Dance, Dancers and Pilates

Why do dancers use Pilates equipment?

Using Pilates equipment in the studio strengthens, lengthens and tones the muscles. At the same time it also improves posture and increases flexibility and balance. Hardly surprising then that, long before Pilates was known to a wider audience, dancers were the first to discover it. Indeed such legendary figures of the dance world as Martha Graham and George Balanchine were among Joseph Pilates’ most devoted clients at his original studio, in New York.

Today, the British ballerina Darcy Bussell is a great advocate of Pilates and has written a book extolling its virtues (‘Pilates for Life’ by Darcy Bussell, Penguin Books). ‘As a young dancer I was very supple and needed to know how to control my body,’ she says.

‘Pilates was an excellent way for me to learn how to do this. On the whole, dancers use this method because it is the best way to exercise every muscle in the body without over-developing anything and creating bulk muscle.’

Dancers suffer multiple injuries and here Pilates is also useful, helping to pinpoint injured areas and focusing specific exercises on the damaged muscle. Pilates can also help to focus the mind and improve the mental state during recovery. Therefore, using Pilates equipment is a key part of many dancers strategy for injury recovery and prevention.

Such is the popularity of Pilates amongst dancers and the dance world, a desire to conduct research into this field has arisen. One such small study gave dancers a workout sequence of 12 Pilates abdominal exercises. They were asked to conduct the workout three times a week for 4 months. Afterwards, the researchers found that the Pilates exercises had not only increased core strength, but also increased abdominal endurance. You can read more about this study at: the Texas A & M Dance Program.

Dancers at Pilates Central

Most of the teachers at Pilates Central are themselves former dancers. At some point they have used Pilates to avoid and/or recover from dance-related injuries. As a result, they are happy to share their experiences. ‘Dancing is all about aesthetics’, says Peter Ottevanger, the head teacher of Pilates Central and himself a former dancer. ‘So, while dancers have to be strong, they can’t be bulky. Pilates is all about gaining strength without bulk.’

If you are a professional dancer, or an amateur who enjoys some form of dance, why not contact us to find out how we can help you address current issue and avoid future injuries. It would be a pleasure to help you!

Pilates for Running

Are you a runner who is interested in Pilates for back pain or to prevent injuries?

Here at Pilates Central we cater to all types of runners. Runners do Pilates most of all because it builds long, strong muscles, improves their flexibility and lessens their risk of injury. The way that Pilates opens up the vertebrae in the lower back, in particular, helps prevent the sort of back injuries which can result from the constant impact involved in running. In fact many of our clients visit us because they have heard of the benefits of utilising Pilates for back pain.

Why running and Pilates naturally go well together

Running and Pilates, however, also complement each perfectly at what might called a deeper, philosophical level.

Good runners run tall. They don’t hunch, lean, push with their hips or tighten through the neck and shoulders. They avoid pounding the ground with every stride. Their movement is smooth and light. There is both an economy and an integrity to their form.

Good runners pay attention. Instead of seeing a run as an excuse to zone out with the iPod, they see it as a chance to develop their kinaesthetic awareness. For example, they see it as an opportunity to:

  • Explore the feel of their feet on the ground how balanced their head is on the neck and spine
  • Examine whether a mild ache in their leg has caused them to run more heavily than they would wish
  • Observe whether their ankles and knees are releasing in sequence
  • Notice how their breathing patterns have changed as the workload becomes more demanding

This approach makes running as much a mental activity as a physical one – very much like Pilates.

Just as you arrive at Pilates Central with an expectation that the session ahead will be a process of learning and discovery, so a run should be viewed as an act of creativity. For example: staying present, responding intelligently to the situation, finding alternative ways to achieve your goal. Every run is different – just like every Pilates class. The outcome is similar too. You finish feeling refreshed and de-stressed.

To find out for yourself how similar running and Pilates are, why not stop by the studio and find out about your classes? We would love to show you how we work. You can visit our location page for how to find us, or alternatively call us for a quick chat.

Pilates for Cycling

Cycling, Pilates, & Lower and Upper Back Pain Exercises

Cycling is such a popular sport nowadays, yet unfortunately at both the professional and amateur level cyclists encounter problems relating to posture. While it may be great cardiovascular exercise, the modern bike is not a masterpiece of efficient design. It also does not promote a healthy posture. Indeed, it does quite the opposite! This is the main reason that many cyclists do Pilates. Here at Pilates Central, we believe that even more cyclists should consider Pilates classes. Not only to help address these problems, but also to prevent them. We do this by utilising both lower and upper back pain exercises, in addition to assessing and working on the whole body.

The Bike Causes Back Problems

Old-fashioned ‘sit-up-and-beg’ cycles were far better suited to a comfortable riding position. This was because the upper body was held still and the spine lengthened. Modern mountain and racing bikes require a more hunched posture with the head placed low over the front wheel. This causes excessive bending of the lumbar spine, a forward rotation of the hips and pelvis, and shortening of the back of the neck due to the need to look forward and see where you’re going. Many committed cyclists also suffer from a shortening of the hamstrings. As a result, many cyclists find that they suffer pain, and this is something that attending regular Pilates classes can help to address.

How Can Pilates Help Cyclists?

Just as runners can use Pilates to enhance their body awareness and condition efficient patterns of movement, so many cyclists also use it. They find it helps to restore postural alignment, to shift the spine back into position, and to open up the chest. This helps to ease and prevent back pain and also relieves the tension caused by sitting for long periods in a mechanically unsound position.

In fact not only does Pilates address postural issues, cycling-related pain and injuries, but it also improves performance. As a result, you become stronger, and more efficient on the bike. This helps you to be a better cyclist. The stretching and lengthening exercises help to address short and tight muscles such as the hamstrings. A fact which British Cycling blogger Chris Walker talks about in his blog post about taking up Pilates for cycling. These exercises also help to increase flexibility, which is an issue for many cyclists.

To find out how Pilates may help you, why not give us a call or visit the Pilates Central studio. We are only a short walk from Angel tube station. You can find out how to contact us on our contact page or for directions visit our location page.

Pilates for Skiing and Snowboarding

Have you booked a ski trip? You should now be looking for: Pilates classes near me!

It is a familiar story: you book your skiing or snowboarding holiday and eagerly look forward to it. Yet after a first day of enthusiastic snowplow turns, you need a forklift truck to winch yourself back out again. Most of us who ski and only take to the slopes once a year experience this phenomenon. Unfortunately it can really affect your enjoyment of the long-awaited trip. So next time, as soon as you book your trip, if not before, you should be Googling: Pilates classes near me. In fact, now you’ve found us, you don’t even need to do that! Just read on, if you need persuading how Pilates can help you avoid this problem in the future.

So why does it happen?

If you are wondering why this happens, it’s because so-called ‘ski fitness’ classes offered by some fitness establishments target the major muscle groups, particularly in the legs. Unfortunately, they overlook the core muscles that help to maintain the dynamic, balanced posture. This posture is essential for safe and efficient skiing.

‘Most skiers overtax their big muscles because they haven’t learned how to use their core muscles,’ says Caroline Lalive, the Olympic downhill racer.

Pilates & Cardiovascular Exercise

Pilates is not designed to address the cardiovascular demands of skiing. In order to meet them, you need to do also regular aerobic training. It is tiredness due to decreased fitness levels that results in loss of concentration and increases the risk of an accident.

Instead, Pilates challenges the deep abdominal muscles to support the core. This creates a strong, flexible, resilient structure. The core-factor is essential to coping with the simple fact of having solid objects strapped to the feet that, for beginners, don’t always go in the direction you want them to. It also helps counteract the twists and turns of the slope, and improves the ability to get up unscathed when you take a tumble. So Pilates classes should be used in addition to your regular cardio workout.

For advanced skiers, activating the body’s stabilising muscles helps maintain balance and poise at greater speed or off-piste – so, not only will you feel like Bode Miller with the breeze in your hair, you might even look like him, too. Helping to maintain your balance at a greater speed should also help you to avoid injuries.

How can Pilates Central help me before I depart?

Searching for Pilates classes near me? Find out about Pilates Central’s classes and opening times on our times and prices page. We are based in Islington near Angel tube, and are open seven days a week, with classes scheduled daily. If you would like to informally discuss how we might be able to help you before your next winter ski or snowboarding trip, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Pilates for Football and Rugby

A Pilates Instructor Helps Both Football and Rugby Players Benefit From Pilates

Many top footballers and rugby players are using Pilates as a way of improving co-ordination, mobility and flexibility. Players find it is a wonderful tool for recovering from injuries, as well as preventing them in the first place. These elements are all individually focused on by each Pilates instructor in our Pilates classes. They are the key benefits to regularly attending a Pilates classes at Pilates Central.

Pilates and Professional Footballers & Rugby Players

In the quest for the winning edge, modern footballers and rugby players will often latch on to any number of fitness techniques. This is especially the case if they believe it will help them where it matters most – on the pitch. Both codes of rugby, in particular, exemplify this thinking. Pilates exercises have long been incorporated into both preparation for matches and rehabilitation after injuries. In fact, the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates.

Football managers such as Arsène Wenger of Arsenal, meanwhile, have long preached the crucial importance of stretching, suppleness and flexibility. These are the very things that Pilates does best. Indeed, Pilates exercises should be used more widely than they currently are. For example, they should be used in pre-match warm-up routines.

Avoiding Injuries Via Pilates Training

Both football and rugby can be physically grueling. Thus draining bodies that may already be fatigued. However, recent years have brought a growing willingness to look outside the sport for ideas. This is particularly seen in a desire to address the injury toll associated with over-training of certain muscle groups.

Weight training is an essential aspect of training for players of both sports. Yet a body that has been bulked up in the gym can become rigid and restricted in its range of movement. Take, for example, the popular pec-deck machine. It may produce an impressive upper torso, yet the movement required is unlike anything found on a sports field or even in everyday life.

With both football and rugby demanding rapid directional changes often at near-maximum pace, an inflexible physique is unhelpful. Rugby forwards must also possess the ability to deliver controlled power from the unbalanced body positions adopted in the scrum. A Pilates programme can greatly improve general mobility and enhance core strength. A the same time as easing the stress placed on the neck and spine during intense scrummaging.

It is well known that hamstring tears are also common in both sports. A properly qualified Pilates instructor, such as our teachers at Pilates central, will always expertly tailor each Pilates programme. This ensures that we are focusing on the stabiliser muscles of the pelvis (the buttocks and groin muscles), and this helps to prevent hamstring tears. Here are Pilates Central we help both Rugby and Football players to embrace a Pilates routine that benefits their respective sports. You can too! Contact us for more details.