Posts In: Tips

Exercise of all forms, Pilates included, is a great habit to build for a healthy lifestyle. While it’s not necessary to track your progress and simply being active and staying fit is fantastic on its own, intentionally tracking progress can provide benefits to some. 

Progress is achieved through consistent efforts, so it’s not always obvious when you’ve made progress. Intentionally tracking your progress can act as a great motivation then, as you’re able to compare your starting point with what you’ve achieved, and envision the new heights you’d like to reach in the future. Keeping track of progress is also a good idea if you have specific goals you’re trying to reach, as it can give you insights into your performance and whether you need to tweak your exercise routine to help you achieve those goals. 

So, how do you go about tracking your Pilates progress? 

Define Your Goals

First of all, it’s crucial that you define your goals and determine exactly what it is that you’re hoping to track. Pilates provides an array of benefits, and while you can approach Pilates with the intention of improving your overall health, you will likely see more significant progress if you focus on one or two areas of improvement to track. Some of these areas include: 

  • General physique 
  • Strength 
  • Flexibility 
  • Muscular endurance 

Consider what’s important to you and pick one or two areas to focus on improving. Use those areas to measure and track your progress as you regularly practice your Pilates routine. 

Tracking Physique Progress

If physique is one of your main motivators, you’ll want to begin by taking initial photos and measurements to determine your starting point. This can be scary for many people, as body dysmorphia is common and it can often be a source of discomfort to focus on the parts of your body that are not your favourite. Just remember that you’re beautiful and strong in every version of yourself, and appreciating the body you have now will only help you to recognize the progress you make in the future. 

There are a few tricks to taking quality before-and-after photos, like wearing the same clothes in each and standing before a plain backdrop. This resource tells you everything you need to know about snapping the right photos that will showcase your Pilates progress more than ever.  

When it comes to taking measurements, this video shows the right method for accurate and consistent measurements.  

When tracking physique, the scale is not a very accurate metric. Fat and muscle have different densities and losing fat does not always translate to losing weight if you’re gaining muscle at the same time. Ditch the scale and go for photographs or measurements for a more accurate indication of your physical progress. 

Tracking Strength

Tracking strength is fairly straightforward – how much weight is your body able to move, with correct form? Choose a handful of key weighted exercises, and mark exactly how much weight you can successfully lift for each. Return to those same exercises and write down your performance so that you can look back on where you started versus what you’ve achieved, and use that information to set goals for the future. 

Tracking Flexibility  

Tracking your flexibility is similar, and requires that you take initial measurements in certain positions and compare that data to measurements gained through the exact same positions at a later date. Just as with progress tracking in general, you can choose to focus on certain body parts, or tackle your overall flexibility as a whole. 

This article outlines specific positions to use to test the flexibility of various body parts. As you continue through your Pilates journey, return to those same positions and take measurements. While it can be hard to feel the progress on a daily basis, those numbers will undoubtedly show that you’ve been improving! 

Tracking Muscular Endurance

As with strength progression, tracking your muscular endurance requires you to pick a handful of exercises to compare over time. Muscular endurance tests are best done with bodyweight, static positions like a plank or a wall sit. Perform the exercise until failure, and make note of how long your muscles lasted before giving out. Routinely perform those same exercises until failure and you’ll see that your times are increasing, and your Pilates training is paying off. 

Maintain a Positive Attitude 

Tracking progress can be a great way to appreciate our efforts and recognize our achievements, but it can also be easy to get down on ourselves if the progress isn’t coming quickly enough for our liking. It’s important to remember that progress takes time, and we need to be patient with ourselves and our bodies. 

Pilates yields so many benefits outside of these areas, as well. It helps us to release endorphins, improves our quality of sleep, and allows us to meet friends, to name a few. Those are things worth celebrating, too! 

If you’re interested in signing up for an in-studio or virtual Pilates class, contact us at ABsolute Pilates. We can help you to reach your exercise goals, and have fun along the way! 

 

Everybody experiences the occasional slump. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a longtime fitness enthusiast, or someone who is simply trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, everybody goes through periods where exercise is the last thing they want to do. 

Maybe your life is extra hectic at the moment, or you’re feeling more tired than usual. Whatever the reason, rediscovering your motivation for exercise is the key to getting back to it.  With these few tips, you’ll have your heart pumping again in no time! 

Focus on Why

When you’re not feeling motivated to exercise, it can be helpful to remember why you started in the first place. You might’ve started exercising because you wanted a stronger body, improved mental health, better sleep, or any other number of reasons. What’s your why? 

If it motivated you to exercise in the first place, it likely can motivate you out of your slump. Even if your life has changed and your initial why is no longer relevant, think about how exercise can benefit your body and your lifestyle. Focus on the results you’re chasing, and you might start to feel excited about exercise again! 

Change Your Perspective

Exercise can sometimes feel like a chore, and chores are no fun. If that’s how you’ve been feeling, it may be time for a change of perspective! 

Rather than thinking of your exercise regime as something you have to do, try thinking of it as something you get to do. If you can frame exercise as something that you’re lucky to have in your life and as an opportunity to celebrate all of the incredible things your body is capable of, you might find that you feel more motivated to get your body moving.  

Make It Fun!

If you have been lacking in motivation lately, the issue may be that your workouts simply aren’t fun enough. Take a minute to think about what you enjoy, and how to incorporate those elements into your workouts. 

If you usually run on a treadmill, consider hitting a trail for your next run to experience the fresh air and beautiful scenery. Try blasting some of your favourite tunes the next time you go to exercise, or even joining an exercise dance class. You might find that joining an adult recreation league does the trick, so that your focus is on winning a game with your teammates, and exercise is an added bonus (rather than the main focus).  

Join a Group

Lots of people find that they’re far more motivated to do something when they do it with friends. Joining an exercise group is a great way to keep up healthy habits, form new friendships, develop new skills, and add a level of accountability to your workout schedule. 

Whether it’s a walking group, a sports team, or a group workout class, joining a group of likeminded people is a fantastic way to stay motivated to exercise and have fun while doing it.  

If you’ve always wanted to give Pilates a try, or you’re looking for a place to meet some friends and work up a sweat, look no further than ABsolute Pilates. We offer a variety of classes in-studio, online, and in a hybrid format. Take a look at our current class offerings, and contact us if you’d like to find out more!  

Although Pilates was originally designed by a man, Joseph Pilates, for war veterans (who were, at the time, all men), it has since transformed to be geared primarily toward women’s health. So, we understand why men might be skeptical about taking up this exercise method. But Pilates is an excellent option for men in many different stages of life, and with varying fitness goals. Whether you’re looking to reduce back pain from an injury, improve your sports performance, or you’re a novice just looking to increase your overall physical fitness, Pilates is an excellent choice. We’ll walk you through 3 key Pilates moves specific to men’s health, their benefits, and how to perform the movements. They could be just what your routine is lacking! 

1. Hip Rolls

An excellent exercise for essentially any man, the hip roll is important for improving spinal mobility. It will also strengthen your glutes and open hip flexors, two key improvements that can help to relieve back pain.  

To perform: 

  1. Lay on your back with your arms at your sides.  
  2. Put your feet flat on the ground, knees bent.  
  3. Press your arms into the floor, flat on either side of your body.  
  4. Engage your abdominal muscles as you raise your pelvis and tailbone off the mat, and slowly add each vertebra of your lower spine.  
  5. Squeeze your glutes and hold your body straight from knees to shoulder.  
  6. Reverse slowly, bringing each section of the spine down, starting from the top this time.  

2. Shoulder Bridge

This exercise is a great option to challenge men with strong core stability to challenge themselves and improve even further. By maintaining the position with only one leg, you’ll feel much more stress on your core muscles.  

To perform:  

  1. Lay on your back, knees bent, just as when starting the pelvic curl.  
  2. Activate your abdominals and extend to the top of the pelvic curl, so you form a straight line from knee to shoulder.  
  3. Lift one leg off the ground, keeping the knee bent. Only go as high as is comfortable.  
  4. Lower and raise one leg from 5 to 10 times. 
  5. Repeat with your other leg. 
  6. End the exercise as you end pelvic curl, by slowly lowering to the mat.  

3. Obliques

Those who work office jobs or who spend the majority of their day in one spot can use this exercise to help reduce certain kinds of pain they may be feeling from sitting all day. Also called bicycle crunches, the obliques exercise activates – you guessed it – the obliques, along with the hip extensors. The latter are particularly neglected when a lot of time is spent sitting at a desk.  

To perform: 

  1. Lay on your back with your legs in the air, knees bent, and abdominal muscles engaged. This position is called tabletop.
  2. With your hands behind your head, lift your head, neck, and shoulders.  
  3. Move one elbow towards the opposite-side knee. 
  4. Bend that knee towards the elbow, while extending the other leg out straight, foot pointing towards the wall.  
  5. Switch sides, bringing your other elbow to the other knee and extending the other leg.  
  6. Repeat 8 to 10 times.  

 Ready to learn more about how Pilates can improve men’s health? Talk to us at Absolute Pilates or sign up for a class today.  

                                                                                                                   

 

May 7th is Pilates Day! It’s a day where the whole Pilates world, across the globe, celebrate Pilates and the impact that it has on all of our lives. The goal is also to promote awareness of Pilates and the benefits that it can provide to anyone, from any walk of life. We want everyone to know how Pilates can make them feel: strong, empowered, energetic, and much more.  

What is Pilates?

Pilates has a storied history and began as a program to help veterans, but it has morphed since its beginnings. Today, Pilates is a low impact non-aerobic exercise program that focuses on building strength core strength for any member of the population. Your core muscles are essential to balance, strength, flexibility, and overall health. In our world, where people are tied to desks and always looking at screens, core muscles often go neglected. Pilates can fix that.  

Pilates is a particularly useful exercise program because it scales. You can start out with Pilates even if you are a complete beginner to this kind of exercise. Over time as you gain control, strength, and flexibility, you can continue to challenge yourself with new poses and exercises. You can also expect to see benefits in your arms and legs, your overall energy levels, and your range of motion, when you regularly practice Pilates.  

Pilates is often compared to yoga, as both can focus on the core. You can certainly bring the mindfulness techniques of yoga with you to Pilates, but you’ll also get a more intense core workout. Plus, with Pilates you can use equipment to further challenge yourself or help you target specific areas.  

The Benefits of Pilates

There are many potential benefits of Pilates, including: 

  • Improved posture 
  • Improved flexibility 
  • Improved balance  
  • Improved range of motion 
  • Injury prevention 
  • Increased body awareness 
  • Increased energy levels  
  • Decreased stress 

Pilates can also reduce pain, depending on the cause of that pain and where you’re experiencing it. For example, Pilates has been known to reduce back pain, as well as alleviate menstrual cramps. 

The benefits of Pilates don’t stop there – the exercise is known to have many other positive effects. For example, reduced pain and increased flexibility and bodily awareness can in many cases lead to a healthier sex life. More energy and reduced stress can improve your motivation across the board. Overall, practicing Pilates can have a significant and wide-ranging impact on your life.  

Celebrate Pilates Day Yourself

Newcomers and long-time lovers of Pilates can both celebrate Pilates Day with us by signing up for a class. Or consider these personal challenges you might take on to enjoy Pilates Day: 

  • Journal about what Pilates has meant to you and how it has changed your personal journey.  
  • Challenge yourself to try a new Pilates exercise or perform one longer than you might normally.  
  • Invite close friends or families to join you in some Pilates movements.  
  • Share parts of your Pilates journey online over social media.  
  • Practice Pilates in a new place, like a riverside, meadow, or other natural place.  

If you want to get in on a class, you can sign up for one with ABsolute Pilates. Contact us today 

Women who are considering getting pregnant, who are pregnant, and who just gave birth are right to be concerned about how this will impact their exercise regime. As you approach pregnancy, improving your physical fitness is recommended to improve your chances of conception, and the health of both mother and child. However, most women also want to pick up exercise that they can continue throughout pregnancy, and which can help them to strengthen the muscles involved in labour. Even better if that exercise can also help recovery after childbirth! Pilates fits the bill and is widely considered to be one of the best exercises to meet the needs of mothers, both prenatally and postnatally. Learn about the important role Pilates can play in your health during and after pregnancy.  

How Pilates Benefits Pregnancy

First, it is important to clear up some misconceptions. Pilates is not about increasing the strength of your contractions, and developing your core muscles will not make labour harder or more painful. Instead, through Pilates work you can focus in on the muscles that support your uterus and the baby, before and during childbirth. This can make labour easier, less stressful on various parts of your body, and aid with recovery afterward.  

For example, pelvic floor muscles will guide the baby’s head as it moves through the birth canal, but they won’t contract. Strengthening them can help with labour indirectly. Another great example is the transverse abdominis muscles, which are like a sheet of muscles all across your stomach and pelvis. These support your uterus and every other organ in your abdomen, and they offer essential support during labour. Pilates can help to prevent the damage and separation of these muscles, and since they do not contract during labour, developing them will not increase pain. Both of these muscle groups, and many more, are targeted, strengthened, and lengthened through Pilates.   

Muscle development is not the only benefit that you’ll see from Pilates. Prenatally, Pilates can help with: 

  • Breathing focus 
  • Breathing technique 
  • Flexibility  
  • Pain reduction  
  • Mental health  

As Pilates has a low impact on your joints and is not as demanding on your cardiovascular system as many other types of exercise, it is more suitable to continue late into pregnancy. This can help you maintain your health throughout pregnancy, which will simplify all aspects of recovery.  

Postnatal Pilates can help to: 

  • Strengthen weakened muscles 
  • Improve recovery times  
  • Regain posture 
  • Reduce muscle pain  
  • Improve mental health  
  • Facilitate weight loss  

Pilates is easily adjusted to various levels of fitness and strength. That means that postnatal Pilates can be easily adjusted to accommodate your condition, and help you work back into exercising at a pace that makes sense for you. While some women are ready to exercise at their normal pace shortly after birth, most need to gradually build back up their routine. Pilates can help.  

Join Us to Better Your Pre and Postnatal Health

While Pilates targets many muscles groups that are essential in pregnancy and childbirth, the often-overlooked pelvic muscles are among the most important. We periodically run a pelvic health workshop that we strongly encourage women to join, and the next one is taking place on March 29th, 2022 – send us an email at info@meadowlandsphysio.ca to sign up and reserve your spot!  

At Absolute Pilates, we are dedicated to offering resources and support for women before, during, and after pregnancy. Reach out to us with your questions about how Pilates can benefit your health, or to sign up for a class!  

Pilates for Seniors

November 17, 2021

With its emphasis on core muscles and endurance, you might think of Pilates as an exercise option for only young, fit people – and you wouldn’t be alone. However, Pilates is great for people of all ages and fitness levels, including seniors! From mat classes to reformer classes, Pilates can be adjusted for seniors to provide many of the exact health benefits that the aging body needs. Here’s what you need to know about these benefits and how Pilates can be adjusted for seniors.  

Benefits of Pilates for Seniors  

As with any person who goes through a Pilates course, seniors will find that their strength, especially their core strength, improves greatly. This newfound strength is key in helping seniors to complete daily tasks, remain agile, and maintain a sense of independence. However, it offers many other benefits that you may find surprising. Both the improved strength and exercise achieved through Pilates can provide: 

  • Increased circulation: As we exercise, we increase our circulation. Having more muscle mass will promote better circulation even when you’re just sitting still. Circulation provides its own benefits, including quicker and more complete healing. As seniors typically have slower healing times, this boost to circulation can be very beneficial. 
  • Improved balance and stability: Core muscles are some of the most essential muscles to help us correct from falls and remain more stable on our feet. Seniors are more prone to falls, especially if they do not have the core muscles needed to help correct themselves during a slip. You can reduce your odds of falling and injuring yourself by building core muscles.   
  • Increased mobility: Pilates can improve your overall range of motion. Tight muscles and tendons, along with old injuries and scar tissue, can reduce how far we can open or close our joints. Pilates exercises can help you to improve mobility and work to overcome these challenges. Your physiotherapist can guide you to the correct Pilates movements to help with your specific joint problems.   
  • Stronger posture: With improved core muscles comes better posture, both while sitting and standing. The core muscles can thus support the neck and back, sometimes even improving chronic pain. 
  • Reduced pain: Various kinds of chronic pain can be reduced through Pilates exercises. Arthritis, osteoporosis, joint issues, back pain and more can be addressed to give you a better quality of life.  
  • Reduced stress: All exercise reduces stress by releasing hormones that help to improve your mood. Pilates goes a step further by incorporating mindfulness principles that can help you to soothe anxiety, challenge depression, and build a more positive mental state.   

Pilates Adjustments for Seniors 

You may be concerned that a particular condition you have prevents you from practicing Pilates. However, our instructors can adjust Pilates for almost all conditions and chronic issues that you might have. Some conditions that cause folks to worry when they’re thinking of trying Pilates, like osteoporosis and arthritis, can actually be improved with the help of Pilates! The additional muscle mass and flexibility you gain during Pilates actually helps you to improve bone mass and resist the effects of osteoporosis. Pilates movements can also help to reduce the pain from arthritis and other chronic conditions! If you’re unsure of how Pilates can help you, reach out to us at ABsolute Pilates to discuss it with one of our trained professionals.  

 

Pilates for Beginners

September 15, 2021

Whether you’re new to exercising or just looking to switch things up, Pilates is an excellent option. You might think of it as a tough core workout, but it can be very easily adjusted for those of every skill level and physical fitness level, making Pilates a great option for beginners! If you’re skeptical as to whether Pilates is right for you, here’s everything you need to know.  

What is Pilates?

Pilates was named after its inventor, Joseph Pilates, whose focus was creating an exercise program to support soldiers during the war. It turns out that what he created has much broader applications; Pilates has the ability to support health and wellbeing, as well as to support physiotherapy efforts in injury recovery, and much more.  

Pilates is a low impact-exercise, which means it is not too taxing on joints, nor is it overly focused on cardio-vascular health.  Instead, it focuses on adding muscle, balance, and strength to the core. The core is responsible for much of our posture and balance, so building strength to this area can help improve many posture-related problems, speed up injury recovery, and more.  

Typical beginner Pilates moves will be about engaging the core and the back. Many exercises will stretch the hips, the spine, and the arms and legs. You will be lying, sitting, or standing on a mat when you complete most of these exercises unless you are using a Reformer machine. ABsolute Pilates uses Reformer machines, which can be very helpful to target different muscles on the body and ensure proper form. Don’t be intimidated – they are relatively simple to use, and your instructor will guide you, if you want to use them. Beginners need not feel obligated to jump into using a Reformer machine, mat work will do just fine! 

You will gain flexibility and confidence with the moves as you progress, and you’ll be challenged with increasingly difficult poses. If you already have strong core strength and balance, you may find that you can do more challenging Pilates poses right away.  

What are the Benefits of Pilates?

As a beginner, you will probably see a marked improvement in core strength, which will come with a wide range of benefits. These might include: 

  • Mobility: Anyone who has had surgery or an injury will benefit from the boost to mobility that Pilates can bring. By stretching and doing guided, repeated exercises you can improve any joint’s range of motion, especially after that joint has undergone surgery.  
  • Posture: Our posture is supported by our core muscles. When you improve the strength in these supportive muscles then you can also reduce the stress on your neck, back, hips and shoulders, sometimes relieving pain in these areas if the pain is partly or entirely stemming from posture-related issues.  
  • Balance: Balance will help you every time you move. For seniors especially, the benefits of improved balance are critical. Through Pilates you can prevent falls and feel more secure in a wide range of other activities. 
  • Flexibility: Even if you don’t need to improve your mobility after an injury or surgery, you can still benefit from the improved flexibility that Pilates offers.  

 

Overall, Pilates is a great exercise that can benefit anyone from those beginning their exercise journey, to those who are competitive athletes. Reach out to ABsolute Pilates today to discuss how Pilates could be right for you, or to sign up for a class! 

woman on mat stretching with bar in exercise clothes

You can do Pilates without equipment but adding resistance through a Pilates bar can make your workouts even more impactful and help you to build strength even faster. If you need to up the challenge in your Pilates workout and you’re looking at Pilates bars as a solution, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all of the options to choose from. Which is the best bar for your specific purposes? Here are some things to consider when you’re making your decision.

Level of Resistance

As when buying free weights, you want to think about how much resistance the bar and its bands will offer your workout. If you already have great muscle development, bands with high resistance are important for an extra challenge. Most bars have the option to adjust to some degree, by rolling the bands around the bar. However, you’ll still want high quality bands that will provide the optimal challenge for your skill level. The best way to test them is to pull on them in real life, but if you’re buying online you may also be able to find bands that have a weight rating.

Durability

The material of the bar and bands, and the connections between the two, will determine how durable the Pilates bar is and how long it will last. You’ll have to balance durability with cost. Bars made with steel and high-quality metals, and bands made with high quality rubbers will tend to be more expensive, though they’ll be able to handle strenuous workouts for longer. Beware of hollow cords, aluminum bars and cheap-looking plastic connectors, as they’ll likely have a short lifespan.

Comfort

You want to be comfortable during your workout so that you can focus on your form and challenging yourself physically. Pilates bars have many features that can help to make your workout more comfortable. Adjustable, padded foot loops are key. You may also find bars that are padded and offer sweat absorption. Otherwise, hold the bars yourself to compare their relative comfort and find a Pilates bar that suits you.

Height

Many of the bars you buy online will not adjust for people who are on the taller side. Look at the reviews to spot if this is the case for the bars that you’re interested in. In general, bars with straps that aren’t adjustable usually aren’t ideal for people not of average height, whether they’re taller or shorter than the average. If the only way to adjust the bands is to wrap them around the bar, then you may want to look elsewhere to find a bar suited to your stature.

Portability

Don’t be fooled by the online reviews that equate the bar’s weight to its portability. If you’re doing Pilates, you can carry the bar to and from your car. What really matters for portability is if the bar fits in your car or can fold up in order to fit in your vehicle or bike bag. Some bars fold up. Otherwise, you may want to take a measurement of your trunk and ensure the bar will fit in. If you go for a fold-up bar, be sure to read reviews to ensure you’re not sacrificing durability or strength for portability’s sake.

Exercises

If you’re exercising at home, you may be swayed by products that offer exercise guides to show you how to use the bar. Some have paper or digital instructions to teach you new moves. If you’re a beginner to Pilates, a bar that comes with guidance and example exercises may be just what you need to get the ball rolling. Or, use your bar at your Physiotherapy appointments and get professional guidance from Meadowland’s physiotherapists. Don’t have a bar? Join a class at ABsolute Pilates and use our equipment under the watchful eye of certified Pilates instructors!

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