I've been doing some promotion at the Markham Farmers Market over the last 6 weeks and I have started to notice a worrying trend. There are different reasons why people might not want to come out for a free class, but one I have heard a number of times is:
"I can't exercise anymore because I hurt myself at bootcamp."
Now before everyone gets up in arms I want to be clear: I'm sure there are lots of great bootcamps and bootcamp instructors. And bootcamps can be great for lots of relatively healthy and injury-free people. What I want to talk about here is the fact that exercise should not cripple you. Period.
In each instance of hearing this, I was so desperate to say "Pilates can help you recover!" that I was in some cases chasing people around the market like a crazy person. It is so disturbing to me that a poor experience with another VERY different exercise regime has made someone believe that they can no longer exercise. How horrible is that?!?
There is something wrong with the way a lot of people view exercise, and it is made worse by bootcamp-style classes. It's the belief that you should be forcing your body to keep going through horrible pain in order to get results. That is total bullshit. THAT IS HOW YOU END UP CRIPPLED AND UNABLE TO EXERCISE! It is not how you learn to use your body effectively, or how you develop a long-term healthy exercise habit that will be with you for the rest of your life.
Now I also want to be clear about what I mean by pain. In my classes I use a scale of 1-10 to help people assess what they are feeling. If 1 is at rest and 10 is pain, there is a large range of discomfort and borderline pain in there. In order to strengthen and stretch your body progressively you need to feel that it is working- I usually suggest that a 7 or 8 is good- mild discomfort means you are working hard but not injuring yourself. Please think about this when you exercise- it can help you know when it's a good idea to stop. Or simply try a new position. Or adjust your alignment. It's the basis of developing good body awareness which can help you all the time- not just at exercise classes.
Pilates can be adjusted for every injury and every condition out there. If you are recovering from an injury please consider coming along to a class or a 1:1 with me. Pilates can help you get back into exercising safely. It can also protect you from re-injuring yourself in the future.
Have you ever been to a bootcamp? What was your experience there? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This week I attended a Pilates class as a student and I was, once again, the loudest one in the class. Not because I spoke up with questions or comments, but simply because I BREATHE!
I’ve noticed before that breathing is often very quiet in many Pilates classes I have attended. The breath pattern is mentioned but everyone usually seems too scared to make much noise. I’m a firm believer in a loud and strong breath, and have always encouraged my students to breathe loudly together in class (that way no one notices who’s the loudest!) Not only does the breath help connect us to the movement, it also fires the muscles at the right time and makes our movement so much more efficient. You can try it yourself- attempt to pick up a heavy object (with good technique of course!) while holding your breath. Then try again while breathing out. It should be noticeably easier the second time.
I’d love any comments about breathing and Pilates from all of you out there! Do you hide your breath in class? Does it make it easier for you if you breathe loudly when performing exercises?
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.