If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about Pilates, what class would suit you and if it will work for you – CSSM Pilates instructor Kim Van Hoorn has you covered.

Regular Pilates practice aims to improve overall body awareness, posture, flexibility, strength, balance and muscle control. Pilates can also help you recover from injury, improve balance and coordination, and decrease the likelihood of re-injury.

At CSSM, we have clients who are office workers who want to address their niggly back pain through to elite runners who use pilates to improve their running technique and prevent complaints such as hip pain due to muscle fatigue.

How is Pilates different?

Pilates is a series of controlled, isolated movements that looks to lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the body. Pilates typically focuses on your ‘core’ abdominals. Your core is not just your ‘6 pack,’ it’s the muscles that attach to the trunk of the body (your spine and pelvis) and includes abdominals, glutes and erector spinae (back) muscles.

The idea is to strengthen these trunk muscles to improve your posture and mobility so that your limbs move more effectively.

In a gym setting, you would typically work your global muscles (like quadriceps in your legs) or deltoids (in your shoulders). While this is great strength training, in terms of improving posture and spinal mobility, we need to focus on the intrinsic muscles- which is where Pilates is better.

Pilates is also one of the only forms of exercise that compliments other training. For example, if you are a runner, you could combine Pilates training to assist with recovery and to strengthen your gluteal (bum) muscles, which will improve your running. This principle can then also be applied to a variety of other sports or activities.

In fact, in a study of 32 experienced male runners aged 18–28, those who did mat Pilates for an hour twice-weekly for 12 weeks had a significantly faster 5K running time and, according to electromyography activity, had less muscle activation, suggesting better “neuromuscular economy.” Study authors believe this was due to control and stabilisation of the lumbopelvic region (Finatto et al. 2018).

Pilates exercises are also easily adapted to a variety of levels and capabilities. Pilates can be safely performed pre and post pregnancy and post surgery (PIER). As well as this, Pilates is supervised by a trained practitioner, meaning you know you are performing each exercise safely – something that lacks in a typical gym setting.

A concern from many clients is that they believe they aren’t flexible and can’t do Pilates. But that is exactly why we come to Pilates, to increase our flexibility and to improve our posture. You don’t need to be flexible or strong to start, you just need to have the desire to improve.

If you have a pre-existing injury, we recommend you chat to your practitioner before commencing a Pilates program, because in that instance PIER Pilates – Practitioner Instructed Exercise Rehabilitation – may be more beneficial to you. This is studio-based exercise with a rehabilitation focus.

At CSSM, we have a variety of options: from studio Pilates to PIER to PilatesFIT – we call this Pilates with an extra kick!

CSSM’s Pilates studio is equipped with state-of-the-art Pilates apparatus including refomers, wunda chair and trapeze table. Our Balanced Body Allegro 2 reformers are innovative, sleek and modern. Find out more here.