Most of us have a rough idea about what Pilates involves but if you don’t, here’s an insight; it’s a method of exercise which provides a safe environment to improve posture, alignment and core strength with a focus on mind/body connection and awareness. It has a strong focus on activating deep stabilising muscles that promote efficiency and balance within the body and improves posture, which as we know is very important to the overall wellbeing of a person.
I started Pilates when I was about 15 as a ballet student and over the years I’ve continued to make it part of my lifestyle. In recent years, it has helped me to rehabilitate from a back injury and has also been incredibly beneficial to me pre and postnatal after having two children.
I currently instruct at an inner city studio and recently opened my studio, The Pilates Space, in Langwarrin South offering small group mat classes at the Langwarrin Community Centre. As a Pilates instructor, it is my belief that every single client is entitled to a personalised program that is designed to benefit and challenge alike. At the Pilates Space I offer a fully equipped studio offering classes of no more than three people. The programs are designed to help people improve their functional movement, with a focus on control, stability, and flexibility – with me right there by their side teaching them everything they need to know.
I truly believe the greatest reward from Pilates is achieved in a small group or even private classes with a highly qualified Pilates instructor. Each individual is different and the greatest benefit of a small group class is that programs are individualised and allow everyone to progress at their own pace.
Pilates is often underestimated as an exercise option and I think there are many reasons why. I often hear people say; Pilates looks like you’re not really doing anything or they think if they have an injury it limits their ability to do Pilates. For others, when they think of Pilates, they associate it with professional dancers and athletes so as a result the perception is that Pilates is too difficult or advanced for them which is not true!
The reality is that Pilates is beneficial for absolutely everyone. Under the instruction of a qualified Pilates instructor, along with the unique equipment used in the studio, Pilates will challenge and even aid rehabilitation in ways you would never have believed. Including those with injuries, pregnant women or those who have just had a baby!
The benefits of pre-natal Pilates is undeniable. As we know being pregnant can vary considerably from person to person and that no two pregnancies are ever really the same. With this in mind, programs are continually modified and updated to reflect what trimester you are in.
We also know, for most of us, a growing baby puts significant stress on various parts of the body, and these stresses change as you progress through pregnancy. The beauty of Pilates is that it helps focus on strengthening your abdominal muscles, which for example will help reducing back pain (which I know many suffer the bigger bubs gets!!). As well as the abdominals, a Pilates program will assist pregnant mums with the strengthening of the gluteal muscles (butt muscles) to help minimise sacri-iliac joint pain (SIJ).
Some of the many other benefits Pilates offers pregnant mums are; improved balance, controlled breathing, increased body awareness, strengthened leg muscles and relaxation. Ultimately, any movement is better than no movement at all, but if you are looking for an exercise program that will aid in the recovery process as well as during labour, then I highly recommend Pilates.
It is important, however, to make sure you have a highly qualified Pilates instructor who is trained to work with pregnant women.
Once bubs has come into the world and mums have had clearance from their doctor (generally after the 6 week checkup), they are welcome and even encouraged to continue their Pilates classes. As is the case with pre-natal, qualified instructors are trained to reintroduce Pilates with a post-natal approach specific to how their body is recovering from the pregnancy/birth. There are a number of factors to consider when re-introducing Pilates post birth, including diastasis recti (the separation of the abdominals through pregnancy) and pelvic floor. I highly recommend a private session with an instructor for this, it’s so important to make sure you are performing the exercises properly.
For many mums, finding time to exercise when you have kids is tough, and, as a mum to two young children myself, I am no stranger to being time poor. That’s why I offer baby/child friendly classes at The Pilates Space, so mums can continue to experience the benefits of Pilates even when they can’t find a babysitter. If Pilates provides mums with an opportunity to have their “own” me-time too then I work with clients to find a suitable time for them.
I love watching clients progress in ways they never thought imaginable. Whether it be reducing or eliminating pain to make their lives more comfortable and fulfilled, every single Pilates client has started with a goal in mind, and no two goals are the same. For me to be able to achieve these goals and extend them beyond is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. I absolutely love what I do and don’t consider instructing as a “job”, I see it as sharing my passion with others.
Tamara Brown, 34, is a Mornington Peninsula mama of two to Oscar, 4, and Ella, 2. She’s a qualified Pilates instructor and a member of the Australian Pilates Method Association.
Tamara currently teaches at The Pilates Space and the Langwarrin Community Centre.
Visit www.thepilatesspace.com.au for more details or to contact Tamara.