Slow and steady helps to build your mind/body connection
Just in case you are not aware, today is International Pilates Day! So Happy Pilates Day to you! On this day when we celebrate all things Pilates-related, just what is it about this form of exercise that has seen it grow to become so popular with people of all ages and fitness levels.?
Yes, it can make you stronger, more flexible and improve your balance but if you had to pick out one benefit, what would be? For me as a teacher, listening to student comments after classes - especially those I do in gyms where clients often attend other types of fitness classes - LBT, body pump or lift weights, etc. I would have to say it's the requirement of doing movements with precision and good technique which improves their awareness of how they move and proprioception. It gives them a connection with their bodies that they don't get with other activities. The beauty is, that they then have greater awareness of how they move in other classes and sports activities or just in their everyday movement patterns. Only recently a client who hadn't been for a while said, "This has been so useful! It's just reminded me of all the things I should be applying in my other classes that I haven't been doing and I can feel it so much more."
One of the ways in which which we gain this connection, is by slowing things down. We sometimes increase the tempo depending on the exercise and what we are trying to achieve but generally, Pilates has less of a cardio element and is a slower form of exercise than other gym classes. Taking your time with the movements within an exercise enables you to develop a better mind and body connection, gives you time to bring in both conscious breathwork and awareness as to whether you are executing the movement correctly and feeling it where you should.
Pilates is not a competition. It's not about how fast you can do those reps but whether you are doing them with good technique that will ensure you get the most from each exercise. Plus, by slowing things down, not only do you bring awareness to the movement but those muscles have to work harder. It's not momentum we want with Pilates, it's muscular control! It takes more stamina to do 10 slow straight leg lowers than 10 quick!
So the next time you are in class and your teacher gives you a set number of reps, remember to think tortoise not hare! You'll get to the same place eventually, but you'll probably have gained more by taking the slower route!