Balancing Act pg1

Pilates, Callanetics or yoga? Make an informed decision here.

There are many forms of exercise, so how do you know which style is right for you?

Celeste Wylie, a Pilates and Callanetics instructor at HybriDynamX, and Cathy Rogers, owner of Your Yoga Space, review three complementary, but very different, forms of exercise to make your choice a whole lot easier.

The Pilates method of conditioning restores natural balance by focusing on centring both the body and mind to give you the shape you want. Developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates, this method combines the best of Western and Eastern traditions, blending the mind and body and viewing them as a unity working in complete harmony with one another.

The Eastern approach to exercise is one of calmness, with an emphasis on stretching and limberness. The Western approach emphasises motion, muscle tone and strength. Joseph Pilates emphasised both of these approaches in his method. When taught correctly, it will safely lead you to a state of total, balanced fitness through concentric and eccentric movements of your muscles, while maintaining correct and consistent posture.

Classes vary according to the instructor’s individual style and underlying influences. There is a general standard of what Pilates is and what it isn’t, which can be used as a guideline to give an indication of what can be expected during a class. There are no violent, quick or jerky movements, no heavy weights are used and sequences are strategically conducted. Continuously lengthening postures are combined with a breathing technique, while movements are repeated a few times each with counter postures to create a balance. Any straining to the point of exhaustion is considered counterproductive.

Classes can either be conducted in an open studio where students can make quick use of balls, bands and mats, or in a Pilates’ apparatus-equipped gym, where certain equipment unique to Pilates is used. The general flow of each class can consist of a warm-up, either aerobic, or an even, fast-paced series of stretches, followed by a sequence of postures, which are all taught at a consistent pace. The principles of Pilates are applied to each posture to ensure you experience a mind-body connection. Each class finishes off with cool-down stretches.

Your body becomes firmer and sleeker, with longer, leaner muscles. You move easily and quickly. Your physical and mental strength, as well as endurance is increased, making this form of exercise ideal for anyone living a stressful life. The mind becomes the body’s master, increasing confidence. Back pain is relieved and muscle flexibility and joint mobility is improved. The body’s co-ordination, posture, balance and alignment are corrected, helping prevent bone deterioration. Pilates’ exercises facilitate optimal function of the internal organs too, stimulating the circulatory system, oxygenating the blood, aiding in lymphatic drainage and releasing endorphins responsible for the ‘feel good’ factor.

Is It For You?
Anyone can try Pilates, whether they are ‘new’ to exercise or want to increase their daily activity.