Last summer, everybody was going gaga about Pippa’s pert posterior at The Royal Wedding. Even my Pilates teacher had a newspaper cutting of Pippa’s butt (in clothes, obviously) on the wall of her studio. I think she was trying to motivate us, but looking at Pip’s buns of steel compared to my flabby muffins of misery, I gathered it would take a lot more than Pilates to lift my derriere. In fact a fork lift would have more of a chance.
However one year on…and no, I’m not going to tell you that after persevering with two Pilates classes a week for a year, I can now confidently walk – wobble free – down the beach in a thong. Couldn’t and wouldn’t (take note Peter Stringfellow!) but (and it’s – still – a rather big BUTT :-)) Pilates has definitely made a difference to my muscle tone all over – even if just a bit. I can notice that my tummy is tauter, the muscles in my legs look longer (if encased by a layer of cellulite that refuses to shift) and my bum is an eensy weensy bit peachier.
I used to think Pilates was a ‘soft option’ type of exercise, a bit airy fairy with lots of easy stretching, so a good option for the less fit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Anny, our elfin, 40 something (with a 20 something body) Pilates teacher has taught Pilates to many big, burly athletes as well as professional dancers and in fact, the founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates was a German boxer and gymnast who developed the exercise technique from that background. Concentrating on strengthening ‘the core’ muscles, it improves posture by mobilising the spine, teaches proper breath control and builds flexibility.You also become more aware of your body in everyday life; how you sit, stand and walk. And after a few months of classes, you suddenly realise why you might be getting those back pains and stiff hips and Pilates can help you improve those niggly areas.
So, all in all Pilates is a great body firming exercise with the added benefit of improving your posture (and just standing up straight can make you look half a stone lighter.) For us ladies post baby, it’s also important to mention how good Pilates is for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles – you might not be able to get a job popping out ping pong balls in Thailand, but you’ll be able to have a bounce on your child’s trampoline after a few glasses of wine without pretending that puddle is from your spilt wine!
NB: If you’re thinking of giving Pilates a chance, enrol in a local class or take a look at Pilates on the Go the new book by Pippa’s Pilates teacher, Margot Campbell. Go on, your bum will thank you for it!