It is no secret that everyone is stressed (and that means, extremely stressed) at the moment. We are in, yet another, national lockdown. Oh, the joys. Gyms are now shut, much to our dismay over here at Bloomsbury. As most people will know, exercise isn’t just about keeping fit, a lot of people use exercise as a means to keep on top of their mental health. During these difficult times, helping each other keep on top of their mental health is imperative. To this end, we thought we would interview trained Pilates instructor Michelle Potts about she is continuing to run her at home Pilates business during the lockdown.
Can you explain to us what it is you do?
I am a qualified Pilates Instructor and teach Pilates exercises to private clients, small groups and also via Zoom to larger groups. At the moment, all classes are via Zoom.
What are the short- and long-term benefits of Pilates?
Pilates is known as functional fitness – that means it is an exercise programme that supports movements in your everyday life. Pilates promotes: correct alignment, to enable your body to work at its best improves flexibility, mobility, strengthens the body, improves co-ordination and is a brilliant de-stressor. Within 10 sessions (short term) of Pilates, you will feel the benefits as above. (Session one, will definitely start to destress you). You will move more easily, in some cases you can be pain-free if you have an injury. Long term, it will give you the best of your body and help you live your life how you want to live it (with the advantage of being able to put your socks on yourself in old age!).
How has Pilates changed your life?
After many years of gymnastics, I suffered from severe back issues. Major spinal surgery followed and during recovery, the only exercise which improved my wellbeing was Pilates. This led me to train as an instructor, so I could share the benefits with others. From not being able to walk very far, I now teach a minimum of 8 classes per week (with many of my clients being in their 20s – so I have to keep ahead of them!).
Are there mental health benefits?
Only positive ones – you never regret a Pilates class! For 45-60 minutes, you are concentrating on yourself – your body and how it is reacting to the various exercises. It is a total de-stressor! You feel more confident, stand taller and move with so much more fluidity – all adding to positive mental health.
What are the physical health benefits?
If your body is in its correct alignment, the muscles work how they should – this avoids injury or if you are injured, will aid recovery.
Is there more than one type of Pilates?
Joseph Pilates created the original set of exercises; his aim was to rehabilitate injured dancers and athletes. Some of his original exercises are quite difficult for the general population to replicate. However, the fundamentals around his exercises remain and form the basis for all forms of Pilates – Concentration, Centring, Control, Precision, Breathe and Flow.
What muscles does Pilates work?
All muscles are used but predominately we are focusing on the core muscles (those deep within the body). The more global muscles (such as abs) are worked as a consequence. The core muscles often get neglected, whilst people focus on getting say, a six-pack but the core muscles are so important to our stability/balance – Pilates engages you with your core muscles and strengthens them.
Being unable to attend gym classes at the moment, what are your top tips for setting up a space for Pilates in your home?
You really don’t need much space at all. I have a client who is living in her towing caravan at the moment and she manages two classes a week. You need enough space for a mat, and a mat to put in that space! We also like to use a small Pilates ball to challenge our balance and sometimes small hand weights (or cans of beans!). So, very little space at all.
Take a look at Michelle’s Facebook page to get all the relevant information: