Pilates for Busy People (All of Us?)

It’s a given in our world: We are busy people. With 40-hour-a-week jobs, presentations to give, children’s carpool lines and after-school activities, meals to prepare, bills to pay, cars to get fixed, houses to clean, laundry to fold — you get the picture — there’s little time left to think about ourselves, our bodies, the way we move through the world.

What if there were an activity you could fit into your busy schedule that would not only help you to stay in shape, but carry its benefits into your daily life, boosting your energy, confidence, and stamina so that you don’t collapse in a heap on the bed after a full day?

Well, there is! Even one Pilates studio session per week will leave you feeling invigorated, stronger, and more sane so that you can be your best self all week long. Because the Pilates method requires focused attention, deep breathing, and whole-body engagement, busy people (let’s face it, we’re all busy) will reap its benefits.

The mind-body connection

When Joseph Pilates said, “A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living,” he was explaining how the Pilates method affects daily life. With regular Pilates practice, students become more aware of posture, breath, and core strength. Whether you’re writing a memo at a desk or cooking dinner, you will begin to feel the proper way for your body to move throughout the day, a knowledge that retrains the mind to expect alignment and health.

Frequency of workouts

Experts say that no matter what exercise you try, it’s optimal to engage in it two to three times a week. The same is true for Pilates. Joseph Pilates said, “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference and in 30 you will have a whole new body.” Consistency of practice is important: Once a month at the Pilates studio will not only be less beneficial, but you’ll get frustrated that you can’t remember what you learned in your previous sessions.

Workouts are designed as building blocks from beginner to advanced fitness levels. As they engage different levels of concentration — from proper breathing, to specific muscle groups, to the flow from one exercise to another — it’s important to find a regular routine. Once a week will give you a boost. Two or three times a week will garner greater, and faster, change.

What else can I do?

When you can’t get to the studio, what else might you do? Many Pilates instructors actually give their clients homework, often consisting simply of conscious practice in proper posture and breathing. Ask your instructor what you can do throughout the day to maintain your workout’s benefits. You’ll be surprised: You may not even have to leave your desk!

Adding aerobic exercise is also beneficial — even taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood after dinner can get your blood pumping, as will a jog. Adding stretches to your morning or before-bed routine can keep you aware and limber.

Remember, physical exercise isn’t just for people who don’t have kids, careers, or lives outside the gym or studio. It’s important for all of us to stay in physical, mental, and emotional shape so that our busy lives can feel enriching versus constantly exhausting. Pilates is an excellent way to bring your workout home with you, and to train your body to expect its benefits throughout the day.

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