Why the recent frenzy over Pilates? Former athlete shares why you should hop on this exercise regimen

Published Sep 22, 2022


One of the most appealing aspects of Pilates is that no expensive equipment is required.

And if you’re a homebody, that's also ideal; not everyone enjoys going to the gym. Aside from the use of the reformer machine, all that is needed for an effective workout is a mat and possibly a resistance band.

As a result, Pilates is accessible to everyone, and there is something for everyone, whether you lead a sedentary lifestyle, are pregnant, are going through rehabilitation, suffer from anxiety, or are a professional athlete.

Former athlete-turned-businesswoman Colleen Tomlinson, founder of The Pilates Difference Studio in Plettenberg Bay, says Pilates isn’t something that she just happened to stumble on.

“I’ve been active my entire life and have participated in a variety of sports, including swimming, touch rugby, volleyball for South Africa, running competitions, you name it.

“I hold a degree in human movement. In the course of my recovery from two serious ankle injuries, I learnt the advantages of Pilates and never looked back."

“It’s such a life-changing modality of exercise, and the one thing that you have to understand about Pilates is that it’s not something you do for a season and then move on to something else. It’s very much a life choice, it’s a lifestyle, an investment in your body, your future and your health. It has incredible benefits to strengthen the body,” she told IOL Lifestyle.

It’s about correcting the daily activities we engage in, like sitting at a desk in front of a computer or people who drive, by strengthening the muscles and balancing out overuse or degenerative positions. Picture supplied

Tomlinson believes Pilates is a comprehensive approach to exercise because of the approach it takes. Aside from having a full body focus, this exercise really focuses on building strength in the body from the inside out so that your body is essentially always in a state to prevent degeneration and injury.

Simply put, it’s a fantastic investment in your general health. It’s not just about getting fit and working out; posture is also very important. It’s about correcting the daily activities we engage in, like sitting at a desk in front of a computer or people who drive, by strengthening the muscles and balancing out overuse or degenerative positions.

She goes on to say that it’s really an important thing to do whether you’re new to exercise or someone who is rehabilitating in injury or potentially could have these issues in your body. Pilates works on strengthening your body so that you slow down that progression.

So you see, prevention really is better than cure!

“We really look at the individual and create a fitness and exercise approach that correctly changes the person to undo everything we do in our daily lives or in places where we may have an injury. It’s all about understanding your body,” Tomlinson says.

“Having said that, it’s really great for everyone from young to old. We have 80-year-olds who have been doing Pilates all their lives and are strong and healthy.

“Pilates is especially beneficial for women because it maintains bone strength and promotes healthy posture, spinal health and osteoporosis prevention, among other things,” says Tomlinson.

Model Lori Harvey is also a fan of the workout routine. Picture: Instagram

“Yoga and Pilates are interlinked and complement each other really well. They each have their place in the fitness regime.

“While there are some strength-related aspects to some of the poses in yoga, it primarily focuses on flexibility, breath, mindfulness, being present in your body at the moment, introspection, and learning to be comfortable in your body. Yoga is also a slower, quieter form of exercise that emphasises flexibility and mobility.

“While there are risks of injury in any fitness regime, Pilates is a very low-impact form of exercise and cautious form of exercise in that it encompasses body and mind,” shares the former athlete.

“Generally speaking, Pilates is a much slower and more concentrated form of exercise that is done lying down or on your knees on a mat. Pilates can reduce stress levels, anxiety and depression.

“Every single movement in this form of exercise is carefully controlled, and the core is constantly engaged. The misconception about the core is that it is solely composed of your abdominal muscles, although they do make up a significant portion of it.

“Like the proverb goes, ‘you don’t stop moving from growing old, you grow old from stopping moving’. Your ability to perform other physical activities will increase as a result of increased muscle strength from exercise.”

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