Age: Pilates Is Good For What Ages You
Many of our clients are middle-aged or older. They know from experience that a properly designed Pilates programme is one of the best ways to ward off the infirmities of advancing age.
Indeed, many start doing Pilates precisely because they have reached 'a certain age', realised they no longer take exercise and suddenly thought, 'I must start doing something, or else I'll fall apart'.
Joan Bakewell, the writer and broadcaster now in her seventies, swears by Pilates, which she started doing over a decade ago. She chose it, she says, because it was easy: 'I wanted something that didn't expose my own efforts to ridicule and contempt. That is, I had to be able to do it.
Two other things; I didn't want exercises that left me puffing and red in the face, nor did I want to pound machines. What I wanted was subtlety, thoughtfulness and my own place in a quiet and peaceful setting.'
Bakewell cites 'a tremendous sense of well-being' as one of the main benefits of Pilates. But there's more: 'It is wonderful for injuries,' she says. 'And rehabilitation of patients is quicker, easier and less costly if they are basically fit and able.'
The writer Martin Amis is another devotee of Pilates. 'These [Pilates] exercises are really very necessary when you do a lot of sitting', he says. 'They keep you flexible enough to pull on your socks as you get older… When I get out of the car now, I don't go arrggghhh…'
Pilates is the ideal choice for the busy, middle-aged person looking for a gentle and enjoyable way back to long-term fitness.
Meanwhile, one of the beauties of Pilates is that we tailor it to suit each person, whatever their age or physical condition.
Most Pilates exercises are low-impact and partially weight-bearing, which is good for the prevention of osteoporosis, the brittle-bone disease. The gentle routines build strength and improve posture, flexibility and agility. They are also good for balance, another plus for the fall-prone elderly.
Older clients still might have to ask medical advice before taking up Pilates and to start more slowly. For most, however, Pilates is both a safe and effective workout, which many do into their eighties, nineties and beyond.
In the end, Joseph Pilates liked to reflect, your true age is as much a function of how you feel as it is of the date on your birth certificate; or, as he himself put it, 'If, at the age of 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If, at 60, you are supple and strong, then you are young.'
Pilates himself was also probably the best single advertisement for the benefits of the exercise technique that bears his name, since he was lively, active and still teaching until his death - from a fire at his studio - at the age of 87.