Posts In: pilates

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!

women on mats in studio doing Pilates

If you’ve only heard of Pilates as a popular core-based exercise, you’re missing out. Pilates is a wide-ranging form of exercise from which many different disciplines have grown. You might have heard of mat Pilates, reformer Pilates and more. As physiotherapists, we find that clinical Pilates is the most practical and beneficial for our patients.  The original intention behind Pilates was to support rehabilitation for soldiers. Today, clinical Pilates stays true to the original rehabilitation focus of these exercises. Here’s what you need to know about how clinical physiotherapy can help you.  

What Does Clinical Mean? 

Clinical is a word we use a lot in healthcare, which essentially just means the treatment of patients. Clinical Pilates is therefore distinguished by focusing on treating patients instead of just being a fun outlet for exercise. We set clinical goals such as recovering from an injury by rebuilding strength, range of motion, balance, and reducing pain. We might also set the goal of preventing injury, improving work or sport performance, or other goals you might have. We then focus on the clinical Pilates exercises that will help support you in those goals. There’s hard research and knowledge behind which exercises and what regimen we recommend! 

Clinical Pilates must be run by qualified physiotherapists who have the training to assess your needs and create an exercise regimen that will support your goals. Our team will ensure that the exercises are both safe and effective.  

What is Pilates About?

Pilates is a series of exercises focused primarily, but not exclusively, on the core muscles. This helps you gain strength in the supportive muscles that can protect other parts of your body from injury and pain. Clinical Pilates targets the exact areas that you need to improve.  

What Can Clinical Pilates Help With?

Clinical Pilates is highly adaptable and can help those with a range of issues and concerns, including: 

  • Back pain: Back pain can be reduced or eliminated with better posture and stronger supportive muscles to take stress off the injured or sore areas.  
  • Neck pain: Like back pain, a lot of neck pain is the result of poor posture and loss of strength in supportive core muscles. Clinical Pilates can help improve strength, flexibility, and posture. You will also learn stretches to prevent neck soreness from sitting all day.   
  • Rehabilitation: Clinical Pilates can help you recover from surgeries and other medical procedures to regain your full range of motion and strength in the affected areas.   
  • Other injuries: Injuries that do not require surgery can benefit from Clinical Pilates.  
  • Prevent falls: Especially in the elderly, a lack of strength and balance can lead to falls, which are much more serious as we age. Clinical Pilates can reduce the odds of falls and protect you from injury.  
  • Prevent injuries: Workplace injuries and sport injuries can both be prevented with Clinical Pilates.  

The team at ABsolute Pilates can help you decide if clinical Pilates is the right choice to help you meet your physical rehabilitation goals. Reach out to us to discuss your needs today!  

  

If you start looking for Pilates classes, you’ll soon find that there are at least three main types: Stott, Winsor and Power Pilates. In order to choose the right class for you, you’ll want to understand what each type is and its comparative benefits to the others.

What is Pilates?

All three types of Pilates focus on improving strength, flexibility and posture, with a strong emphasis on the core. Afterall, the core muscles support our limbs and the rest of our everyday movements.

Pilates is typically done in long, but low-impact classes that can be adjusted for beginners or amped up to challenge even the most seasoned professional athletes. From that foundation, each Pilates style brings a unique element to the exercises.

  1. Winsor Pilates

When you think of Pilates, you are probably thinking of Winsor Pilates. Mary Winsor created this style, and she is credited with popularizing the exercise. Her DVDs were sold nationwide and featured her and her team in colorful 80’s style workout gear.

Winsor Pilates focuses on fun and flexibility more than a challenging workout. As with most forms of Pilates, Winsor’s exercises prioritize the core muscles, but also provide a shorter and less intense class.

  1. Power Pilates

Power Pilates is commonly viewed as a return to the original intention of Joseph Pilates, the creator of the exercise program. In the 1980s, Romana Kryzanowska was a Pilates instructor at the original studio where Joseph taught. Some of the instructors that Kryzanowska trained became the first Power Pilates instructors (one was Mary Winsor).

Power Pilates instructors focused on balance, supporting the spine, and efficient movement in intense workouts. Power Pilates is considered “classical” and rejects the modern changes that Winsor brought to Pilates.

  1. Stott Pilates

Stott Pilates is the newest form of Pilates. While it is grounded in the initial theory from Joseph Pilates, it also incorporates modern understanding about physical rehabilitation and performance. Stott Pilates was also designed to be a complete exercise program that offers cardiovascular training as well as strength training. That means you don’t necessarily need to do any other activity to improve your strength and balance, though it can complement other forms of exercise.

Stott Pilates improves on other forms of Pilates in several ways, including:

  • Three-dimensional movement: While other forms of Pilates neglect some movements, Stott Pilates ensures you maintain a full range of motion.
  • Focus on joint muscles: Instead of just focusing on the core, Stott Pilate instructors know that the muscles around the joints are also key for better movement and balance. We work on these muscles.
  • Corrects over-training: By adding cardiovascular training and focusing on exercising both sides of the body equally, Stott Pilates corrects over-training.

Visit Absolute Pilates for Stott Pilates

At Absolute Pilates we offer Stott Pilates because we believe the program gives our clients a more complete, effective and safe exercise regimen. This flexible Pilates style is perfect for everyone, from pregnant women to seniors to professional athletes. All you need is guidance from an experienced, registered Stott Pilates instructor.

Contact us today for more information on our Pilates classes.

Pilates might be best known for increasing your strength, especially in your core muscles. However, it also helps women burn off excess calories and therefore manage their weight. The great thing about trying Pilates for weight management is that it’s an accessible exercise.

Truly, no matter your fitness level, Pilates will challenge you to burn fat. Those who have chronic pain or other disorders can easily modify Pilates to be comfortable, while athletes at peak performance can still find movements that challenge them.

At Absolute Pilates, we have experience modifying Pilates routines and intensifying them for advanced Pilates participants. We find that some moves are better suited for burning fat and managing weight than others, and we want to share those moves with you.

The Best Pilates Moves for Weight Management

  1. Knee Up/Heel Up
  • Step One: From standing, keep your elbows bent and at your side. Begin jogging.
  • Step Two: While jogging, for eight leg movements, raise your knee in front of you to hip height.
  • Step Three: While jogging, stop knee ups and start extending your legs back to kick your bottom, eight times. Do not lift your knees and attempt a kick at the same time, only alternate the movements.
  1. Crisscross
  • Step One: Lay on your back. Place your hands behind your head and lift. Pull your knees to your chest.
  • Step Two: On the exhale, move to touch your right elbow with your left knee. Your hands should stay behind your head, and your right leg should straighten for balance.
  • Step Three: Slowly return to the start position. Switch sides, reaching your left elbow to touch your right knee.
  • Step Four: Combine the movements and complete five sets of twists.
  1. Corkscrew
  • Step One: Lay flat on your back. Extend your arms straight out at your sides. Turn your palms to the floor so you can use them for support.
  • Step Two: With your legs straight, press them together, engaging the muscles from calf to rear.
  • Step Three: Point your toes and lift your legs, still pressing them together. Use your arms and shoulders for balance. Do not let your weight rest on your neck.
  • Step Four: Lift so your glutes aren’t touching the floor. Lean slightly right and move your legs right, then left in a circle.
  • Step Five: Return your legs to the floor. Raise them again and perform a circle as before, but first leaning left, so the circle is in the opposite direction.
  • Step Six: Repeat each circle four times, alternating each time.

Attend Pilates Classes at Absolute Pilates

While you can always practice these Pilates moves at home, it’s much more motivational and fun to take part in a class. Plus, our experienced Pilates instructors can help guide you to get the most out of the class, whether you’re looking for weight management or other Pilates benefits. Contact us today for more information about our classes and how to register.

Immobility, even for a short period of time (or only in a certain limb), can have serious effects on the whole body. Your muscles, bones, and even heart will weaken unless you take steps to keep them healthy. In fact, it is much easier to prevent the complications of immobility than to treat them after the fact. Pilates can help with both scenarios.

Causes of Immobility

You may need to counter-act the effects of immobility if you are limited to your bed or a wheelchair. Other causes of immobility include:

  • Bed rest due to illness
  • Paralysis of any limb
  • Restriction of a limb in a brace or cast
  • Restriction of joints with a brace or cast
  • Loss of sensation in any body part

Effects of Immobility

Overtime, the effects of immobility can become worse than the illness or injury that caused the immobility in the first place.

  1. Muscles Loss

The first complication is muscle weakness. Research has found that immobile muscles will lose up to 15 percent of their strength each week. This means that after five weeks of immobility your muscles will have lost almost or more than half of their strength.

The first muscles to be affected are the core muscles, because they no longer have to resist gravity. These muscles support you throughout essentially every kind of movement. Unless you prevent core muscle loss, you will find that climbing stairs, walking, and even sitting up is a challenge.

Pilates focuses on these vulnerable muscles first and foremost. Not only can you maintain their condition with Pilates, you may even improve their strength, leaving bed rest stronger than when you started. Many of the key Pilates exercises that develop the core muscles can be done while lying down, so you can exercise no matter what kind of immobility you are dealing with.

Pilates exercises can also focus on the muscle groups that you can move, to ensure they maintain as much of their strength as possible.

  1. Bone Density Loss

Like muscles, bones need activity to remain strong. During immobility, bones will lose their density rapidly, until 12 weeks at which point bone density levels out. However, this rapid immediate loss may cause osteoporosis, or give you a much greater risk of developing it later on. It is much harder to regain bone density than to maintain it in the first place.

Pilates exercises will allow you to use your own body weight to put pressure on your bones, encouraging them to remain healthy. Those exercises which develop muscle strength will also maintain your bone density, especially in critical areas like your hips, knees and back.

  1. Other Complications

There are other rarer complications of immobility that you can prevent. For example, after three weeks of bed rest you could develop orthostatic hypotension, where your circulatory system no longer adjusts as you sit up, making your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Leg exercises and pressure wraps can treat this condition over time, but Pilates leg exercises and sitting exercises may help prevent it in the first place.

Similar treatments are given to patients who develop venous thromboembolisms from inactivity. This condition is a blood clot that forms in the veins of the leg. Simple leg exercises and other Pilates exercises can also help prevent these clots from forming.

If you have immobility, even for a short period of time, you can take charge of your health and prevent these conditions from developing. Contact us at Absolute Pilates to sign up for a Pilates class. You may even end up stronger than you were before your immobility!

If you have low bone density, and osteopenia or osteoporosis, you may have heard that Pilates is not the exercise for you. That’s only half right. While some forms of Pilates may cause harm to your fragile bones, others like STOTT PILATES® can help you rebuild bone density.

The Right Exercise

Those with low bone density are often advised by doctors and physiotherapists to try weight bearing exercises in order to preserve and build bone density. Instead of cycling or swimming, which can take much-needed pressure off your bones, you’ve likely been encouraged to walk or lift weights.

However, walking doesn’t apply any pressure to the bones in your arm, and few seniors feel comfortable lifting weights. The solution is to try STOTT PILATES® instead.

STOTT PILATES® can be adjusted for any level of physical ability. It doesn’t require equipment, unlike weight lifting, and uses only your body weight and gravity to add pressure. Sometimes Pilates involves equipment, but this is usually equipment which relieves pressure, like a trapeze table or TRX machine. Further, there are many Pilates movements that will apply gentle pressure to your arms, which are often neglected in other bone density exercises.

All types of Pilates involve weight bearing exercises, that’s not the problem. Instead, certain positions that Pilates demands of you can be dangerous when your bones are fragile, especially for your spine. The same thing goes for yoga.

No one with osteoporosis should be rolling, on their hip or shoulder. They shouldn’t be twisting their spine, even by reaching behind themselves. They also should avoid leaning forward or curving their spine forward.

The Movements and Goals of STOTT PILATES®

We often adjust STOTT PILATES® programs to avoid these dangerous movements and allow those with low bone density to enjoy the benefits of Pilates. Instead of those dangerous movements, we might work on:

  • Leg pulls and circles
  • Push ups
  • Chest expansion
  • Single and double leg kicks
  • Side-lying movements

The movements we choose for these classes are designed to accomplish a few goals, including:

  • Improve bone density especially in the hips and spine
  • Improve strength to help support weakened bones
  • Improve balance, to prevent falls and fractures
  • Improve range of motion and flexibility
  • Improve posture, which can address pain in some parts of the body

Talk to Your Instructor

If you have low bone density you should let your STOTT PILATES® instructor know, so that they can teach you to modify your movements to maximize your bones and keep you safe.

If you’re not sure if one of our classes is right for you, please reach out to us. We can let you know which of our classes fits your goals best.

Breast cancer survivors may be surprised to learn that after their last treatment, there are still physical challenges to overcome.

You may feel pain, swelling and stiffness in your shoulder, arm and chest from several treatments, including:

  • Breast biopsy
  • Lumpectomy
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Lymph node removal
  • Mastectomy
  • Radiation
  • Breast reconstruction

Physiotherapy, Pilates and massage therapy each offer their own benefits to breast cancer survivors who have undergone any of these procedures. Learn how each can reduce your pain and help you move forward.

Physiotherapy for Cancer Recovery

Physiotherapy can help you recover from breast cancer by reducing swelling, increase range of motion, and reducing pain. Physiotherapy can get you back to your regular activities faster, like brushing your hair, driving a car, and simply taking a deep breath. When you still have stitches or drains from your procedures, your movements may be more restricted but there are still physio exercises you can do to promote a full range of motion. Strength exercises can be added once your stitches and drainage devices have been removed.

Keep in mind that even when performing simple range of motion exercises, it is easy to hurt yourself when you’re recovering from breast cancer. You need professional supervision to move in the right ways at the right times.

Further, specific physio exercises can target common side effects of breast cancer. Specific movements can reduce lymphedema, a type of swelling where your body holds onto your interstitial fluid for too long. Other movements target lymphatic cording, also called axillary web syndrome. Stretching can painlessly break these cords so you can regain your arm’s full range of motion.

Pilates for Cancer Recovery

After chemotherapy and radiation, survivors often experience fatigue and weakness, on top of a weakened immune system, usually for four to six weeks afterwards. Exercise can help restore your normal energy levels and rebuild muscles.

Pilates is a particularly great exercise regimen for this task, focusing on core strength to increase your balance. It also doesn’t require you to perform heavy cardio, something few breast cancer survivors are ready for, especially when your ability to take deep breaths is likely impacted by your treatment.

Exercise has benefits beyond your muscles and energy levels. Research suggests that exercise helps your immune system strengthen after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to keep on the path to health with exercise.

Massage for Cancer Recovery

After the stress you’ve been through, a massage is probably a very appealing thought. So, feel free to treat yourself and know that your massage will further your recovery efforts. Massage relaxes you and promotes a positive frame of mind. It also helps to reduce swelling. Though you may not want your chest or shoulders massaged right now, particularly as your incisions heal, it will be more comfortable to be massaged near your sore spots, and you may find that it helps subdue painful swelling.

Besides, massage is more helpful than it seems. Research has found that massage can even help with immune function and helps to combat fatigue.

Join us as Absolute Pilates for any, or all, of these three healing practices. Feel free to contact us anytime about our programs. We wish you the best of health and comfort on your breast cancer recovery journey.

At Absolute Pilates, we offer both Pilates and yoga classes, so we often get asked about the difference between the two. While it’s true that they are quite similar, these workouts are different enough that most people have a strong preference for one over the other.

Here we’ll take a look at the key differences so that you can decide which type might be best for you.

The Core Differences

Pilates and yoga are both full-body workouts that focus on improving strength, flexibility, balance and breathing. However, Pilates focuses on the strength aspect, while yoga usually focuses more on flexibility and breathing. Most of the time when you’re in a Pilates class, you’ll be on the ground. In a yoga class, you’re more likely to be switching from standing to ground work, depending on the style.

Another key difference is that many people choose to practice yoga as part their spirituality. Even if you don’t choose to do that, you will still find most yoga classes are meditative and help you focus your mental energy on your goals. Not as many people consider adding their spiritual practices to Pilates, which tends to be more intense. Plus, Pilates involves counting reps and keeping track of sets, which doesn’t leave as much room to think.

You can learn even more about the differences between Pilates and yoga by reading about the specific kinds of classes we offer.

Pilates Classes

We offer several different Pilates classes which all offer something a little different: 

  • Osteo-Pilates: If you’re looking to add a little of that yoga flexibility and balance into your Pilates class, this might be right for you. While the class is designed to decrease the risk of fractures for those with Osteoporosis, anyone can participate and reap the benefits of better balance and bone health.
  • Stretch and Lengthen: This class also focuses on stretching more than your average Pilates class but has fewer bone health benefits than the Osteo-Pilates class.
  • Matwork Challenge: If instead you want to lean into the benefits of Pilates and improve your strength and endurance, this class will challenge you and even boost coordination.
  • Mom and Babies: After you give birth, you might be drawn to Pilates because of its focus on the core muscles, which need to recover and strengthen after your pregnancy. This class allows you to bring your little one and is a bonus bonding experience for both mom and baby!

Yoga Classes

Our yoga classes focus on those benefits that yoga does best, including breathing, focus and flexibility.

  • Hatha yoga: When most people think of yoga, they imagine Hatha yoga. It teaches beginner poses and focuses on breathing and calming to reduce cortisol and improve your focus.
  • Restorative yoga: This class is designed to align your body and mind with slow, purposeful movements that activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The benefits include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, lessening chronic pain and anxiety, and increasing oxygen levels in the blood.

There’s much to be said for the benefits of practicing both Pilates and yoga as you need both strength and flexibility to be healthy. If you’re ready to sign up for a class, feel free to register here.

Fitness

As a mother of a 4 & 2 year old I know firsthand how difficult it is to take time to exercise, eat healthy, and find time for extra sleep. I struggle to find a balance just as much as everyone else, but finding that balance can make a world of difference. (more…)

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