fitness and dance

10 mistakes you should never make in Pilates class

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Pilates is a great way to introduce a holistic fitness system to your weekly regimen, but if you’re a newcomer there are mistakes that are all too easy to make. Here are 10 mistakes you should never make in a Pilates class:

  1. Bracing instead of breathing

Good breathing is fundamental to good Pilates practice. Breathing well gives stamina and support and helps you to engage your core muscle group correctly so that each movement carries the lowest possible chance of injury.

  1. Forgetting your alignment

Your alignment – the position and coordination of your spine, limbs, and muscles, is crucial for physical wellbeing and good back health. In Pilates class, remember to be aware of and maintain good alignment throughout each move, both upon beginning and completing.

  1. Overusing pelvic muscles when they aren’t needed

Although the pelvic floor helps to support you through abdominal exercises, it’s possible to cause injury by overworking this key muscle group. Be careful that you only engage your Pelvic floor as much as necessary to complete each movement.

  1. Forgetting to engage your actual core

The core – the series of muscles extending from your back to your abs and pelvis – helps you to carry out physical activities with stability and strength. In Pilates class, focus on learning to engage your whole core so that you are not placing undue pressure on one particular muscle group.

  1. Doing your favourite moves instead of what your body needs

We all have favourite moves and exercises in Pilates, but remember to be balanced and to do all the exercises your body needs. If you only focus on a favourite, this could lead to counter-productive muscle strain.

  1. Making powerful rather than effortless movements

Once you have a strong core, your movements will naturally be stronger and more powerful, underwritten by strong core structure. But to get there you need to practice movements that bring you the maximum result without excessive effort. The straining effort could cause injury.

  1. Being competitive with your neighbour

Because of its athletic and adrenalin-boosting nature, a fitness method can make us feel competitive in group environments. Yet being competitive with your neighbour can distract you from engaging muscles correctly, and may lead you to over-extend. Instead, focus on improving your form and matching your own personal bests.

  1. Rushing each movement

Measured and graceful movements are core to good Pilates practice. It is far preferable to complete each movement with good form than rush and not experience the full benefit of each movement.

9. Creating unnecessary neck tension

 

A stiff and tense neck can become painful and cause further tension down the spine that is bad for your back. When you perform ab exercises in Pilates class, take care not to hold your neck at an awkward angle or use your neck muscles to lift your back off the mat.

  1. Leaving your Pilates learnings in the classroom

Pilates equips you with core and back-strengthening exercises you can perform at home with a mat and supports but remember to take every lesson you learn in class with you for in-home practice. If possible, find a floor length mirror that will let you see that you keep good form.

Want to get going with a holistic fitness approach this summer? Find out more about Belinda’s Pilates classes now.

5 benefits of ballet barre Pilates

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The Pilates fitness approach pioneered by Joseph Pilates has long been popular in the dance world. Ballet dancers practice Pilates because it develops core strength while promoting long, elegantly-shaped muscles.  Ballet barre Pilates is a hybrid form of Pilates practice that incorporates the barre (a stationary handrail that is used for balancing and warm-up exercises in ballet training) along with poses from yoga.

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These are 5 of the benefits of ballet barre Pilates:

  1. Ballet barre Pilates is kind on joints

Many fitness approaches, including cross-training, are hard on the joints. Impact activities such as jogging contribute to joint degeneration over time, whereas ballet barre Pilates uses natural body resistance to provide a good workout that doesn’t place undue stress on the joints. This makes it especially useful as a fitness approach for dancers who wish to maintain and increase their mobility and flexibility.

  1. It offers a full workout

 The second benefit of ballet barre Pilates is that it provides a full body workout. Stretches are typically incorporated into classes to ensure that no single muscle group is overworked or inadequately warmed up.

  3. It can be modified for every experience level

Whether you have experience in ballet training or none at all, you can take part in a ballet barre Pilates class. Movements are small and easily learned but effective for toning, elongating the limbs and attaining general physical fitness.

            4. Exercises involving the barre increase core strength

Many exercises that involve the barre include corporate balancing and this helps to tone while building core strength. Building a strong core reduces your risk of injury through exercise, and has additional benefits such as improving posture.

             5.  Ballet barre Pilates combines the gracefulness of ballet with the fun                     of a workout

The steps and poses learned in ballet training are graceful and are excellent for developing good posture. Yet ballet barre classes offer the best of both worlds: The sleek elegance of ballet and the sociable workout of a group fitness class.

In addition to the five benefits outlined above, this particular type of Pilates fosters flexibility and yields rapid results. If you exercise two to four times weekly, you’re likely to see changes within a month (including improved posture, more toned thighs, arms as well as flatter abs). If you’re interested in finding out more about ballet barre Pilates, attend an introductory class this week.