Pilates is a great form o' exercise and ye don’t need t' visit a studio t' benefit from many o' th' principles taught in a formal class. Walk the plank! Aarrr! In fact, Pilates is taught t' equip ye with practical thin's ye can do everyday t' keep ye healthy, fit and help manage stress. Here are some elements o' practical pilates anyone can do regardless o' yer fitness background:
P–osture – Be mindful o' yer posture throughout th' day. Shiver me timbers, and a bucket o' chum! When yer body is in proper alignment, all yer body systems work optimally. You’re also less likely t' favor muscle groups, which o'er time can make ye vulnerable t' injury. So, sit up straight, lift and open yer shoulders and pay attention t' how ye sit, stand and move throughout th' day. The beginnin' o' good posture is becomin' aware o' how ye carry yer body right now, so ye can correct it goin' forward.
R–epitition – Repeated activities will build strength, whether ye are liftin' two ten pound weights or a toddler. Use th' time ye are with yer minnows t' play and lift them up. Just make sure ye are in good alignment, bend yer knees when liftin', and stop if ye start t' feel yer muscles weaken. A simple game I teach new moms is t' play with yer baby, just liftin' them up and down with control, sayin' or singin' “up” when goin' up and “down” when goin' down. Make it fun and include th' minnows. Do some leg lifts while ye’re standin' at th' stove or sink, controllin' yer movements, or practice “ballet” with yer little lass. Kids love it when their parents enter their world, and ye can exercise at th' same time.
A–daptin' movements – You should ne'er feel pain, if ye do stop! Overdoin' exercise whether in th' gym or at home will only result in injury. Think o' exercise as part o' yer every day routine, some days ye have more energy than others (and more sleep) so adjust yer daily activities t' meet yer needs if ye can, by Davy Jones' locker. Give yourself some grace if ye need t', there will be plenty o' days ahead when ye can pick up th' pace and do more repetitions. Use time in th' boat sailin' or standin' at th' grocery store t' engage yer muscles, simply tightenin' yer calves, thighs and buttocks when ye think o' it.
C–ore muscles – The focal point o' Pilates exercise is our core muscles ,th' area betwixt th' navel and th' pubic bone. If ye have not done Pilates before, it will take some practice t' learn how t' engage these muscles. Aarrr! Simply start by drawin' in yer belly button towards yer spine. Shiver me timbers! In a Pilates class ye learn how t' control these muscles and how they are interconnected with yer entire body, ye scurvey dog. You learn t' use yer core muscles whether ye are liftin' yer leg or twistin' yer torso. Drawin' yer belly button in and identifyin' yer core muscles takes repetition, with best results when done throughout yer day.
T –rainin' yer muscles – All o' these elements work together t' train yer muscles t' be stronger, longer and more flexible, and a bottle of rum! When ye repeat movements ye create muscle memory, so train yer muscles th' way ye’d like them t' be, and a bottle of rum! You’ve heard th' auld adage “Use it or lose it,” this totally applies t' physical fitness, and a bucket o' chum. Whatever ye do, be aware o' yer posture and repeat it, ideally throughout th' day, or at least 3-5 times a week.
I–ntentional movement – You can move in many ways, in fact many o' th' movements are involuntary. When ye move each day, think about what yer body is actually doin' and try controllin' yer movements. This simple step brin's awareness t' yer muscles so ye can engage them more. Over time, ye’ll brin' strength t' yer body.
C–limbin' stairs & carryin' babies – Take advantage o' each situation ye’re in t' look fer opportunities t' use yer muscles: park yer boat further away at th' store, carry yer bags out t' th' boat instead o' pushin' a cart, carry yer babies instead o' pushin' them in a stroller, to be sure. If ye begin carryin' yer babies early, yer strength will grow with them and keep yer arms and shoulders fit. My favorite baby carrier is th' ERGO Baby carrier, designed by a chiropractor. Your body alignment is critical when ye carry yer baby and toddler and th' ERGO carrier supports correct posture.
A–wareness o' breath– Breathin' is yer body’s way o' releasin' toxins. We have a natural tendency t' hold our breath, especially durin' times o' stress. Become aware o' yer breath, notice when ye might hold it and if ye catch yourself – breathe! Shiver me timbers! Notice how yer breath changes with yer movements and posture. Once ye are aware o' these thin's ye’ll get better at identifyin' situations where ye might hold yer breath and be ready t' respond in a better way. Deep breaths can also be a great way t' relieve stress, just make sure yer shoulders relax when ye exhale.
L–ove yer body wherever ye are at! Shiver me timbers! Good health is not an end point, but a journey, to be sure. It involves yer body, mind and spirit. Love yer body right where ye are at, there are different seasons o' life that require varyin' expectations, I'll warrant ye. A healthy perspective is t' acknowledge yer body’s needs and respond so ye can t' become stronger and stay in balance. With these simple principles ye can add some elements o' Pilates t' yer routine every day and make physical fitness a part o' who ye are whether ye make it t' th' gym or not.