Let’s take a trip back to March 2014 (I know, long way back). My now 2-year old was just shy of a year and I wasn’t any closer to feeling like my old self. Yes, I was frustrated that my body looked stretched out in strange places and my belly button, something I loved so much I used to buy shirts showing it off (college days), now looked like an old man frowning, but that wasn’t what was really getting to me. Ever since my eighth month of pregnancy my hip nerves seem to be in all-out assault against the rest of my body. The pain was so intense when I walked I had to take Motrin to hide it. My hips had hurt during my last pregnancy, but after birth they went back to a relative normal. This wasn’t happening now, and I was tired of being in misery.
It’s fortuitous what a simple lunch date can bring. I met my girlfriend at South Creek Pizza and after a wonderful lunch we walked by the Pilates Studio of Reno, owned and operated by Sophia Sefchick. She had a sample going on and my friend suggested we give it a try. I didn’t take much convincing. Frankly, I was looking for a new workout routine that didn’t involve pushing a stroller and I had done mat Pilates in the past and ached for days. After my first session on the reformer, I was hooked (pun intended).
Within the first few sessions, I was feeling a major difference. My hips felt more open, and walking was no longer accompanied by shooting pain up and down my sciatic. Intrigued, I did some research as to what other benefits Pilates offers.
- Pilates improves your posture. Posture is one of the most important aspects of a fit body. Good posture means a supported spine, unimpeded blood flow, and better health. The goal of Pilates is to fight the never-ending push gravity forces on your spine. That is why the majority of Pilates exercises are completed while you lay either on your back or stomach. In this position, your spine isn’t subjected to the effects of gravity and you are forced to correct imbalances that make you slouch. The ultimate goal for any Pilates student is to always remain cognizant of your body so mind and body are one.
- Pilates builds power in your core. Without a doubt, Pilates is focused on improving all your muscles, but every move in Pilates (when done correctly) activates your core muscle group. Joseph Pilates referred to this as your Powerhouse. This includes your upper and lower abs, lower back, buttocks, and inner thighs. These muscles are important because they support your spine.
- Pilates improves your breathing. Breath is very important while practicing Pilates. As you go through the exercises you are meant to time your breath to be in sync with your movements, inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. This keeps your mind focused and has the added benefit of insuring that you are getting enough oxygen to your working muscles, improving circulation to all your major organs.
- Pilates improves blood flow, which keeps you healthier. As mentioned above, Pilates improves your circulation. Better circulation means your vital organs do a better job at flushing out toxins that build up in our system through diet and lifestyle. Removal of these toxins make you feel healthier and make you less prone to illness.
- Pilates helps remove aches and pains. So much of our industrialized life is different from what our bodies are designed to do. Humans were not meant to spend most of the day sitting. This sedentary lifestyle not only leads to health issues, but it also causes undo aches and pains throughout our bodies, but especially in our spinal region where we sit slouched at a desk. Pilates can help correct these imbalances by flexing the spine and strengthening the muscles that support it. With proper alignment, a majority of aches and pains disappear.
- Pilates increases your flexibility. Flexibility is often looked at as non-vital to your overall health, but it is perhaps one of the most important aspects. Limber people are less likely to get injured during exercise since it enables your joints to move through their full range of motion and muscles to work most effectively. In fact, flexible people inevitably get a better workout doing the same motions as those who aren’t.
- Pilates doesn’t have an age limit. How many middle-aged men do you see playing football? Many high-impact sports become increasingly impossible to do as we age. Wear on the body and risk of injury start to outweigh the benefits of participating in such activities and we slowly slump into a sedentary lifestyle. Eventually muscles atrophy and we become weak. Walk into any Pilates studio and you will find students ranging from 16-75+. Joseph Pilates practiced until his death at age 88. With its low-impact resistance, it is possible to continue to build and maintain a strong and lean body well into your twilight years.
For me, weekly Pilates has given me back the use of my body without pain. If I miss a few sessions, my hips let me know it. I am so grateful to my girlfriend who suggested we try it and to all the instructors at Pilates Studio of Reno. Without a doubt, Pilates is the most rewarding exercise I have ever done and I look forward to a long and happy relationship with it.
Editor’s Note: Reformer Pilates classes are also offered at Reno Moms Blog sponsor Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.