Three science-backed ways to enjoy fitness and see results

The home workout trend is growing hugely for many reasons, ‘I’m too busy to hit the gym’ is an obvious one but I was interested to read this article about how it can also help ‘Beat comparison anxiety’. It reminded me how vulnerable we can feel when trying out a new class – moving in front of others and even in what we’re wearing.

I never take for granted how brave my students are to walk through the door for the first time into a new class. I pride myself on making those first few minutes welcoming and non-intimidating. Before they even arrive I make sure they know how to get to the hall, where to park and reassure them it doesn’t matter what they wear as long as they feel comfortable and can move easily. Then, on arrival, I’ll have a chat, introduce them to their mat buddy and explain that Pilates is not competitive and to pick a level that suits them best without worrying about what every one else is doing.

I use balance challenges at the beginning of class as it’s a real leveller and a great icebreaker. We all wobble and stumble with some of them – I explain that’s good as it makes your muscles work harder. Plus, it’s difficult not to laugh when you’re using cartoon style windmill arms to try and stay upright on one leg.

It’s easier said than done to not compare yourself to others but remember even teachers have moves they feel more comfortable in and I’m always really open about that. For example ‘Pigeon Pose’ or the glute stretch with a leg stretched out behind and the other leg bent in front of you is my nemesis. It feels awkward and uncomfortable so I rarely do it but I’m open with my students that it doesn’t suit my physiology but I can help them if they’d like to try it.

The article goes on to talk about taking a mindful approach – really paying attention to how your body feels and that research shows this helps you get more from the workout. That breathing, relaxing and moving smoothly rather than trying to be perfect and only moving with hesitation and fear is important. I use breathing techniques at the start of each class, some overt and some hidden with the stretches to calm my students’ nerves and help them shake off their day. I know my students will get more out of the exercises if they are relaxed and therefore their muscles are too.

Then finally, they recommend to not skip the cool-down. Stretches help you to improve flexibility and range of mobility. In Pilates stretches are an intrinsic part of the workout, I pepper them between the more dynamic moves to rest, reset the muscles and re-focus the mind before the next set of positions. That way it doesn’t feel like the ‘mandatory boring bit’ at the end. You’re actually really grateful for it during the session!

I’m all for home workouts if it suits you best or even between classes, but if what’s holding you back is feeling intimated or self-conscious in a class then find the right teacher and they’ll make you feel relaxed, confident and inevitably an expert in the room will fast-track results which will keep you motivated for the long-term.

Full article here:

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-to-exercise-at-home-fitness-stress-healthy-habit/?utm_source=Newsletter_General&utm_medium=Thrive

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