Wednesday 2 January 2019

Barre Classes

We are running a number of weekly Barre classes from 14th January. Barre classes mix elements of Pilates, dance and functional training. The moves are choreographed to motivating music. In each energising and targeted workout, you will use the Barre, plus exercise equipment such as mini-balls and small hand weights to sculpt, slim and stretch your entire body.
Barre fitness is ideal if you're just getting into exercise. The classes will improve your balance, build strength, make you more flexible, burn calories and improve stability through a stronger core.  As you get more comfortable and fitter, you can increase the intensity by adding extra weights and more challenging moves.
Can you lose weight from Barre classes?
Yes. Barre is a challenging whole body workout designed to strengthen and tone all muscles of the body. It Increases muscle tone, stimulates your metabolism and enhances body awareness—all factors in weight loss.
Is Barre good for Toning?
Barre will help you build and strengthen your muscles, improve your core strength & posture and give your body a lean and toned look.  Unlike regular Pilates, Barre incorporates aerobics into each workout to strengthen your cardiovascular system and help you burn more calories.
What do I wear / bring to a Barre Class?
· Something to tie you hair if it is long
· Normal top / bottom, but no shorts
· A sports bra if you don’t want to jiggle
· Sticky Socks
· Water Bottle
 You can find the new Barre class times on our website.

Thursday 29 November 2018

Pilates for Running

Whether you are a competitive runner or weekend jogger trying to shed a few pounds, there is no doubt that running is an easy way to keep in great cardiovascular shape. But your body can take a beating. This is especially true if it develops asymmetries.

Body asymmetries develop because of poor body mechanics, causing certain muscles to become      overused (common in runners), while other muscles become underused. This can result in a variety of issues from lower back pain to hip and knee problems. It can also lead to a wide variety of tears, strains and pulls.

Pilates exercises create a stronger, more flexible spine and core, and also promote faster recovery from strains or injuries. For a runner, posture is one of the key ingredients to success; and posture is very    dependent on a strong core. Pilates develops a strong core by supporting and strengthening the muscles of the torso, hips shoulders and pelvis. These lead to a positive difference in your posture, technique,   balance and stability. It enables you to focus on where your head and neck are in relation to the spine and pelvis, on down through the legs and toes. This all adds up to more efficient movement and less chance of injury.

Pilates exercises will:
· Build up the back muscles evenly
· Elongate and align the spine for better stability
· Expand the diaphragm
· Increase overall flexibility, strength, and balance
· Increase range of motion in hips and shoulders
· Enhance concentration through focussed breathing
· Provide more upright running
· Help bodies recover faster from injuries

Performance Benefits. A stronger and more stable core helps a runner:

· Run more efficiently uphill with a stabilized musculature
· Run more efficiently downhill with a stronger and more balanced sciatic area
· Experience less tightening of the neck, head and shoulders
· Increase oxygenation and stamina with a diaphragm that is able to fully expand
· Focus on proper movement with better kinaesthetic (physical) awareness
· Decrease fatigue because of less strain on the body
· Shave seconds off your times because you move more efficiently
· Run without pain!

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was a sickly child but was determined to make himself strong and healthy. He researched and practised every kind of exercise, from classical    Roman and Greek exercise regimes to body-building and gymnastics. He also practised the Eastern    disciplines of yoga, tai chi, martial arts and Zen meditation. Additionally, he studied anatomy and animal movements. He sampled every kind of exercise that he could and carefully recorded the results.

During 1912, Joe left Germany for England, where he became a professional boxer and circus acrobat.  At the outbreak of WW I, Joe was interned as an enemy alien at Lancaster then the Isle on Man. During his internment, he refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. Working as a nurse, he rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. After his release, Joe returned to Germany where he developed and enhanced his reputation further as a physical trainer and healer.

During 1923, Joe moved to America.  He opened his first studio in New York along with Clara, his wife and assistant.  His new method was an instant hit, particularly among dancers who found the Pilates method the best way to recover from injuries and prevent their recurrence. A wider audience got to hear of the method, which Joe originally called Controlology. Thanks to his self-confidence and  America’s growing interest in physical fitness, Joe’s teachings began to catch on to the wider market. He taught in his New York studio from 1926 until his death in 1967. Clara carried on teaching for a further 10 years.

Joe left no will and no designated line of succession for the Pilates work to carry on. But his legacy has continued to live on to this day thanks to the Pilates Elders; Joe’s first generation and original students of Pilates. They used and mastered his techniques before forming their own studios to teach the Pilates Method.  In turn, this has proliferated into a large number of Pilates schools & brands world-wide.

Pilates Returns to the UK
During the late 1960’s, an English gentleman named Alan Herdman, was asked by the London School of Contemporary Dance to visit New York to investigate the methods of Joseph Pilates. Alan returned in 1970 to set up the UK’s first-ever Pilates studio. Today, Alan is a global Pilates luminary. Keeley met him a few years ago on a training course and has received personal coaching at his London studios on a number of occasions since.  Alan is quite selective about sharing contact details, but during their first meeting he gave Keeley a hand-written scrap of paper with his phone number and email address.

That little scrap of paper is one of Keeley’s most treasured Pilates possessions!

The Core - what is it?

Many of you are aware that I’m a bit of an anatomy geek – which I am actually very proud of!  I thought it may be useful to explain a little more about what the core is, and how the muscles should all interact with each other.

The concept of core training was developed by physical therapists looking for a new way to treat clients with lower back problems.  I’m sure some of you can remember experiencing back pain, along time ago, and where told to take bed rest!  And not surprisingly, this method of treatment wasn’t very successful.

The earliest resource on how the muscles of the core work together was published back in 1978 and was called “clinical biomechanics of the Spine.”  For the first time it was proposed that the abdominal muscles and the back muscles worked as partners to stabilise the spine, when the body was in a neutral position (sound familiar anybody).  Over the years, this methodology has expanded to include other muscles that contribute to the stabilisation of the spine. The modern-day core consists of 4 muscles:

1) Transversus abdominus – abdominal muscle.
2) Multifidi – back muscle.
3) Diaphragm.
4) Pelvic floor.

It is useful to think of these muscles creating a cylinder inside your body.  This is your inner unit.

Transversus abdominus – this is your deepest abdominal muscle, that wraps around the torso connecting the ribs to the pelvis.  It continues around your back and attaches to the connective tissue of the lower back. Its role is to draw in like a corset and narrow the waist.
Multifidi – are small muscles that look like little chevrons on your spine. They connect one vertebrae to another, sometimes three to four (or more) levels above. These are surrounded by the connective tissue of the lower back.

When the Transversus abdominus shortens (when you pull the abdominals in) it creates tension on the connective tissue of the lower back. The connective tissue acts like a sausage skin, with the Multifidi being the filling. The Multifidi reacts to being squeezed and creates a stabilising force on the joints between the vertebrae. It creates space between the vertebrae which is called decompression.

So, these two muscles are the front and back of your abdominal cylinder – but what about the top and bottom?

The top and bottom of the cylinder are the diaphragm and pelvic floor. Think of these two muscles as jelly fish, floating up and down with each other. In the ideal scenario, these two muscles react to how the core is working and also co-exist with each other. 

The diaphragm moves up on an exhale and allows the Transversus abdominus to react like a corset. This is why a lot of our Pilates moves are done on an exhale. The latest research shows that the diaphragm and the pelvic floor react to how the deep abdominals stabilise the spine, so they have a strong role in supporting the vertebral column.

I hope this has helped you to think of the inner unit in a slightly different way.

Osteoporosis and Pilates

I was recently lucky to go on an Osteoporosis course with a lady called Rebekah Rotstein.  Rebekah is an ambassador for American Bone Health and is a respected authority on the subject. She has developed a system called Buff Bones.

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. In the UK, 3 million people have Osteoporosis, with over 500,00 fractures every year. That’s 1 bone broken every minute or 1,400 a day!  Sadly these numbers are on the increase, due to many factors. Statistically 1 out of every 2 women will suffer a fracture, 1 in every 5 men. Indeed, everyone will start to lose bone mass after the age of 35, which is why we need to protect our bones.

There are three common sites where a fracture is most likely to occur: the hip; the spine; and the wrist.

How can Pilates help?
As you are aware, the inner unit helps to hold the spine in a position that decompresses the spine. The “neutral” position of the spine / pelvis, is part of this system. 

So why do we need a different Pilates class for Osteoporosis?
There are certain moves, that we incorporate into a Pilates class, that are not of benefit for someone with Osteoporosis. This is because they could put pressure on potential fracture sites. These are primarily anything that flexes the spine forward, for example abdominal curls. Plus, potentially anything that side bends the spine, especially if someone has already had a fracture.
So why Buff Bones?

What I love about the Buff Bones system if that it is medically endorsed and its design is supported by the latest research. It incorporates elements of Pilates and other modalities that help to promote an increase in bone density. These are:

· Weight bearing.
· Resistance.
· Impact.

Additionally, I welcome that this is a progressive system (you know what I’m like for progression). So, the Buff Bones systems does develop into a challenging workout over time.

The Outer Unit

The Outer Unit – what is it and how does it help us move better?
When I went on my first Master Instructor training, I was introduced to the concept of how “groups” of muscles assist the core.  These groups help provide dynamic stabilisation (support in moving spinal exercises, Pilates exercises and every day life).  Plus, also providing Lumbopelvic stability, which is the ability to completely stabilise the pelvis in neutral.  My mind was blown and a whole new world of understanding was opened.

There are four groups of muscles in the outer unit: Deep Longitudinal System; Anterior Oblique Sling System; Posterior Oblique Sling System; and Lateral System.

The four systems work together to provide balanced three-dimensional movement and integrate the whole body to move as one. They work as a team to balance out movements of the spine or support of the spine. This month we’re going to focus on the Deep Longitudinal System and the Posterior Oblique Sling System.  As they definitely function together, but not in isolation to the other two.

Deep Longitudinal System

This group runs from the back of your skull, down your spine and splits at the buttocks.  In continues down the back of the legs and ends up on the sole of your foot.  Imagine that its two columns of support along the whole back body.

Posterior Oblique Sling System
This group runs from just under your shoulder-blade, across to the opposite buttock area.  Imagine it’s a band or sash running from one side of your back to the other.

When would you use the system in a Pilates Class?
When we start a class, we normally start in standing, so I can assess your alignment. The Deep Longitudinal System is key to help with an upright posture. Sometimes I might ask you to put your hand behind your head whilst standing. This is to activate this system.

As this system runs down the whole of your back body, then obviously any of the Swan series we do (extension), then this system is a key contributor to this action.  Also, your Posterior Oblique Sling would be helping in the action too.  In this case, both sides of each system would be working at the same time – so what happens if only one side is active?

When only one side of these systems is working, it will produce either side bending (lateral flexion) or twisting (rotation).  We have a lot of movements that have these movement patterns, predominantly in seated.  Think Seated Side Stretch, Saw and Spine Twist – these systems are instrumental to these movement patterns. 

This is why sometimes you feel less movement in one direction that the other.  One of these systems could be more dominant than the other. 

I hope you enjoyed my anatomy geek section.  Next time I’ll talk about the other two systems and how they relate to each other.