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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pilates ideal for Seniors

Sitting in a chair in front of a computer for eight to ten hours a day does not exactly lead to a model figure. Too many writers complain about extra pounds, bulging belly, and heavy butt. Some energetic authors nudged themselves into exercising, walking, swimming, anything to regain their ideal weight. Others like me make perfect New Year resolutions and valiantly keep them for the month of January.
But my life changed when I discovered the world of Pilates and enthusiastically embraced it.
I started Pilates three years ago: two times a week for half an hour each time. I didn't lose weight but gained so much flexibility. The arthritic pain in my arms and hips disappeared. A year later I upped my excercises to three times a week, still half an hour each time. Our classes include from three to ten students. I managed to drag my husband who needed to stretch his muscles after hours of tennis.
There are several types of Pilates. The gym-like that you perform in the middle of a room on a mat, is for the younger generation. I absolutely refused to continue after one section that killed my muscles and almost broke my back.
Then there is the Pilates for Senior: Lying on the Reformer or standing before the Tower, we listen to the trainer instructing us on how to breathe, inhale and exhale, contract the abs or relax the legs while pulling on strings. The strength of the string is adjusted according to the capability--health and age--of the student.

A quick glimpse at the picture below may give you the wrong impression that it's a torture room. But trust me, once you lie on these beds, called reformers, you'll find it the most comfortable way of doing gym movements. The strings pull your legs up, your arms back, while you concentrate on breathing.
The most widely used piece of apparatus, and probably the most important, is the Reformer, followed by the Tower. All exercises are done with control with the muscles working to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs and thereby control the movement of the body and the apparatus. Pilates quickly became popular with many people, ranging from those who are mostly sedentary to those who excel in athletics.

"The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy. If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” - Joseph H. Pilates
I like this definition of my age and highly encourage every writer to join a Pilates class.
By the way, all my heroines are fit and exercise.

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9 comments:

Maeve said...

This looks very interesting, Mona. I've been searching for a form of exercise that won't cause me unbearable pain. I've got arthritis in both hips, ankles, feet and lower back. I'm pretty much a gimp from the waist down. But this sounds as though I might be able to do it without regretting it for weeks afterward. Thank you for such an informative post!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Maeve, like you I used to have a lot of arthritis in my hips and legs and swallowed Glucosamine-Chondroitin to calm the pain. Pilates was indicated as physical therapy to a friend who had a car accident. She told me about it and I tried it. Since that time I stopped all pills. The first time is free for evaluation. But don't go to a studio that doesn't have reformers.

Mary Ricksen said...

This might be the one I can do. Without the pain like Maeve says. So look for reformers, okay!
I need all the help I can get. Some days I cannot walk at all!

Mary Marvella said...

Interesting. Are you sure those table are for exercising? I can think of some uses.

Lynne Marshall said...

Sign me up, Mona! I love this idea. those beds look like heaven, not tortue.

At our last RWA chapter meeting in July we had a Yoga for Writers speaker, and her exercises were great to help ward off the abundance of chair sitting we, as writers, do.

I'm going to look into this Pilates program too!

Thanks for the heads up.

Lynne

Mona Risk said...

Mary R. Pilates will help. I promise.

Mary M. I wonder if we need to heal your twisted mind first. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Lynne, you'll do great in Pilates. Try it, you'll love it and we'll compare notes. Yoga is too difficult because you have to do so much effort. In Pilates, the strings do the work for you.

Barbara Scott said...

How far off the floor are those beds? I can't get up easiy from low chairs due to knee and back issues.

Mona Risk said...

Barbar, the reformers or beds are at the standard height of a chair or sofa. The towers are matresses that are directly on the floor. I have to kneel before I can get up from the tower but have no problem with the reformer.

If you are interested visit a Pilates studio in your area. They give a free demonstration before you sign up. Some ask that you pay by month ahead of time. I insisted to pay week by week as I was afraid to commit for a month and not be able to do it. But I never had problems in three years, in the contrary Pilates helped me get over arthritis.