Is your exercise self-care or punishment? And where does Pilates fit?

Disclaimer – I kind of hate the term self-care because I feel like it’s another thing to feel guilty that it’s not higher up your “to do” list. But how we exercise, choose to move, and choose to work our bodies can be driven by wanting to take care of our bodies, our mental health or it can be another stick to beat ourselves with. 

So, self-care or punishment?? 

What was going through your head the last time you started your workout and what was going through your head at the end? 

Now we don’t all want the same thing from our workouts. Plus, as an individual, we might not always need the same thing from our workout either. What I mean by that is that some days pushing yourself to run your 5k faster is exactly what your body needs but then on other days you might feel stiff and sore and need something stretchy more relaxing. Do you listen to your body? And more importantly, give it what it needs? 

Pilates asks you to listen to your body. 

Underlying the practice of Pilates are our principles – often quoted as 6 but some training schools have more. The principles include concentration, centering, and flow these principles ask you to go within your body – listen to your body and work to the levels and in a way that is right for you today. The idea of listening to your body really sets Pilates apart from other forms of exercise; so rather than focusing on the number of repetitions you do or how heavy the weights/springs are; we focus on the quality of the movement. Now, this doesn’t mean we get to slack off (yes, I know if you’ve never tried Pilates, it just looks like we just spend class lying around on the floor) good quality movement takes real effort focusing on where you want to the movement to start and finish and controlling every little bit in between. 

Breath and relax – because sometimes that is what you need. 

Breath/breathing is one of the original principles – 

“Before any real benefits can be derived from physical exercise, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it” 

– Joseph Pilates.

Do you ever hit your workout after a stressful day and that day you just feel like you need to lift heavy or run hard? Now on some days this can be the right answer; you have excess cortisol that needs an outlet but if you are constantly feeling stressed that hard run could be the opposite to an antidote. Exercise can be a stressor especially when we are working hard which is why rest days are so important. You can take from your Pilates session what you need on any given day; when you need an outlet to work hard you can and when you need to relax a little more you can breathe through your session. Pilates wants you to take from it what your body needs. 

Final thought…..

Whether you choose Pilates or a different form of exercise your routine should always nurture you – it should look after you, setting you up for the day, or relaxing you after a tough one. But if you’d like to try Pilates why not come and join us at Pilates Avenue. Bookings can be made via our website – or on the Gym Catch app.  

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