Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Friday, 10 June 2011
Most people have heard about the benefits of a Pilates mat workout both during and after pregnancy. Mums to be speak of improved strength in their bodies, (particularly the pelvic floor and the lumbo- pelvic region), enhanced flexibility, the focus on deep breathing and relaxation, and the ultimate benefits of an easier birth and quicker postnatal recovery. Now, however, there is an even more exciting way to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, The Pilates Reformer.
The Pilates Reformer is made up of a sliding carriage that sits on long runners and is controlled by a variety of springs and pulleys. Over 200 exercises can be performed on this superb machine targeting the whole body, from the ankles, thighs and bottom to the abdominals, shoulders and arms. For the non- pregnant Pilates exerciser the Reformer takes the mat repertoire onto the next level using spring tension to add resistance to mat movements as well as being able to challenge specific muscles more effectively. For the pregnant client it offers more specific benefits.
After the first trimester exercises in a supine position (lying flat on your back) should be avoided. This is 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. A large amount of mat exercises are performed supine and prone (lying on your front- obviously not so achievable!) meaning that a pure mat workout can become a little repetitive as the pregnancy progresses. The sheer diversity of exercises that can be performed on the Pilates Reformer means that more variety can be offered as well as enabling mums to be to feel as if they are more closely carrying on their pre pregnancy workout (with a reduction in intensity of course). For example, the Swan, an extension exercise for the spine which begins lying prone and works the upper back muscles can be replaced by the back rows seated or long stretch on all fours on the reformer, so these key muscles are still exercised. It is very important to maintain and develop strength around the shoulder girdle as lifting and carrying a new baby is a workout in itself. The Reformer workout can therefore be a key tool in preparing expectant mothers for their new role.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy create an increase in ligament laxity throughout the body and most significantly in the low back and sacral area. Therefore, long-levered, open chain exercises (with both feet off the floor) are not recommended. On the reformer, the gliding carriage allows movement through a full but carefully controlled range of motion while keeping the arms and legs grounded for a safe and effective workout. The footwork series whilst supported on the barrel is a great way to work the core and legs whilst in a closed chain. This series of exercises is performed with the feet resting on the foot bar then bending and straightening the legs in a squat type movement. As circulation and blood flow can be affected in pregnancy this footwork works wonders for tightness and cramping in the lower legs, reducing varicose veins and swelling.
Posture and Stability
Prenatal Pilates on the Reformer also increases postural awareness while strengthening the periphery. During pregnancy the body changes daily. As the baby grows, it’s added weight can pull the lumbo-pelvic region into an exaggerated curve (an arching of the lower back) affecting the centre of gravity and balance. As the breasts increase in size, the thoracic and cervical spinal curves can also become more exaggerated. As these curves increase, so does the stress on the surrounding muscles and joints. A no impact regime, a Pilates Reformer workout places emphasis on restoring the spine’s natural curves and on improving stability and mobility in the lumbo-pelvic region. There is a focus on strengthening the thoracic extensors and lengthening the chest muscles to counteract the increased curves in the upper part of the back. Each exercise session on the reformer redefines what ideal alignment looks and feels like for each participant. Once that is established, the reformer exercises will effectively strengthen and support the body through all phases of the pregnancy.
Gemma Wright, Studio Director, Purely Pilates.
For further advice or information please contact the Purely Pilates Studio,
Tel: 01273 770900
Testimonial Pre natal Pilates on the Reformer:
‘I really had no idea what to expect, but was rather surprised to be presented with the reformer. This piece of equipment looks rather alarming with a number of straps, pulleys and bars, all arranged on an individual couch. Of course not being on the floor has had its obvious advantages with my expanding girth, but in addition to this it allows you to work on the desired muscle groups under control, with an appropriate resistance. It is a piece of equipment that really allows all muscle groups to be exercised, even when pregnant. I have found the reformer easy to use and have enjoyed the pregnancy Pilates classes enormously. At no point have I found the classes to be too strenuous or causing any pressure to me or my bump. I would very much like to return to classes as soon as possible after the birth of my baby, and look forward to a more vigorous reformer workout in the future.’
Sue Ellery, Consultant Cardiologist, Brighton.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Our new Reformer classes are proving a huge success. We started with just 5 classes in January and due to demand have already had to add a further three classes to meet demand. The reformer is a great way to take a Pilates mat class onto a new level and really start to feel results. Fiona started a session with us in January and says " I can feel the difference already in my muscle tone especially in my bottom and thighs. It's fantastic!"
For those of you who play sport and need a stronger, more resistance based workout this workout would be a great addition to your training program. Guaranteed to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.
We still have a few spaces left on courses so give us a call if you'd like us to reserve you a slot.
Pilates is fast becoming the exercise program for expectant mums, due to its benefits in terms of strength, flexibility and relaxation.
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 method in the early 1900s as an exercise program for First World War veterans. His original technique has now been enhanced utilizing the improved knowledge we now have about the way the body works.
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.
The main focus of a Pilates class during Pregnancy is on the maintenance of muscle tone, strength and endurance. This is not a time to be pushing your body, more a time to gently strengthen. Particular focus is paid to the pelvic floor muscles. 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. All Pilates exercises will work to strengthen this important muscle, from swimming in a four point kneeling position to seated exercises such as alternate leg lifts on the Swiss Ball.
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.
There is a focus on relaxation both during pregnancy and specifically for labour by an emphasis on deep breathing patterns. The respiratory rate naturally increases in pregnancy. The diaphragm is elevated due to its changes in the rib cage placement, which may increase oxygen consumption by 15-20%. This increase makes the body work harder to deliver appropriate levels of oxygen to the developing foetus, which in turn alters the availability of oxygen to the woman, resulting in a sense of breathlessness. 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. Postnatal benefits are a quicker recovery of body shape and muscle tone after the birth.
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.
Gemma Wright, Studio Director, Purely Pilates.
Monday, 24 January 2011
Thanks to everyone who came along to our open morning on Saturday. We had 13 full Reformer and Mat Master classes running all morning offering people the chance to try out our fantastic new studio and try Pilates for the first time.
We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to seeing you in a class soon.
Call now to book your class 01273 770900
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Join us on Saturday 22nd January for the opening of our new Reformer/ Specialist Programs Studio and Free taster sessions
Book your space early to avoid disappointment, as numbers are limited. Our specialist Pregnancy/ Young at Heart team will be on hand to answer any questions on these new sessions so if you have a friend who may be interested in joining bring them along! Remember that you can take advantage of our Refer a Friend offer and win a fantastic Pilates gift. Tea and coffee will be available all morning so we look forward to seeing you then.
Saturday 22nd January Timetable
12.30- 13.15 Karen
Mat Master classes
08.30-09.15 Fitness Circle Fiona
11.30-12.15 Taster Mat Gemma
12.30-13.15 Foam Roller Andrea
Call 01273 770900 to book