Each exercise is based on eight different principles:
- Core Stability
- Flowing Movements
You must be consciously aware of your body and it’s movements, otherwise you cease to learn, you ‘just do’. Failure to concentrate will result in loss of alignment and/or recruitment of the wrong muscles. Body Control Pilates® requires you to train the mind as well as the body because the two are undoubtedly connected.
Over dominant muscles will continue to be overactive unless they are switched off, so it is important to relax and lengthen short, tight muscles before you try and strengthen weak ones, otherwise, the tight muscles will inhibit the action and a faulty movement pattern will continue with strength gained by ‘trick’ movements.
Recognising areas of undue tension, relaxing the body before you start each exercise and then focusing attention on the relevant area will lead to sound muscle recruitment patterns as well as greatly reducing the risk of injury and adding to the calming effect of a session.
Joseph Pilates said, “Squeeze out the lungs as you would wring a wet towel dry. Soon the entire body is charged with fresh oxygen from toes to fingertips, just as the head of the steam in a boiler rushes to every radiator in the house.”
He wanted the lungs to be squeezed of every last ounce of air so as much air as possible could be inhaled to charge the body with oxygen. He saw correct breathing as a way of cleansing the body, increasing oxygen levels, stimulating circulation and digestion. Deep breathing can also act like an internal massage for the organs, particularly the liver and heart. It also releases endorphins and natural brain chemicals that make us feel good.
Few people breathe properly. The benefits of good breathing are well documented and are especially relevant when exercising. Correct breathing techniques are central to the Body Control Pilates® Method. When asked to take a deep breath, people usually either breath too shallowly in the upper chest or throw out their abdominals. The deep abdominal breathing practised in yoga is wonderful but not applicable to Body Control Pilates® as it is inhibited by the use of the core abdominal muscles. It is impossible to keep a strong centre and to practise deep abdominal breathing at the same time. Lateral/thoracic breathing is taught in Body Control Pilates®, making maximum use of the expansion of the ribcage and therefore the lower lungs. It is a very efficient way of breathing and also promotes flexibility in the upper body.
Body Control Pilates® uses the timing of the breath to maximise the effectiveness of the movements. Each exercise has it’s own breathing pattern which can differ for beginners, intermediate and advanced. As a general rule for beginners:
- Inhale to prepare for movement
- Exhale on the movement
- Inhale to recover
This timing complements the use of the abdominals as transverses abdominus, a stabilising muscle of the abdomen, is the muscle of forced exhalation. It also ensures that the breath is not held or excessive tension created anywhere in the body. When stretching, it encourages relaxing into the stretch.
The goal is for the individual to recognise good alignment themselves, so they can take this knowledge into their everyday activities. Great attention is paid to correct alignment to ensure good muscle recruitment.
The creation of a ‘girdle of strength’ is one of the main aims of Body Control Pilates®. Abdominal training is key with every exercise to support and protect the spine.
A typical training programme will begin with awareness training to help the individual release tension and maintain correct alignment. Then lateral/thoracic breathing with co-ordinated centring with movement is taught. Small range motion skills to isolate the key muscles are taught initially, moving on to more challenging choreographed sequences, but always with the core stabilised and correct alignment. Co-ordination skills are finely tuned as the mind and body work together to perform the advanced exercises.
All Body Control Pilates® movements are controlled, graceful and flowing, lengthening outwards from a strong centre. Muscles are worked with control through their full range of movement and in different combinations, resulting in long, lean muscles with greater strength. Control is paramount. It is harder to perform an exercise slowly and under control, rather than quickly.
Stamina is both an end goal and an end result. Good recruitment pattern results in efficient movement – you learn to use minimum effort to do a task, which frees up your energy. Body Control Pilates® works on all systems of the body and naturally increases stamina. However, Pilates is not an aerobic workout, although some of the advanced sequences are cardiovascular, therefore, it is advisable to combine Body Control Pilates® with some aerobic style exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming. Even in the absence of other activity, stamina is increased and in particular, the postural muscles will have greater endurance. Go to the Aerobics Timetable for the current list of classes.