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Pilates power

It gives you the grace of a ballerina, turbo boosts your body and mind, and can even roll back the years. Why it's time to take up Pilates!

two women doing reformer pilates

I don’t hold much with New Year’s resolutions as I already disappoint myself enough, but I have decided that this will be the year that I take up Pilates. There’s a big birthday on the horizon and I reckon it’ll be just the thing to help me springboard into a new decade.

I’ve been percolating the idea for a good few months now, ever since I visited One Grove studio in Cheltenham, an incredibly friendly place that makes you feel welcome whatever your age or ability and is infectiously evangelical about the benefits of Pilates.

yellow flowers in reception at One Grove studio Cheltenham

The homely reception area

Owner Lucy Whitehead gave up a City career to pursue her passion, nay vocation, opening One Grove in January 2017 (happy birthday One Grove!) and she’s already been joined by some of the most experienced teachers from across the world, from Bali to Greece to Canada.

The lovely Lucy Whitehead, a walking advert for Pilates

Here, she explains just some of the amazing benefits of the exercise system that reaches the parts other fitness regimes don’t touch.

It keeps you balanced

Nearly every sport is asymmetric (think of a golf, tennis or squash swing) or it only works in a certain plane of movement (think of the single forward direction in running and cycling). Exercises within Pilates challenge all of our three planes of motion and serve our right and left sides as much as the front, back and side of our body. Pilates helps you lessen your risk of injury through repetitive strain by using three-dimensional muscular and fascial trains.

It connects your brain to your body

We are pretty highly functioning in our heads but sadly, our bodies haven’t really kept up to speed in the modern world. Even if we find the time to train out of work (or busy family life), often we are set in particular muscle usage patterns and aren’t using important muscle groups properly. Exercises done on the Pilates Equipment forces you to consider how you move and gives immediate feedback if you don’t move properly. In a Pilates class, you learn how to re-inhabit your body and make your body move exactly how you want it to. In other words, you re-wire and re-connect your brain to your body.

It boosts your brain power

While there are basic principles that apply to every move in Pilates, Equipment instructors like to mix things up so that every session you do has new challenges.  And we’re not just being playful – new experiences promote brain cell growth. If you find yourself doing the same things in every Pilates class, look for a more experienced instructor or a better equipped studio. It’s more beneficial for your brain and your body to try new moves and play with different tools like barrels, hoops, sticks and various weighted and sized balls, even in a mat work class.

It makes you strong

The spring weight resistances that we use on the Reformer, Cadillac and Chairs can be varied so that you have significant forces to work against. And not just through the traditional ‘body-builder’ muscle groups either. Pilates works your musculoskeletal system from the inside out so that your stabilizer and deeper core muscles learn to get in the game too. This increases your overall power as every muscle group works to its full capacity.

It’s restorative and keeps aging at bay

Both the breath pattern in Pilates and the fact that the work is generally non-cardiovascular means that you aren’t spiking your adrenal system. Pilates plays to the ‘rest and repair’ systems in the body and doesn’t push you into a state of ‘fight or flight’. Full-range joint motions promote circulation of the blood and lymphatic systems, spinal articulation helps re-nourish intervertebral discs and deep abdominal exercise allows the abdominal contents to optimally align. If you have undergone surgery, Pilates Equipment, in particular, provides a supportive environment in which to exercise without unwanted loading. There’s even an argument that Pilates can be anti-aging! Read more here.

two women doing reformer pilates

One Grove offers a range of Pilates Equipment and Mat classes, both Faster and Gentle levels, as well as Seated and Rehab Pilates for those with health issues. It also offers yoga and barre classes, private sessions and physiotherapy support.

1 Grove Street, Cheltenham, Glos GL50 3LZ (tip: it’s a short walk from Waitrose where you can park easily). Tel: 01242 255111.

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