Two of the most common questions I get asked is how often should I practice Pilates and why can't I do this exercise. I hope to clear this up in todays blog post and equip you with some simple ways to incorporate pilates in to your daily life.
When planning our classes we aim to cover movements in as many planes as possible. We know everyone loves ab movements so we always throw in a bit of this for good measure but we also want to make this functional so you can feel your core working in more functional movements rather than just when you lie on the floor with your legs in table top. When changing the exercises to provide a greater challenge, such as balance, it can start to get quite tricky. It no longer requires you to think only of your stomach muscles but to rely on your proprioception, ankle stability, general leg and glute strength, core and motor skills.
The simple answer to why some people may find this more challenging than others is... how often do you do it? To get better at anything you have to practice it. For example if you want to get better at running you have to practice running. Pilates can help build up strength outside of your run to prevent injuries but to actually improve the distance or style of your running you have to start at whatever your current level is eg I can run 1km and gradually build it from there. It really is as easy as that!
So the same principle applies with your pilates practice. If you are attending one pilates session a week and not practicing on your own, you will improve but it will take a lot longer. If you are someone that is active outside of classes eg walks, runs, strength training or any other number of activities that are available, that is great! But it won't necessarily help you do a full roll back in pilates unless you practice it.
So why should you do more Pilates?
Aside from being a pilates instructor that thinks Pilates is amazing and everyone should be doing it, there is some science to go along with my thinking.
According to the current science available, we should all be doing around 150 minutes of exercise that gets us slightly out of breath and 2 strength sessions per week (1). As we age it is also important to add in flexibility and coordination challenges. So, the key messages are to do exercise that challenges your cardiovascular system, your strength and provides a cognitive element.
Pilates definitely provides a cognitive challenge, it generally includes balance work and depending on the type of exercise you choose to do, it also works on strength. So if Pilates is your favourite type of exercise to do, if you combine fast paced walking or some cardio based movements into your workout eg jumping, skipping, running then you can improve you cardiovascular ability. When using either the reformer in a private session or the mat in classes or privates and you struggle by the last rep then it is improving your strength and all the movements in pilates in one way or another contribute to flexibility and mobility, therefore helping you to hit all the exercise targets and some!
How often should I be doing Pilates?
In my opinion the more frequently you practice Pilates, as with anything, the quicker you get results. There is risk of over training as muscles do require rest to allow them to recover but mixing up your sessions with classes and 10minute workouts to get your body moving will help you to build strength and long lasting results.
In the book Return to Life Through Contrology written by Joseph Pilates (2) , he suggests that the best results are achieved by practicing his method at least four times per week. Results have also been gained by doing Pilates just twice per week over a 20 week period (3), so there really is no right and wrong.
The most important thing is making Pilates fit your schedule rather than the other way around, this will lead to you being more consistent and allows you the opportunity to do other types of exercise. In recent classes many members have started upping their Pilates by doing one or two classes a week in person and a few sessions through our online platform. This provides structure as they have a workout to follow and from the feedback I have received they have all felt such huge benefits since increasing the amount they do. I can also see the quality of their movement has massively increased and their understanding of the exercise is incredible.
In short, if you would like to practice more Pilates and reap even more of the benefits I would recommend adding an extra class per week, checking out our on demand platform or getting in touch with us.