Lisa with Rach, Suna Pilates instructor 
Standing, Walking, Breathing. These are all things we do everyday and don't really think about actually how we do it. 
Watch Video here and find out what the huffing and puffng is all about
But as I discovered at my recent trip to trial a Suna Pilates class at the newly opened studio in Whagaparoa, I was doing them all wrong! Or at least not in the most efficient way.

I thought Pilates was going to be something like Yoga. You know, alot of stretching, holding body positions and being very Ommmmm.

But to my surprise Pilates is very similar to the normal exercise I would give my clients but Pilates makes you do it alot more slowly as the aim is to initiate the core before any other movement in that exercise.

The introductory session focused on posture and breathing. I know, sounds simple eh.  Everybody stands and breathes, and most of us have done it most of our lives.  But we aren't doing it to our maximum benefit. I know I have the worst posture, I slouch when I stand or sit, which I think attributes to my bad lower back, hips and knees.

 Sample Image  So in this class taken by Suzie, who apparently is the Pilates guru about town, showed us some pointers on how to correct even the way we stand.  She said most women stand and walk with our feet slightly pointed outwards, which automatically tracks our knees and hips outwards...which attributes to some of our back and knee problems.  I think she was talking about me!
Suzie said it all comes down to controlling your posture, then gave us this exercise to do.  You could try it at home to see if it makes a difference to you.  I know it did to me.  Firstly stand with your feet pointed straight forward.  At first you feel abit pidgeon toed as you're not used to 'track' your legs like that.  Then pretend you have a tattoo on the inside of your thighs which you're trying to squeeze outwards to the front. Automatically you'll feel your butt clenching. At the same time you should also try and flex your transverse abs which is above your pubic bone so that your pelvis is pointed under.  So hard to describe! but hope you know what I mean. 

Since that class I've been practicing standing and walking with my feet straighter.  Sure makes a difference to how my knees feel.  I'd also been concentrating on contracting my transverse abs abit more and remembering not to slouch!  I've transferred this to the gym too, especially squats.  Before I even squat down I contract my abs. Then as I'm pushing upwards, I push my knees outwards which make my butt squeeze more and the weight is actually easier to push up...and it saves my back.

No, not sore belly. Breathing!
The other biggie with Pilates is breathing. When to breathe and when to breathe out is at the core of Pilates - no pun intended - but was pretty good one!  Suzie got us to do an exercise which I at first I felt abit of a dork doing, but in line of duty, I did it.  She got us to take a deep breathe then we had to let out a big SSShhhhhhhhh for as long as we can.  We sounded like a Librarian workers convention!
After the 6th Shhh I was feeling quite hot and my heart was racing. Which was the idea apparently and we were told breathing is a great way to increasing metabolism - afterall you're getting more oxygen into your system.  Have you ever seen a fat deep sea diver?  they hold their breathes for a long time.   Anyway that's abit lateral isn't it?

One exercise I'd been doing for a long time is the swissball hamstring curls but it was highlighted to me at Pilates that I'd totally forgotten to breathe properly while I've been doing it.  Well ofcourse I'd been breathing but breathing and letting go of my breathe at the right part.  Rach, an instructor, reminded me how to do it and it brought back the pain oh so differently.  The key to pilates is to first lock in the core on your in breathe, then as you breathe out, do the contraction.

So in this case, my breathe would be held when my legs are straight out then I'd release my breath then curl the ball in. Ofcourse I was always reminded again to do it alot slower than what I had been.
 The class covered other aspects of posture, breathing and other exercises using a cable apparatus which made it a very busy class!  I learned alot and it reminded me how slack I've been at initiating my core.  I think Pilates would be a good compliment to any fitness girl (or guy)'s fitness regime as it makes you work on those smaller muscle groups you tend to forget about when you're going to hard with your weight training.

This is the simple intrepretation but if you're interested in how its done, you should do a class whether it be with Suna Pilates in Takapuna or Whangaparoa - or at a studio near you.

Lisa, Go Figure
26 Jan 09

  Click here to see a Pilates move done on the swissball to work your abductors and glutes by Rach
left: Rach with the abductor exercise 

You can also check out the Sample Image site here

Suna Pilates is located at 1/65 Karepiro Drive, Stanmore Bay, Whangaparoa. 09 424 8752

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