It is widely known that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is getting back into shape.
Unfortunately, that resolution is often abandoned by February, because the zeal and effort in which it was begun is not sustainable in the long term. We often forget the sensible advice of ‘smart small’, instead opting for ‘go all out’. No surprise, then, that the noble aspiration of getting fit crashes and burns in a month.
But what if you did start small? And what if you focused just on your core, those muscles that support and stabilize every move you make? Abdominals, back, pelvis, and shoulders. If you took some classes in Pilates, that popular exercise you’ve been hearing about for years, you would be taking a great step in not only getting fit, but also preventing future injuries.
Having a strong core is essential when it comes to exercise. Cindi Began, a certified Pilates instructor, explains that strengthening these muscles is critical for any active movement. “The human body is an incredible creation. It has the ability to compensate for weak areas in ways that you don’t even notice. Until it can’t compensate any more. That’s when injury occurs.”
Have you thought about trying Pilates but were scared away by those scary-looking ‘torture devices’ that seem to go along with the practice? No need to be frightened. Using the machine is usually a perfect way to start as a beginner. Cindi clarifies that the machine, “meets your body where it is in terms of ability.
Depending on the needs of the individual, the settings on the machine can be adjusted so that the exercises are harder or easier.” In fact, starting with a Pilates class that just uses a yoga mat might actually cause injury if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s because some of the floor exercises may be too advanced for a beginner. And the floor can’t be adjusted to make the exercise easier.
That complicated-looking Pilates machine can be used for over 500 exercises. And as you progress and the core grows stronger, the springs can be adjusted to make the motions more advanced. Even accomplished athletes find the Pilates machine useful. That’s because they still use their arms and legs (strengthening and toning), but they keep their core engaged the entire time. It becomes an all-over body workout.
After regular practice of Pilates, the benefits become obvious. Along with a stronger, toned core, Pilates enthusiasts notice better posture and alignment, more balanced muscles, and fewer injuries. Regular Pilates practitioners also find that they are more mindful and aware of how they move. Older adults enjoy the social aspect of the classes and also gain more independence as they move better and become stronger. But Cindi advocates starting young. “The earlier you start working on strengthening your core, the better it is in the long term. It will help immensely with issues down the road and definitely makes injures less common.”
Starting with Pilates just once or twice a week can make a healthy difference in the core muscles. Cindi schedules appointments Monday through Friday at her Mint Hill studio, Vital Movement, for individuals and small groups (of similar ability) and incorporates a mix of machine work and floor work. She also offers TRX, yoga, and physical therapy for those dealing with injuries.
Maybe by starting small with your 2017 exercise effort, you’ll make it to June without even realizing that your New Year’s resolution didn’t crash and burn like it usually does. And when your amazing abs, strong back, and buff shoulders get all kinds of compliments, you’ll realize that starting small can actually pay off big.