After knocking out a very cool 8 miles in the sun yesterday I went to bed feeling like a warrior and woke up feeling like a total wreck. Needing to give my tired limbs a break from pounding the Redways, I jumped (as much as was physically possible) at the chance of a free Pilates session. So with my water bottle, towel, baggiest t-shirt and stretchiest leggings, I sat outside the studios in the pissing rain thinking how much rest I would’ve given my little legs if I’d just stayed at home on the sofa with a bacon butty and a lovely strong black coffee and watched Homes Under the Hammer.
After watching a few people head towards the front door, my desire to run into the Subway sandwich shop next door increased but no! I needed to strengthen my flabby core so I headed towards the front door and up the stairs to reception where I was greeted by a warm smile and a friendly hello. Whilst completing the obligatory medical forms with the promise of not suing them should my leg become permanently stuck behind my head, I took a scan around the waiting area and nervously smiled at the ladies waiting to go in, realising that I was just about to spend an hour in a room with a bunch of ladies twice my age – how hard could it be right?
It’s NOT about touching your toes
Not many exercise classes I know start off with the instructor telling you to lie down and relax but that’s what we were told and quite frankly, after the night I’d had with the terror tot, I wasn’t going to argue. Lights were dimmed, soft music played in the background and just as the first sounds of gentle snoring begun, in walked the instructor to put us through our paces.
The first shock I had was that this class wasn’t going to get me to touch my toes – always a bonus, given that I haven’t seen them in years, let alone touched them. The second shock I had was that no sweat was lost in the making of the Pilates session! No sweat? I hear you shout. Surely you didn’t put enough effort in to it. Well let me tell you this folks, effort was very much put into this session, deep down into the very core of my being, little muscles have been awakened and they’re royally pissed off about it too!. Muscles, long forgotten by time, now ache and in places I never thought could ache but I feel strong and proud that I put my body through that and it’s still talking to me.
An hour later, after we’d stretched, and bent, and pulsed and breathed our way through some serious floor work, we said our farewells and shakily made our way back down the stairs (why! why would you put this class up a great big flight of stairs I ask you) to our getaway vehicles.
Yoga Vs Pilates
To a beginner like me Yoga and Pilates are one of the same thing, however I have been reliably informed by our lovely instructor that whilst Yoga can be used to improve flexibility in my mummified body, Pilates focuses on trying to relax and strengthen muscles and for a mum of 2 girls I need to be relaxed enough not to kill them and strong enough not to string them up.
The practice of Yoga originated in India when I was but a mere child approx. 5000 years ago. Pilates is its younger cousin and only began in the mid-20th century by an athlete named Joseph Pilates. It was created as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening and is known for increasing muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and posture, better balance and ultimately a strong core and all these good things lead to better running.
Some of the key benefits of adding Pilates into your weekly run schedule includes:
- Being able to run more efficiently as your core becomes stronger
- Increasing your speed – flexible, lean muscles run faster than bulky ones
- Quicker recovery – muscles that are in better condition, recover quicker
- Strengthening your spine which can help prevent lower back pain
- Loosens up the old hip flexors (have you read the one about the mum with a dodgy hip?)
So as I sit at home now with a bacon butty in one hand, a strong black coffee in the other, I congratulate my pelvic floor muscles for not releasing any bodily fluids, or gases, as we worked on those long lost core muscles, I congratulate myself on being able to get up off the floor at the end keeping my dignity in tact but most of all I congratulate myself on facing the unknown and potential embarrassment head on and loving every second of it. I can see the potential in this Pilates stuff and can see it fitting quite nicely into my running schedule. Why don’t you bite the bullet and give it a bash – you won’t be disappointed.