Sunday mornings I like to go to the Pilates class at my gym. The class is usually a smaller group of mostly women looking to start their day with the energizing lift of a well-rounded Pilates class. The instructor is a happy and encouraging person who pushes us to do our best on the movements while also leading us through proper breathing as well as the variations of the movements so we can choose the level that suits us.
While training for the marathon I did most of my long runs on Sundays so missed the class for many weeks. At one point I wondered why instructors tend to do the same routines from week to week, but jumping back into the class after my hiatus, I was grateful for the consistency of the routine that allowed me to fit right back in.
We always start in the cross-legged seated position and stretch the core from side to side, then the head, and legs. Once the warm-up routine is finished we move on to The Hundred and continue through the standard Pilates movements. The consistency of the routine from week to week also allows us to improve from week to week. I also find it easier to focus on one thing at a time which I use each new class to do. One week I might focus more on breathing, the next the position of my legs, and the next I will really concentrate on the use of my powerhouse through every single move.
One of the things I like most about Pilates is how challenging it really is. From an observer’s standpoint, the moves might not seem that difficult, but once you realize how many factors are involved in doing the moves correctly, it suddenly requires much more effort and concentration. From The Hundred to the leg exercises to the Pilates push-ups, plank, side-lying stretches, and back work, every move depends on the use of the core or the powerhouse. It is encouraging to feel how the powerhouse can be engaged and contribute to better performance through the moves if you take the time to concentrate on those muscles and how interconnected they are to the rest of the body.
There is no doubt in my mind that by really strengthening my core, my runs will improve but like everything else, it will take consistency and practice to build up my powerhouse and I thank Pilates for helping to make that happen.