Getting to the core of it

There was a time when I viewed exercise as a pure means of burning those dreaded calories. I would jump on the treadmill and keep my beady eye on the monitor that told me how many calories I was burning (annoyingly extremely slowly!). I wouldn’t have dreamed of going to a yoga or a pilates class as I felt I would be short changed and burn fewer calories than I would have spending an hour doing a cardio class. But somewhere along the line – about 18 months ago actually – I decided to look into pilates. I mean all these people were turning up to do pilates week in week out were surely not mad. They were clearly onto something and most of them had these strong, long. lean bodies. I wanted what they had and so my affair with pilates began. And as I like doing more “masculine” type sports like kick boxing, martial arts and boxing, pilates ranks at the top with athletes and sportsmen alike because of its huge benefits. But I don’t want you to take my word for it. As I’ve said I’m not an expert in exercise and nutrition but I always want to educate you my readers on the variety of ways you can be fit and healthy. So for this post I interviewed my pilates teacher Julie Huggard who has over 24 years experience of pilates to give you an expert insight into this form of exercise.

Fitlass : Hey Julie, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. So tell us what exactly is pilates?

Julie : Pilates is a series of exercises devised by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s. He wanted to work on strengthening the core muscles to support the back and to lengthen and strengthen all muscle groups. It also helps to correct posture and improve flexibility.

Fitlass: What are the main benefits of pilates?

Julie : The top benefits of doing pilates exercises is that people report that become stronger, leaner, longer and are able to do anything with grace and ease. This is because in many moves, you hold your torso in place while moving your limbs in different directions which challenges your balance, core strength and flexibility.

Fitlass: Some people are not sure of the difference between yoga and pilates. Is there one?

Julie: Yoga is a lifestyle rather than exercise and focuses on meditation, diet, relaxation and breathing skills offering a path to physical and mental well-being. Pilates on the other hand focuses on strengthening the core and elongating the spine. As well as this, pilates also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

Fitlass:  Pilates isn’t much of a cardio or strength training workout, so it should be an add-on to a regular routine, right?

Julie: Yes it should be an add on and it’s preferable to do a cardio workout before a Pilates class as your elevated heart rate continues throughout the Pilates exercises . It will also assist in technique in certain forms of cardio workouts such as the ergo and cross trainer as correct posture is vital to optimum results.

Fitlass: Now I’m going to be doing a blog post on pregnancy and getting back into shape later this week, but I hear Pilates is very good for post natal women?

Julie: Too often we read about celebs squeezing into their size zero jeans by doing lots of cardio workouts but this is not good for you. The body takes nine months to adjust to the pregnancy and delivery and it takes as long as that to return to normal in terms of muscle and ligaments. These soften to allow the pregnancy to proceed to term and doing a CV workout too soon after delivery can result in injuries to the joints (especially knees and hips)and can cause back problems too.

Fitlass: What advice would you give to readers wanting to get into pilates?

Julie: Go along to a local gym or class and make sure the classes are small if you a complete beginner. Alternatively you can either invest in a ‘one to one class’ to get to grips with the basics or a beginners course. It is better to build on a good set of foundations of the basics than buying a DVD and trying to teach yourself as you cannot be sure you are doing it correctly. There is a correct technique in the breathing and execution of the exercises.

Fitlass: It’s not just for women right? I hear it’s choice of exercise for many sportsmen.

Julie: Yes a lot of sportsmen (and women) do pilates to improve their form and posture. Whether you are a sportsman or woman or not, good posture and strong core muscles are important to avoid injury and joint problems. Golfers use it to help their swing, motor racing drivers use it strengthen their spines, tennis/squash players use it to improve on their stroke, horsemen and women to improve their posture ………the list goes on and on.

Fitlass:  If readers more info how can they contact you?

Julie: Sure they can email me on I do various classes all over Reading so anyone living in  the area wanting to do a class can get in touch with me.

Fitlass: Well thanks so much for the insight Julie and I’ll see you in class!


About Fitlass

I'm a young, independent, career driven girl with a hectic lifestyle. Once upon a time I used to be fat but now I've changed my ways and lead a healthy lifestyle. I want to show you how YOU too can be fit and healthy and yet STILL have a lifestyle!
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One Response to Getting to the core of it

  1. Pingback: Battle of the (baby) bulge | Fitlass

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