Let’s face it, it’s not ‘breaking news’ that many women have limited time to focus on themselves, be it due to a demanding job, caring for family, running a busy home, and just general day-to-day life. So how are you supposed to keep your pelvic health in check on top of everything else? We decided to get the low down and ask the expert.
Cue Marisa. She’s spent over twenty years as an all-inclusive Pilates teacher, offering classes to suit everyone regardless of age, gender and ability. We got Marisa to share her experience on how pilates isn’t just for the fitness fanatics and doesn’t have to be all time consuming in order for women to reap the benefits and prevent problems with their pelvic floor in the future.
Pilates is described as ‘A complete coordination of body, mind and spirit’. What
attracted you to Pilates above other forms of exercise?
Marisa: I have been in the fitness industry for some time teaching very high impact classes, but I found as I was getting older my joints wouldn’t keep up with the level of impact, so I made a decision to retrain and open my own business in Pilates which I have been teaching since 2013. My reason for choosing Pilates was because jumping around was becoming an issue for me too, from a pelvic floor point of view as well, it wasn’t just about my joints but general wear and tear on my body, pushing myself through 15-20 high impact fitness classes a week and not being able to sustain them.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Pilates?
Marisa: The biggest misconception about Pilates is that it will just be about stretching, it’s easy and not going to do much for me. Men especially have this perception; hence it tends to be more female driven. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
For example, I ensure in my classes there is a mixture of all Pilate levels, from beginner to intermediate and advanced, in a style that makes the beginner, someone who has never done pilates before, feel comfortable in doing the exercises, and as the weeks progress they can then push themselves to take on the level 2 or 3 extensions of that exercise.
For some, finding the time, inclination, or finances to exercise is a struggle, or we decide to ‘get fit’ but then soon feel disappointed when we find it hard to sustain. What do you need to get started with Pilates?
Marisa: What you really need is focus, and a little bit of motivation. You just have to take that first step through the door of a class and experience pushing your body into areas that your body hasn’t been to for perhaps years, it will feel challenging at first, but overcoming that will be rewarding.
It is also about community, finding the right instructor you are comfortable with, and the environment of the class. For many women it often starts with a search on the internet, trying something online in the privacy of their home before having the courage to go to a class, and often it’s just about finding something that is comfortable for you as an individual to get started.
Many beginners will stay away from gyms because they can feel intimidated, e.g. I’m not wearing the right gear, everyone will be looking at me etc, so it’s important to find somewhere that suits you. Even if just starting at home with some traditional pelvic floor exercises, where you are squeezing muscles in the bottom, holding it for a couple of seconds and relaxing, repeated a few times a day, which will help tremendously before they even walk out of the door to enter an environment of a gym or a class.
What impact does Pilates have on your body?
Marisa: Pilates is an integrated whole-body exercise, focusing on the core, upper body strength, lower body strength, flexibility, balance, and posture. Pilates promotes all of those things. It’s not a class designed to make you lose weight, it’s not a fat burning class, for example compared to a spin class where you may burn 600 calories in 45 minutes. In 45 minutes of pilates you will raise your heart rate, and promote full health flexibility, strength, posture, balance etc. This is especially important for those women who are sitting down in front of a screen, computer, all day, to think about our posture. Not crushing those internal organs as we hunch over. To think about pushing their shoulders back and think about their posture.
Is there a specific age group that it is more effective for?
Marisa: All ages can benefit; in some areas we are even starting to see Pilates being introduced in schools.