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5 Myths of Pilates

Pilates and yoga are the same thing

First of all, yes, pilates and yoga focus on many of the same goals however THEY ARE DIFFERENT EXERCISE REGIMES! They both work on strength, flexibility, postural alignment and stability (which is amazing; and what I love to teach). However, yoga originates from India and is often part of a much larger spiritual philosophy and way of life. Yoga can often push the body to its limits – particularly with flexibility and extension of the joints – it may be too extreme for some body types or people with injuries.

Pilates, on the other hand, was developed as part of injury rehabilitation and focuses on strengthening the muscles. Pilates takes a controlled and monitored approach and is full of movements that support a healthy back and joints through strengthening core muscles and stabilising any weaknesses in the body.

Pilates is only for women

ooooh yes – this is a very common misconception – and I’m going to stop you right there. Pilates was founded by a man (Joseph Pilates) to help rehabilitate bedridden soldiers during wartime so there’s no way it’s limited to “just for women”. Unfortunately the likes of LuluLemon and Lorna Jane have re-shaped the views of Pilates with their advertisements and branding (which I am not knocking – I wear and love both brands!)

While it is true that pilates is often thought of as a women’s only activity (due to its low impact nature, focus on pelvic stability and core strengthening and its association with women who are pre and post-natal) it’s been adapted to suit so many different needs and can complement weight training, running and elite sports performance for both men and women. In fact, a lot of professional athletes now include pilates in their workout regime. And hey, if it’s good enough for Lebron James, it’s good enough for us!

Pilates is limited to developing core strength

Having a stronger connection to our core (and having stronger abs) is definitely a wonderful side effect of a regular pilates routine… but it’s not the only benefit!!

While we do focus on integrating pelvic stability and core-strengthening exercises into each session, pilates is really a full body workout. Some fun trivia: pilates was originally called ‘contrology’, so it’s no surprise that control and body awareness are a big part of pilates workout regimes. Because pilates delivers a unique blend of strength training, balance, coordination and postural work, it also creates a mind-body connection that focuses on technique and mindfulness.

Pilates is easy – it’s just lying on a mat stretching

This is another favourite of mine. Confession – I love to hear people say this because anyone who says this has clearly never done pilates before! Pilates is a challenging workout – but it’s different to other forms of exercise like running or going to the gym. And this is when I love to explain that Pilates works by strengthening the smaller, stabilising muscles, as well as incorporating full body compound movements to create a balanced (and hard) workout.

What we do at Free Movement – Mat pilates which uses your body weight and other small props such as balls/rings to achieve “the delicious burn”. These props will produce much different results to that of reformer pilates (specialised pilates equipment that adds resistance and load), and both will challenge the body in different ways. I love sharing the strengths of Pilates – so never hesitate to ask me.

You have to be flexible to do pilates  

“Pilates is just like yoga” – something I hear often! A lot of people think you need to be flexible to do pilates but this couldn’t be further from the truth! One of the best things that I LOVE about pilates is that classes and exercises can be modified for EVERYONE. Pilates is people of all ages and abilities – including those who struggle to touch their toes! I believe one of the greatest strengths of pilates training, and the joy I get in teaching…is teaching someone how to move their body which will gradually improve mobility and flexibility.

A great side effect of this is a reduction in pain and risk of injury, not the ability to do a backbend.

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