Four and a half weeks ago I started a Ten Week Pilates Challenge for Moms at Reform Pilates, and each week I've been taking three 60 minutes private sessions with different instructors. After having Jack a little over a year ago, my exercise regime was pretty non-existent. I teach my yoga class for kids once a week, but that can't really be considered "exercise" so much, and when I have free time (rare) I try to get into the yoga studio for a class, but that's it. Luckily, through a combination of nursing Jack and being extremely busy I lost the baby weight (I gained 50 pounds with Jack, that's right, FIFTY) but never gained back any strength and had about zero muscle tone. My back was killing me and my energy level was really low. When Meghan from Reform asked me if I wanted to take part in the Pilates for Mom Challenge I jumped at the chance.
My knowledge of Pilates was pretty limited to say the least. I knew it was stretching and involved some kinds of crazy machines, but how it actually worked was a mystery to me. Through the wonders of the internet, I learned that the Pilates Method of exercise was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s (my favorite era, coincidence? I think not). It was originally used as a rehabilitation program for prisoners of war and was later found to be of great benefit to anyone seeking a higher level of fitness. Pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abs, arms, hips, and back. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced so you can start at any level, and the intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.
At Reform Pilates, they use the Romana’s Pilates Approach. Joseph Pilates asked his longtime student, Romana Kryzanowska, to continue teaching his method of body conditioning after he was gone, and dictated every exercise exactly as he meant it to be. When Joe died in 1967 Romana helped his wife, Clara, run the studio and has been teaching ever since, maintaining the integrity of the work in its original form. Today Romana and her daughter Sari continue to travel around the world teaching the Pilates method just as it was taught to them by Joseph Pilates.
In Reform's studio (which is gorgeous by the way, with big windows that let the sunlight pour in) they use the traditional apparatus, the "crazy machines" I talked about earlier. Each piece of apparatus has its own repertoire of exercises and most of the exercises done on the various pieces of Pilates apparatus are resistance training since they make use of springs to provide additional resistance. The most widely used piece of apparatus, and probably the most important, is the Reformer, but other apparatus used in a traditional Pilates studio include the Cadillac (also called the Trapeze Table), the high (or electric) chair, the Wunda Chair, the baby Chair, and the Ladder Barrel, the Spine Corrector (Step Barrel) and small barrel. Part of what has made Pilates so much fun to do is getting to learn how to use all of these different pieces of apparatus and equipment because they are totally new and different from anything I've ever done before.
On the Reformer you can really feel the muscles in your legs working, and the Cadillac is just plain fun. You get to use the trapeze bar, you lay down, stand up, stand on your shoulders, pull down on springs with your legs, your arms, it's crazy. It's all fun, but takes a lot of focus too, which I like. You really have to concentrate to make sure you're doing the movements correctly, and I've found that not only does that make the workout really count for me physically, but it also sometimes makes the hour fly by.
I'm about halfway through my ten week challenge right now, and I have seen some major changes. First, I'm definitely more toned than when I started, and even though I wasn't intending to lose weight, I've lost about five pounds. Everything fits better, and I feel like for the first time since having the kids I have some real core strength back. Week four was when I really started seeing the results, but I felt results after just a few sessions, and I'm pretty addicted at this point. Even though I'm going three times a week for an hour each time, each session is a little different since there are so many variations to try, and there is an opportunity to improve each time. I feel like I'm standing up straighter and seriously do feel a little taller, and I love having better posture since I was a chronic huncher.
I would recommend Reform to anyone, at any level. It's perfect for moms because it gives you strength right there in that core area, the stomach and back, where it feels like carrying babies makes you lose it the most. My back was SO screwed up before I started and I was in near constant discomfort from it, and now I have zero back pain. I think that three pregnancies threw my posture and my back out of whack, and Pilates has helped me not only re-learn how to stand up straight and stack my spine, but has helped me re-build the muscles to help support that weakened area. Each instructor that I have used so far offers something different, and I have enjoyed working with everyone so far, Cindy, Arielle, Amy and Kyle, they are all great, and I hope to have sessions with everyone by the time I'm done with the ten weeks. Will I keep it up after I'm done? Definitely. Not only do I love how I feel, I also love how it has transformed my body, and that is for sure something I want to maintain.
To learn more about Reform Pilates head to their website right here or give them a call at 518-871-1315. xoxo