pilates for balance and strengthEach day we utilize our body’s ability to balance (maintain a controlled body position), yet we rarely train it specifically during exercise. The skill of balance is essential in all kinds of functional movement – from walking to riding a bicycle! Using pilates for balance and strength can lower the risk of falls, especially in older adults, by focusing on the fundamental benefits of pilates: strength, stability, flexibility, posture, and breathing.

As we age, we can become less stable on our feet. This means that older adults in particular need to consider ways to improve balance to avoid falls that may lead to serious injury. It is imperative that we keep moving and keep our sedentary ways to a minimum, otherwise over time our ability to balance will decrease significantly. Practising pilates for balance and strength regularly is a great way to ensure we remain stable, especially for the over 60s, as it is low impact yet still highly effective at strengthening the core muscles, which aid in balance.

Balance is also especially important in many sports, from gymnastics to surfing to skiing. It has been shown that training that challenges balance can increase performance and decrease chances of injury – making it a useful tool for athletes and an excellent addition to sport-specific exercise programmes, as regular practise improves core muscular strength and control.

The following movements can be used to help develop balance and strength and can be done at home or with Chris in the studio:

BRIDGE:

Bridges work the gluteus maximus, which supports your body and helps it stand up straight, as well as using the muscles which propel the body forwards. When we balance on one leg, the glutes are engaged. To work them, lie on your back and bend your knees. Carefully lift your glutes up, hold briefly and then lower back to the ground.

SQUATS:

Squats are one of the most functional movements available, and incorporating them into a regular routine can build strength in the quads (thigh muscles). Being able to get up and down from a squat by focusing on your balance is especially important as it mimics getting up and down from a chair. Focus on your breathing, engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you rise from the squat for better balance.

LEG RAISES:

Kneeling rear leg raises can help build stronger glutes while also engaging the core. Starting on all fours, engage the core muscles and then carefully extend one leg back out. Hold for a second, then raise the leg up until carefully holding the pose – then lower it back down to the start position.
 
 

Are you interested in practising pilates for balance and strength training? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your daily routine and to book an assessment class!

Contact:

0131 652 1904

Now that we’re well on our way into the New Year, we hope everyone has managed to keep up with Pilates over Christmas. As we get back into our everyday routines it can be difficult to balance a healthy mind and body with the stresses of work or caring for a family. We all battle with the stresses of everyday life, but some people are more affected by stress than others. Stress can have a debilitating effect on our minds and bodies, but all is not lost! Pilates can help reduce stress and by working on your mindset, you can seriously improve your performance levels both in the studio and in your everyday life.

Pilates can help reduce stress by providing a safe environment for the body to relax and release pent-up tension. Pilates gives you a moment to yourself each day where the mind can relax and focus on the present moment. By focusing on your breath, your body provides oxygen to the blood which triggers your brain to calm down.

One of the ways of battling stress is by first understanding its effect on the body. Let’s have a look at some now:

Stress can slow recovery

Research shows stress can make you more tired than usual which, in turn, makes it harder to tackle your everyday activities. When stress is allowed to take over, you can become completely drained, leaving you running on nothing, decreasing your chances of recovery after a session in the studio.

Stress can increase the chances of injury

Stress increases your muscle tension. If you’re stressed your muscle tension is already tight so you could be more likely to injure yourself during a workout. Remember to focus on your breath and allow yourself more of a warm up if you know that stress is affecting you that day.

Stress can slow weight loss

If you’re stressed it can be harder to overcome mental barriers when it comes to staying on track with health goals. If you let the pressure mount then exercises and healthy eating regimes may suffer as a result!

Remember, if stress is taking its toll, getting yourself into the studio can seriously improve the pent-up tension that builds up over the day. So the next time you feel like stress is getting the better of you, give Chris a call and book an your next stress free Pilates class!

Pilates Can Help Reduce Stress

Studio Opening Times:
Monday – 4pm – 6.30pm
Tuesday – 9am – 10.30am
Wednesday – 5pm – 7pm
Thursday – 10am – 12.30pm and 5pm – 7pm
Friday – 10am – 12.30pm
Saturday – 9am – 11.30am

 

Contact:
0131 652 1904

Busy periods of time, like Christmas, can often show us that life itself can be your Pilates class. Keeping up with pilates over Christmas doesn’t need to be a challenge, you can simply incorporate the movements into your holiday routine!

In this video Chris talks about the functional ways Pilates can help in your everyday life, and even more so during the holiday period. We carry heavy bags of shopping, lift Christmas trees in and out of cars, not to mention the strenuous act of decorating a tree! Although we are resting from work, it is also quite a physical time, with more labour-intensive cooking and present wrapping, so it can be a great opportunity to notice the benefits of a strong, more balanced and flexible body.

Although, these ‘everyday life’ exercises can be useful for keeping up with pilates over Christmas, Chris still recommends attending a class once a week or practising at home to reap the full rewards.

But remember! It is also absolutely fine to sit back, take a breath and enjoy yourself during this time, remembering that you will be able to get back into it again very shortly. Even if you simply focus on retaining excellent posture while you wrap presents or start each morning with a series of warm up exercises, you can continue to reap the benefits and avoid aches and pains.

Overall, make time for yourself and your loved ones. By staying mindful, and focusing on your breathing, we can see Christmas for what it truly is – a great opportunity to build relationships and recover from a busy year. Small habits add up, so if you feel able to add Pilates into your day, fantastic, and if not – we’ll see you back in the studio in January!

Happy holidays!

Suffering from arthritis (chronic inflammation and swelling of the joints) can severely impact your day to day life. Here, at The Edinburgh Pilates Centre, you can see how pilates can help with arthritis by working one on one with Chris to tailor an exercise regime to help alleviate pain, directly from the source. Pilates has been shown to benefit sufferers as it helps develop resistance to further damage, and can improve symptoms dramatically.

What is arthritis?

When a person suffers from arthritis, the surface of their joints become damaged, causing the cartilage that covers the bones to become both thinner and more rough. The tissues within the joint also become swollen and inflamed, and tiny bony spurs can form. Left untreated, symptoms can worsen, severely damaging the body. This makes movement very tiring and painful – extreme fatigue is a common result. The disease affects many millions of people each year, and so it is increasingly important to incorporate a routine, such as Pilates, to keep joints healthy and strong as both a preventative measure and as a way of easing pain.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is an especially beneficial exercise for arthritis for a number of reasons. Firstly, it keeps the body highly mobile. This is ideal, as arthritis causes joints to become more and more stiff over time, which makes them painful to use. It may seem counterintuitive to move when it hurts, but being static allows arthritis to develop further. Regular Pilates exercises will encourage increased flexibility, and many sufferers have noted a great reduction in pain because of this. As you develop your practise, you will also improve your overall strength and posture, which helps maintain a healthy body. If you want to find out more, watch this short video, which introduces three foundational movements you can try at home:

How Pilates can help with Arthritis:

Pilates is also great for mind-body integration, which can bring a greater sense of well-being. Even though Pilates is known for its emphasis on the core development, it works the whole body and allows you to focus the mind as you move through the different exercises. This is an important benefit: arthritis can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to live with, so practicing body awareness can make a huge difference. You will feel empowered by your ability to enact change and see results. Pilates is incredibly accessible too – with an experienced trainer like Chris, you can get started quickly. As it is low-impact, it is also perfect for all ages and energy levels too. It can be entirely modified to your individual needs to ensure the best results.

Whether you have arthritis and are looking to improve your health, or you are simply interested in starting Pilates, get in to touch with Chris today to book an assessment class!

Warming up prior to exercise and cooling down is extremely important if you are to avoid injury. The objective of our warm up exercises is to raise the body’s temperature to prepare the muscles for activity. At the beginning of each session at the Edinburgh Pilates Centre, you will do a set of warm-up workouts to get you centred and ready for the rest of the session. In this time you have the opportunity to tell Chris of any potential niggles that have been causing you discomfort. This enables him to adapt the session accordingly. Each week you should feel improvements even in the warm-up with these 3 movements.

For all of these warm up exercises, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and flat on the mat. Repeat each move 10 times before moving onto the next one.

Pelvic Curl – Small Movement

  1. With your hands by your side, palms facing down, your head against the mat – if you have a little cushion there to keep your spine straight then that’s advisable – relax your neck. Begin to centre yourself with your breathing and try and maintain a neutral position in your pelvis.
  2. Whilst exhaling, pull your abdominal muscles inwards, clench your gluteus maximus and slowly engage them to curl your shoulders off of the mat. Really hold your core here, keep your pelvis neutral and relax your neck and shoulders to get the most out of this move.
  3. Inhale whilst slowly articulating each vertebra back down to the starting position.

 

Pelvic Curl – Larger Movement

  1. Follow the first step of the from the previous movement, this time instead of a small lift to get your shoulder off of the mat, engage your abdominal muscles for longer to get a larger range of motion to get your shoulders and upper back off of the matt.
  2. Then inhale whilst slowly articulating each vertebra back down to the starting position.

 

Chest Lift

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and flat on the mat. Behind your head, link your fingers together and bend the elbows so that they are pointing outwards. Ensure that your chin is stretched by tilting it towards your chest.
  2. Inhale filling your lungs, then exhale and slowly and with control engage your abs to lift your head and shoulders off of the mat whilst making your elbows reach for the ceiling. To feel the movement more, pull your abs in further.
  3. Pause at the top and inhale. Exhale slowly and return to the starting position with as much control and awareness of your body as possible. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

These pilates warm up exercises have been tailored by Chris, so that you can easily practise them at home. However, we recommend learning the correct posture and movements in class with Chris, to prevent injury. If you’re new to Pilates, join Chris for an assessment class and witness the benefits for yourself!

Give Chris a call on 0131 652 1904 to find out more.

Sometimes it’s necessary to take time out of your busy life to re-energise and recuperate. And the Summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to do so. One of the best things about Pilates is that you can practise anywhere. But if you’ve let your normal exercise regime slide over the holidays, don’t worry too much! Just a few warm up sessions with Chris could have you back in action and ready to return to your normal routine.

Here’s some advice from Chris on how you can incorporate pilates into your everyday life, so that next time you’re on holiday, you can keep up the good work!

The stresses of everyday life have a way of building up and many people find it hard to balance a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind. Returning to Pilates can be instrumental in improving both your physical and mental states, especially after some time off when your mind and body are feeling a bit more energised. When returning to your classes, it’s important to remember to listen to your body and assess how you are feeling.

returning to pilates

 

The universal benefits of Pilates includes: improved concentration, muscle definition, enhanced body control, better balance and coordination, and increased mind-body awareness by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

 

After taking some time off himself, allowing external stresses to fall away, Chris is back in action at the Edinburgh Pilates Centre! So what are you waiting for? Let’s get back into it.

Classes:
All classes are taught on an individual basis, with no more than five patrons to a class, allowing for close observation and personal training.

Classes can be tailored to the individual, so give Chris a call on 0131 652 1904 to find out what’s right for you.

Studio Opening Times:
Monday – 4pm – 6.30pm
Tuesday – 9am – 10.30am
Wednesday – 5pm – 7pm
Thursday – 10am – 12.30pm and 5pm – 7pm
Friday – 10am – 12.30pm
Saturday – 9am – 11.30am

Contact:
0131 652 1904

If you suffer from hip pain, Pilates is an excellent way to remedy discomfort. Often caused by issues with nearby muscles, ligaments or tendons, hip pain can also be referred from the lower back. While it may be tempting to keep the area immobile, in fact, a Pilates practise can decrease pain significantly. This is because the joint itself benefits from gentle yet deliberate movement.

Inside this large, weight-bearing ball and socket joint, the surfaces of the hip bones are covered by a thin synovial membrane, which lubricates the joint and nourishes it. Pilates activates this healthy process which keeps the hip limber.

Certain stretches and exercises also increase flexibility and builds strength in the surrounding muscles, such as the hip flexors. This group of muscles allows you to lift your knees and bend forward from your hips. Sitting in a chair from long periods of time causes the flexors to become tight, as they stay in a shortened position. This often causes pain and makes them more prone to injury, especially for runners due to the repetitive movement. There are many hip-strengthening exercises in Pilates that can prevent the muscles from weakening, and many stretches that can encourage muscle health. All benefit the hip joint immensely.

Here are three gentle movements that can be carried out easily and effectively from home.  

  1. Bridges: lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor. Your arms should be down at your sides. Squeeze your glutes, press down into your heels and then lift your hips up off the floor towards the ceiling. Hold for a moment and carefully lower down to the ground.
  2. The Clam: this movement increase hip joint mobility. On your mat, lie on your side with your knees bent 90 degrees. Your hips and shoulders should be in a straight line. Using your arms to support you, slowly rotate your upper leg, so that your knees move apart – keep your toes together. Slowly bring your knee back down to the start position.
  3. Kneeling lunge: on your mat, kneel in a lunge position. Make sure you have good alignment with your tailbone tucked in slightly and your body upright.

If you have any questions about hip health or want to find out if Pilates is for you, get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your training and to book an assessment class.

 

Whether you are an athlete or not, having a good level of stamina helps you to keep in good health. For those that know the term but are not quite sure what it means for the daily context, stamina is the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort. As you get older it takes more effort to keep a good level of stamina. This is often where people can become disheartened as it can take a while to see the benefits. Pilates is great for building stamina that fits you and your lifestyle, instead of slaving away in the gym, not quite sure whether what you are doing is correct.

In Pilates, the controlled and deliberate movements and exercises may not feel the same as gaining strength through weight training, but you are actually building muscle and strength in a way that weight training doesn’t allow you to. The common mantra in a gym is ‘bigger, faster, stronger’, whereas in Pilates it is ‘longer, smoother, less’. This is because you are able to target specific muscle groups in your body and if you are doing it right you can really feel the muscles working. This is a fantastic benefit for anyone, no matter your current level of fitness. For example, during my Pilates journey, Chris helped me to target my outer hamstrings. By working on my outer hamstrings it allowed me to help correct my posture as I was relying on the strength of my hip flexors, which I had gained through gym work. This increased my overall stamina when I was in the gym doing cardio, for instance, as I was not solely relying on one muscle group to carry me through my workout.

A real strong point of Pilates to build stamina is that it teaches you how to utilise your lungs as breathing is a core principle and part of each movement. Most of us are not making full use of our diaphragm when breathing deeply. This means that, for the majority of us, there is already an area to work on to increase stamina before you even get down to the exercises. As concentration on breath allows us to turn inwards, there are also positive effects on your mental health stamina too. Studies have shown that Pilates can help to improve your mood, sleep quality and relieve anxiety.

Pilates is about channelling into a muscle group to work hard but to feel the sensation of it working hard rather than push away from it. Unlike in the gym, where the usual mentality is to work as hard as possible until your arms and legs are aching. This is where the true strength of Pilates comes in for building stamina for both the body and the mind as you are connecting both together to work in tandem together.

Wondering if Pilates is for you? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your training and to book an assessment class.

When people start their Pilates journey it’s very common to ask how often. After all, we are keen to see results yet we don’t want to do too much too soon – or we rush in full steam ahead! The answer is that it truly depends on each individual. For beginners especially, consistency is important: two to three times a week is enough to start seeing noticeable changes. However, one of the many benefits to Pilates is that it is safe to practise daily.

Let’s make it clearer…

To work out the ideal number of sessions for you, a great place to start is your ‘why’. It is common for clients to practise Pilates for a number of reasons, so honing in on why you take part is key. What has brought you to the practise? Is it to help you perform better in a separate sport? Is it general strengthening and toning of the muscles? Or do you have a physical issue that needs addressing?

If you are someone already engaged in other sporting activities, once a week may work well for you. This supplementary session serves as an addition to your fitness routine and can aid performance in other areas. It allows you to keep moving and still work out but at a lower intensity.  

See Swimming and Pilates and Cycling and Pilates

If you are working with a goal of improving your overall health then more frequent sessions may be advised, especially at the beginning or if you are returning after a break. Consistent habits equal results.

If you are working towards a more specific aim, such as rehabilitation, Pilates should be done multiple times per week – once enough may not be enough to make the significant change you require. If you are working to ease lower back pain or recover from an injury, for example, it is more likely that an instructor will give you an individualised plan to follow.

Even though Pilates is low impact, it is still important to make sure there is plenty of variety in your programme – you will need a wide range of exercises to ensure you keep progressing and developing optimally. Having rest days to recover and working different muscle groups over different days is still advised. It is also important to listen to how you are feeling, so that you can be present in each session. Your body will thank you!

Wondering if Pilates is for you? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your training and to book an assessment class.

One of the many benefits of Pilates is its unique ability to improve performance in sport. It subtly yet effectively increases body control without straining muscles. Importantly, this reduces the risk of injury, all while building strength. Athletes participating in swimming in particular can notice exciting and significant improvements in race and recovery times by following a Pilates routine that focuses on ideal body alignment and building core strength.

The shoulder joint is used enormously during swimming, and it is this area of the body that can frequently suffer from wear and tear injuries from continual repetition. The following article discusses the complex use of this joint during the butterfly stroke, and shows how important it is to have a strong trunk to support the shoulders as they propel the body forwards in the water.

This is one of the main ways Pilates aids swimmers is its effective muscle conditioning of the inner support system, including the abdominal muscles and core. This helps to reduce recovery time overall for an athlete. Swimmers most often train the larger,  global muscles, which means these smaller, deeper internal muscles can be neglected. By training them, however, the likelihood of neck strains or shoulder injury is reduced, as they support the movement in the extremities. If you are suffering from a neck strain from swimming, Chris explains some simple methods of relieving tension in this video:

Pilates also provides an increased sense of balance for swimmers. It is a highly functional practise, and its exercises carry over to many sports that require careful positioning. Swimmers must be balanced in the water in order to keep their body in ideal alignment for maximum efficiency. Even the smallest misalignment can have a great effect on different strokes, so this is key for success. Pilates also improves joint flexibility by lengthening and increasing range of motion.

The concentration that is applied during Pilates is a further added benefit to time spent in the pool; swimmers can gain a heightened state of focus to help them reach their goals. The practise of breath control also aids athletes, as it builds an awareness of the respiratory system.

Whether you are an elite athlete clocking up hours and hours each week in the pool, or you are a regular swimmer, Pilates can be beneficial for these reasons. By working on the inner stabilizing muscles and taking the time to work on your ability to focus and concentrate, your swim speed and strength can be increased dramatically and your strokes can become far more efficient!  

Wondering if Pilates is for you? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your training and to book an assessment class.