Three easy ways to make the most out of your class.
When it comes to following a workout (a Pilates one, as well as any other, really) both in real life and specially on video, there are a few tips that can help you not just keep it safe, but also get the most out of your effort. Every body is different and has different needs and you might struggle with an exercise or the other, or with elements of it. It’s important to acknowledge that and adapt our workout accordingly. Yes, but how?
You might feel like if the class has been designed and structured in a certain way, you are not “entitled” to change it. You trust (thank you!) that it’s built in the best possible way for the audience. And that is true! But you know what is also true? That even though I know pretty much all of my participants and the way their bodies move, classes are planned in a way that is good for the majority /average clients. But no client really is average! Everyone has their own history, issues, pains, background and lifestyle.
It might not cover all your needs, but what a good class should provide is room for adaptations, especially when you watch a recorded video and I am not there to screen you on the day and advise on modifications and alternatives.
Before starting your workout, run an honest assessment of your level of fitness for that day. This means taking into account factors like how tired you are/ did you have a good night sleep?/ is there any “live” pain or stiffness/what is your level of energy on the day?
And here are my three tips on how to adapt the class for your own body and goals:
1) Adjust the volume. You can do more or less reps of an exercise, or increase/decrease the load if the workout uses weights. You can even not use any props at all, if the class includes them to increase the intensity. This is the easiest way to adapt a workout. And remember, Pilates favours quality over quantity, so it’s much better to do less with a good form.
2) Adapt the exercises. Let me tell you a secret: you don’t necessarily have to do an exercise as it’s shown by the teacher! This might sound odd, but it is very true and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t normally demonstrate all the exercises in a class (I am talking in pre-Covid times). The teacher’s demo is more like a guide, but you are encouraged to experience the movement in your own body and according to it – forcing a movement you are not ready for only makes it easier to get injuries, aches and feel not particularly good. Pilates offers a number of levels for each exercise and if you have been practicing for a while, you probably know them as you learned the exercise in “layers” and those layers are your options. If you are new, reach out for your teacher if you feel that you need some support.
Let me give you the example of The Hundreds. Your levels are:
– lying semi supine, chest down and do the arms pumping only
– Lying semi supine, arms pumping and chest curled up
– Lying semi supine, arms pumping, chest curled up, one leg in table top
– Lying semi supine, arms pumping, chest curled up, both legs in table top
– Lying semi supine, arms pumping, chest curled up, legs straight to ceiling
– Lying semi supine, arms pumping, chest curled up, legs straight to 45 degrees.
3) Change the structure. One day you might be tight with time or you don’t feel super energised and want to take it easy, another day your neck needs a little more attention…Feel free to adjust the structure of the workout to your needs. I suggest, though, to always incorporate some mobilisation/warm up – or just focus on that and cut what would be considered the “actual” workout. Gentle movements can take you a long way!
Be flexible, keep your workouts enjoyable and feel free to make the adjustments you need!