So I want you to think about this: you came to Pilates about five years ago with lower back pain or some other ailment that was preventing you from the daily activities you enjoyed. Frustrated and bewildered by Pilates you persevered for the first month or so, not really having any clue why you were doing some of the things you were doing. Most likely, you enjoyed that often you got to lie down and breathe for an hour... it helped you relax. Your instructor was kind, she/he was encouraging and helped you understand why your back was giving you grief. Soon you found yourself moving more freely as the pain subsided and eventually disappeared completely. Eureka! You were cured and you loved your instructor and Pilates for helping you with that. You began singing the praises of Pilates and vowed to attend every week to ensure the upkeep of your newly found mobility and freedom in your spine.
Five years on you remain a committed Pilates enthusiast…mostly. You attend once a week when there are no social plans or you aren’t attending to childrens’ or grandchildrens’ busy after school schedules. You’ve done your time and yet somehow you feel like you should be fitter, stronger, more progressed? So why is it that after five years of Pilates you’re not hanging upside down from the Trapeze in a Spread Eagle? What has gotten in the way of that type of progress?
Are you truly getting the most out of your Pilates classes by coming once a week? If its maintenance you are after; a reset button to help you get through the 7 days left until you go back again, this might be enough for you. But if you are looking for improvement in your body or development in your Pilates practice, is once a week really enough? Here are four reasons why upping your Pilates attendance is going to improve the rest of your life.
1. Your body remembers what your mind forgets…
Your body is an intelligent vessel for processing and holding information. Have you ever gotten into the car and driven for half an hour only to realize later you don’t recall how you got there? When the frontal cortex (the CEO of our brain) goes into autopilot, somehow your musculo-skeletal system still knows how to drive the car and where to go. This is because the process has been patterned into your body; it has gone from being explicit information (that was instructed or taught to you) to implicit information (stuff you just know). Explicit verses Implicit learning is the first reason why more time in the Pilates studio is going to make a noticeable difference to your life. The more time you can spend breathing, using imagery and receiving tactile (hands on) information to learn about your movement ability and postural alignment, the more likely it will stick. Because implicit information occurs in the brain stem (which we use unconsciously) not the frontal cortex (where we decide what to do) it creates longer lasting memory in the body. Not only does implicit information stay with you longer, it also doesn’t disappear when you are stressed or when you are tired.
2. You get to vary your routine…
Committing to Pilates attendance more than once a week allows the space for you to vary your routine, and work towards your goals. It’s important to listen to your body and do exercises that help it to feel rejuvenated. However, if you continuously come in sore from sitting at a desk all day and then spend 30 minutes releasing on a foam roller or spiky ball, you never allow yourself the opportunity to progress beyond that. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good spiky ball massage, but allowing myself one session of release and activation of my deep core muscles a week, means that a few days later I can condense that same session into the first 15 minutes of my class and then get on with some exciting movement based stuff. Coming more often is also more realistic for goal setting. Goal setting is an excellent tool for seeing and tracking your own progress. If you arrive at Pilates with something in your mind that you really want to achieve, both you and your instructor have a clear understanding of how to build the stepping stones towards achieving that goal.
3. The 1 : 167 hours per week rule…
My ballet teacher use to say to me “one hour of ballet a day implementing good posture is not going to balance out the other 23 hours a day of bad posture.” She was right. If I truly wanted any significant change, I had to be able to carry my good posture into my daily activities. Remembering to do this during my busy days only came with practice. This is just basic maths and unfortunately no matter how l sugar coat it, the truth remains: 1 hour of Pilates per week is not going to give you enough practice to see any real change. Sure, you will feel elongated and strong after your session but by the time you go in 7 days later, you are back to square one. You could compare it to being on hamster wheel; don’t you want to get off and see what else there is to explore? Once you nail the basics in Pilates, it opens you up to a world of challenge and possibility. The basis of the Pilates Method is to help you find balance in your body, allowing you to move freely and to your maximum potential in any direction you wish. But you’ve got to nail the basics, and that takes more than one hour a week of implicit learning.
4. You will feel fantastic….
I could go on for hours about all the scientific reasons why doing more Pilates is going to change your life, but the bottom line: it is going to make you feel fantastic. Take a moment to imagine how you feel at the end of your session each week. Connected...lengthened...energized...invigorated. How does doing Pilates impact on the rest of your day? Can you imagine taking that feeling and prolonging it or even recreating it? The more you do your Pilates, the more present you will become, the more body awareness you will build, the more you will feel confident to push and challenge yourself, the fitter your body will be and the better you will feel in your everyday life! It’s a beautifully, viciously addictive cycle.
So next time you head into your Pilates studio remember my motto;
Once for maintenance, twice for development, three times if you want to fly! (Spread Eagle on the Trapeze Table style!)
If you want to find out more about how to goal set for your Pilates, or to book in for a second session with Ash (or any of our other instructors) you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9429 6448.