This week has been a strange for me. Due to a slow season for my type of work, we were given the entire week off work this week. It has been strange not having to wake up or having to get out the door at a certain time. Despite my efforts to continue with my normal sleeping routine, it seems my body or rather my mind knows I do not have work and tries to sneak itself more hours of sleeping. At first I was frustrated but then decided that as long as I didn’t completely mess up my sleeping schedule that I wouldn’t stress myself out too much.
I wanted to enjoy the time I had off, not just be stressed about not working or silly things. I looked at this free amount of time as an opportunity to catch up on some things I had been neglecting due to a shortage of time, friends included! So when one friend from college messaged me if we could hang out I couldn’t imagine what perfect timing she had! Since I am focusing on saving and budgeting in order to pay off my loans by June I wasn’t too excited to spend money on the usual, “let’s meet for lunch,” or something. As I scattered my brain to think of fun, free ways we could hang out I decided on the gym first, naturally. She agreed after I told her I could take her to the LA Fitness near by for free with my visitors pass. Another bulb went off in my head that we should take a group fitness class together to make it a fun outing! I love group fitness classes and have made it a goal to make it to them on a monthly basis. So I googled search the LA Fitness class schedule at the location near where she lived and saw Pilates.
I had never taken Pilates before, and hadn’t really known what it involved. I heard people associate it with Yoga a lot, although those who had taken both always claimed that Pilates was far more challenging. I was quite nervous to be honest because my balance is horrible, and I still struggle with yoga many times. Yet, I was excited to try a new type of workout.
What is Pilates?
Basically what I absorbed about Pilates was that it is heavily focused on the use of your transverse abdominal muscles, which aid your spine in both form and posture. The instructor warned us that a majority of the class would focus on working our backs, core, and glutes. She explained that Pilates was nothing like Yoga, although there is a great emphasis on your breathing in both. However, throughout this class the instructor told us to focus on maintaining our breathing within the lower parts of our rib cages rather than puffing out our chest to breathe. I actually noticed quite a difference in breathing this way. The keys words here for Pilates breathing were flexion, which referred to exhaling and extension which referred to inhaling.
After she explained the benefits of Pilates I thought to myself, “Strength, flexibility, and good posture through the use of our core and back muscles!?” I knew that these were all areas that I was weak in. I have horrible posture, which makes my back weak in its ability to hold myself up and balance. This was only further assured in my need to mostly do the modified versions of the workout moves.
Final Thoughts on Pilates
My favorite part of the class was that it was a GREAT workout for engaging my core! I really felt it during the moves and the day after too. As someone who has almost no balance and struggles in yoga as it is, I didn’t find this class to be overly challenging as how I initially pictured it. Although some of the moves I had to move real slowly or do only a few reps, I definitely didn’t think anything was impossible.
The one move that really had my core burning was “The 100.” A move where you lie on your back with legs straight out. You then lift your shoulders, neck, and chin off the floor with arms straight out to sides, pulsing your arms up and down nonstop for (yep!) 100 counts, where you exhale for five and inhale for five. You can check out this video for demonstration.
I definitely enjoyed the class and change in my workout routine. I wish the gyms near me had Pilates available, but sadly I haven’t really seen it on the schedule. After taking this class I would definitely like to throw it in my workout schedule if possible. I feel that this type of course can really help strengthen the areas I know I need to work on, my back muscles, core strength, balance, posture, and flexibility.
If anyone knows any great Pilates leaders who do at home workouts I would love recommendations! I will be looking further into Pilates as well as other ways to increase my balance and flexibility.
Looking For Balance?
I feel it so important to find balance and hold a strong, tall posture. Our posture enables us to stand tall and avoids great strain on our backs. Through balance we are able to maintain great posture and find strength in not only our body but soul and mind as well. I hope to start focusing more on these points in my fitness and look forward to trying some great exercise moves that I can add to my routines to increase balance.
See below for the moves I found via Fix.com. These definitely look challenging, but I think that is the point with balance!
Source: Check out Fix.com for more ways to improve your balance!
Have you tried Pilates before?
How do you feel about your own balance?
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