I’ve lived with lower back pain since my university days, when I had two bad falls – one on a mountain bike, and another while skiing. For almost two decades, the pain would come and go, and at its most intense, I could be bedridden for a few hours as numbness sets in. I tried all sorts of treatment: physiotherapy, painkillers, muscle relaxants, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and chiropractors. However, years later, the occasional back pain would still be triggered by activities such as: Lugging my work laptop around client sites in Australia and Indonesia, vacationing in Southern Italy and South Africa where we constantly walked, trekked and biked around, and of course, during my third trimester and the newborn months.
I started attending PowerMoves Pilates In The Park four years ago because of their convenient location (Dempsey was near home), timing (beginners class right after work, before dinner) and ambience (beautiful, peaceful, natural surroundings). I moved to the pre-natal class from 17 to 37 weeks pregnant, and then rejoined regular classes about a month after delivering. I’m currently going for a blend of mat and reformer classes. Pilates has proven to be an effective, enjoyable and sustainable lifestyle solution for me. Over time, I find that I’ve developed (or post-pregnancy, regained) a smaller waistline, flatter abs and a stronger core which has helped protect my back and spine. I can honestly say, it’s been a “me” activity I look forward to every week!
Pilates exercises emphasise control and resistance training – with moves that focus on core muscles in the “powerhouse” (abs, pelvic floor, lower back), proper alignment of the spine, and awareness of breath. Working with mat comprises a series of floor exercises, complemented with equipment like the magic circle, fit ball and free weights. Reformer involves the use of a resistance-based machine with springs and ropes for assistance. Exercises can be performed lying down on your back, side or front, sitting, kneeling or standing. On the surface, it might seem that not much is going on, but when you truly activate the powerhouse muscles, you will definitely break out in sweat as you feel your body lengthening and vibrating!
It’s also good to understand what PILATES IS NOT:
1) Pilates isn’t cardio. Over time, pilates exercises will increase your lean muscle mass which helps your body burn more calories, even while you are at rest. In fact, “Cardio is great; but the second you hop off the bike or the treadmill, you stop burning calories. With Pilates, the second you’re done, you start burning calories.” However, if your primary goal is weight loss, then you still need to continue activities like brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming or dance, as well as any necessary diet adjustments.
2) Pilates isn’t yoga. Although both connect mind and body exercises, pilates is non-spiritual and takes a scientific approach. “The breathing is different – in Pilates, you pull your stomach in to build abdominal strength, while in Yoga you allow it to expand as you breathe. Pilates is about the body in motion, while Yoga entails holding the body in a variety of poses.”
PowerMoves Pilates today has 3 lovely garden studios – Dempsey Hill, Rochester Park and Bishan Park, and has won accolades such as the 2014 SHAPE awards for Most Challenging Pilates Class & Most Mummy Friendly Pre-Natal Class, as well as Singapore Tatler’s 2014 Best of Singapore’s Pilates Studios, and Expat Living’s Most Beautiful and Beginner Friendly Pilates Studio. They like to say: “In 10 sessions, you’ll feel the difference; in 20, you’ll see the difference; in 30, you’ll have a whole new body.“ Want a leaner, firmer, fitter you? Take time out from the daily grind to take care of yourself!
For all of July, blog readers get a special complimentary trial mat class (worth S$55). Just contact them via phone or the online form HERE. State your preferred studio, day and time, and give them the code FINALLYMAMA to redeem.