and to feel assured that the possible contraindications of pregnancy are recognised, it is important to find a class with an instructor who is specifically trained in Pregnancy Pilates and where classes are limited to a maximum of eight. A Pregnancy Pilates class will help all new mums enjoy their pregnancy to the fullest, feeling relaxed and strong in both body and mind. 
For more information or to book a taster class or course in Pregnancy Pilates at Purely Pilates Studios please contact us on:

Tel: 01273 770900
Gemma Wright, Studio Director, Purely Pilates.

What is a Pilates Reformer class?

Pilates entails a series of stretching and resistance exercises with a focus on breathing and body awareness that leads to core stability and leaner muscles. The method has an ‘all gain, no pain’ approach.

Joseph Pilates developed the Pilates method in the early 1900s as an exercise programme for First World War veterans. His original technique has now been enhanced utilising the improved knowledge we now have about the way the body works.

Through Pilates you can address your muscle imbalances, developing a ‘scaffolding’ to support your spine. As a result, your external muscles will relax and any tension will ease. 

Pilates classes take on a number of forms from group mat classes to one to one and group pregnancy classes to  reformer classes.

The reformer class is our focus on this blog update as although it is the most widely-used apparatus in pilates it is not widely known as a fitness option and we get asked many questions about what a reformer class is and what the benefits are.

So what is all the fuss about?

The reformer machine or apparatus looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys and can look quite intimidating at first sight. Trust us when we say you can put your fears aside as once you have tried a couple of reformer classes you will fall in love and realise it is one of the most effective, flexible and easy to use piece of gym apparatus ever!

The reformer class offers the opportunity to work in the reformer studio but in a class environment.
The workout is more intense and more dynamic than a mat based class as you add resistance via the use of springs which are part of the apparatus.

The springs not only add resistance but a level of support that protects you and enables you to work your muscle groups more deeply and enhance your understanding of Pilates and your own body.

The Variations of movements and excersises are endless so you will never get bored and as you develop you add a new dimension and strength to your work-out.

The reformers we use at Purely Pilates have 5 springs and the springs are very strong, using only one or two can provide gentle resistance however the intensity can be varied considerably from person to person making the class very specific to each individuals strengths and making the equipment a very versatile tool for rehabilitation and for a great workout.

For more information or to book a reformer class taster session or course contact us at Purley Pilates today.

Tel: 01273 770900

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Spring Summer Sports Fashion

What better way to get yourself excited about your new fitness regime than purchasing some bright new workout wear!

Just seeing the sun shining gave us an extra spring in our step and get excited about the new season ahead.

With London Fashion week just closing we look to our Spring Summer Sports wardrobe with excitement, the catwalks were awash with Olympic inspired gorgeous sports wear so the girls at Purely Pilates have put together a collection of our favourite looks we'll be wearing over the coming months.

Striders Edge creates beautiful and functional sportswear for women - this season they have a collection of neon bright running tops, sports bras and skins perfect for an active summer.

Sweaty Betty - an absolute favourite at Purely and loved by many of our clients have a fashion forward collection you could wear out it's so fabulous! They also often have some great bargain's to grab in their online sale section.

Here are our favourites:

Manuka have created a range of softer berry tones that you will want to cocoon yourself in all season, they have a fantastic range of sports clothing designed for Pilates.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

March courses booking up now!

Call us today to book your space on our Mat, Reformer and Pregnancy courses starting week of February 27th 01273 770900.