Never underestimate the strength of the quiet achiever! Jodie has been a regular practitioner of pilates for approximately 2 years. Jodie manages bouts of back pain and some movement limitations from a postural condition called Kyphosis. For consistency, dedication and the ability to come back from each back pain setback, Jodie we celebrate you!
Jodie, you've been coming to pilates classes for a long time now, what keeps bringing you back to the mat each week?
For the results and it makes you feel good. I can feel how strong and stable it is making my core and my back.
Can you describe how you feel when you are working out and going through each of the exercises?
I feel focused entirely on the activity, making sure I am doing the correct movement and getting the breathing right.
What are some of your favourite exercises and why?
Pelvic curls for the articulation through the spine. Planks, it pushes you and you can set yourself a challenge. I also like the clam series and ab curls.
With your specific postural type (kyphosis), which exercises do you find most challenging?
Swimming preparation and flight. Being rounded through my upper back and shoulders I find it impossible to get my arms off the mat. I also find the exercises with the band that work between my shoulders very challenging.
We offer a lot of stretching in the class too - which stretches are some of your favourites and why? (gluts, hamstring, child's pose, neck, hip flexors etc)
Hamstrings, I know they need stretching and I have no excuse not to do them in the class. Child’s pose is also good especially after a challenging set of exercises, great chance to refocus.
If you could improve one thing in our classes what would it be?
Nothing, the classes are great.
What are some of the changes you have noticed in your body since starting?
Strength and stability of my back and core, also overall strength and tone.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about trying pilates out for the first time?
To just try it out, I put it off for too many years!
Making it to Pilates can be a family affair for Robyn, who sometimes comes solo or with her daughters to work out together. Robyn says, 'It is lovely to do something together with my girls that we all enjoy and it definitely keeps me committed to attending".
Robyn, how did you hear about pilates and how long have you been coming to classes?
I had seen an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette - so I googled it !! and emailed straight away. I have been attending classes for about 18 months.
What motivated you to try Pilates the first time?
I had seen Pilates on the TV and thought it would be great for me and wanted to attend a class somewhere local. I have tried Yoga over the years but always found it too intense and not fun.
You're quite unique in that you work out with one or two of your daughters most weeks. And I think once we even had your 3 daughters along as well! How do you find exercising together helps you?
It is lovely to do something together with my girls that we all enjoy and it definitely keeps me committed to attending. As my girls are all grown up, its hard to make time to catch up so we look forward to the class and of course the coffee and chat afterwards!. They are also my greatest encouragement and keep me motivated.
Can you describe some of your favourite exercises?
I really enjoy the clam, all the arm and back exercises using the band and all of the stretches
And which ones are more challenging?
The plank and the "100s" are the two I find a challenge.
Overall, what do you think the main benefit or physical change you have experienced since starting?I have some arthritis in my neck and pain was one of my main motivators for Pilates as its gentle and muscles are worked deeply and controlled. My posture has improved so much and best of all I haven`t had to have Physio or Chiro in a long time or take strong pain killers.
As a person who experiences knee pain, do you find pilates offers you enough exercises that you 'can do' comfortably without causing any aggravation?
Absolutely , there is always different levels that we are shown in each exercise by our instructors to allow people to work at their own pace and comfort, I love that anybody can do Pilates at any age
What would your advice be to someone who was thinking about trying pilates out for the first time?
Just give it a try!! I was quite stiff and not very flexible when I first started but I have definitely improved and can do so much more now. With Pilates you are never too old to join and you WILL have benefits physically and mentally.
From beginner to advanced Pilates practitioner, Tahlia
has grown into one very elegant lady to watch on the mat.
Tahlia says to start Pilates is 'a gift from you to you'.
Tahlia you've been a regular practitioner of pilates for a long time now. How long have you been practicing and what kind of changes have you noticed in your body over that time?
I'll be coming up to two years in October I think and I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've had an intimate relationship with my body, I'm feeling healthy and strong in side and out and I can't forget to mention I feel happy.
You also are a regular practitioner of yoga. Can you describe the difference? Many people think yoga and pilates are the same thing so it would be interesting to hear your views on any of the similarities and differences.
There are a lot of similarities between the two I think there are more poses in yoga focusing on flexibility.The breathing is different but I think both disciplines work on strength and endurance complementing each other rather well. I consider both my practices to have a spiritual side, it's up to the individual.
As one of our more advanced clients I notice each week you pay particular attention to the set up,form and correct technique as instructed. Do you have an aspiration with how far you would like to take your pilates practice?
I'd definitely like to do a second class in the future, and one day I'd even like to study Pilates, Ellissa and Jo have so inspired me.
What are some of your favourite exercises?
I love star pose it's such a graceful exercise, and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing a plank to. Roll ups to standing such a simple but satisfying move.
All of our bodies are different and each of us has different challenges. What are some of the exercises that you find most challenging?
Hinges with a ball are really hard, and all the arm exercises with a band I find really challenging.
As one of our early clients, you've seen our dedicated community of pilates clients grow each week. How do you feel these classes add value to our mountains community?
The feeling of being connected to something bigger is such a wonderful feeling. I admire every person in the room.
What would be your advice to anyone thinking about trying pilates for the first time?
Just give it a go, you will always leave a class feeling better than when you arrived. It's a gift to you from you.
Transitioning from first-time pilates novice 2 years ago into a well respected and encouraging instructor in our community is Jo Smith. We asked Jo about her pilates journey and what keeps her coming back to the mat multiple times each week.
Jo, can you please describe how you found out about pilates and what inspired you to try it?
A friend of mine saw an advertisement for Mountains Pilates and asked if I was interested in coming along. Very glad that I said YES.
How long have you been practicing pilates?
Thinking that it must be nearly 2 years now - my how time flies!!!
Now, you're pretty special in that you've also trained and become a Mountains Pilates instructor yourself. What motivated you to do that?
Again, it was a friend who commented that “I should give it a go” After procrastinating for too long, I finally plucked up the courage and sent a text to Ellissa expressing my interest and suggested meeting up for a coffee to discuss the ‘ins & outs’. From there everything just fell into place and 4 months later I began instructing pilates classes.
How hard was it to train and learn all of the anatomy, cues and exercises?
Mmmm, well, for someone who treated school all those years ago as a place to socialise and never bothering to enrol in tertiary education, I have to say it was a bit of a shock to the system. Yes, it was very difficult, however once I began my studies I became quite fascinated with the complexity of the human body. It’s ability to just function and repair is quite astounding.
It takes a lot of commitment for most people to come to pilates once or twice a week. How are you finding it instructing 3/4 times a week?
I guess I am pretty lucky as I have always loved exercising. When I first started instructing I would go home after the classes and literally ‘collapse in a heap' as the mind and vocal chords were exhausted. There is so much to take on board with a group class, different levels of fitness, age, ability and injuries. No class is ever the same and with each class you take something away to work on, whether it be a new idea on how to deliver an exercise or helping someone achieve their own personal fitness goal. I am happy to say that I no longer ‘collapse in a heap’ when I come home.
What are some of your favourite exercises to do?
To be honest, all of it, however I have to say the clam series and the nutcracker would be two of my favourites.
Which exercises do you find the most challenging?
Definitely the side plank and roll-ups. I do feel with each passing week that my muscles are becoming stronger and that eventually I will conquer them both. What an awesome day that will be!!!
Why do you believe pilates is beneficial? What kind of physical changes have your experienced since starting?
Pilates is all about breathing, inner core strength and control when performing an exercise. For me, this is a priority when exercising and I think with other forms of exercise it can sometimes be overlooked. Pilates not only exercises the muscles within our body, it exercises our minds. Healthy mind definitely helps us to maintain a healthy body. For me personally, I feel stronger, taller and more in control of my emotions (well, most of the time anyway!!).
If someone was thinking about trying pilates, what would you tell them?
One of my favourite quotes from the infamous comedian/artist/interviewer, Anh Do, "You’ll never know until you give it a crack”. So, be brave, go ahead and take his advice.
This month Rebecca is a LEADER in our community for dedication and commitment in coming to Pilates classes. We took a moment to talk with Rebecca about why she loves Pilates and what motivates her to come to class each week.
What inspired you to start pilates?
A physiotherapist recommended it to me after I suffered a minor but annoying shoulder injury. Also some of my beautiful nieces were ballet dancers and they practised it and loved it, so I was keen to try it. I’d heard that it was about strength, balance and flexibility, and I’ve loved it since my first ever class.
How long have you been practising pilates?
I went regularly to some gym-based classes in Sydney when I lived there about four years ago, and I was so pleased when Ellissa started up Mountains Pilates with classes every week, just over two years ago. I’ve barely missed a class in that time.
What areas were you looking to improve by committing to weekly classes?
Definitely abdominal strength and general flexibility. As I get older I’m very much aware of needing to maintain flexibility and good posture so I can hopefully be a sprightly old lady one day!
What kind of benefits have you experienced?
I feel stronger and more flexible, and firmer! I am also much more aware of my core - my abdominal muscles and pelvic floor - and recognise how important they are in daily movement. I try to think about engaging them and using them whenever I have to physically exert myself at home and at work.
It takes a lot of commitment to come every week at 7.30am! Can you describe why you keep coming?
It’s a really great way to start the morning, and you really feel virtuous for the whole day afterwards. Also it’s a really nice class, there’s a lot of camaraderie and we have a good time together!
Is there anyone that does Pilates that inspires or motivates you to continue?
Yes a few people, in different ways... There’s my buddy who’s been coming with me since the beginning, I hate to let her down by not coming! And of course there’s Ellissa our instructor - I know and can see what Pilates has done for her, and she is so encouraging and supportive.
What is the most challenging area for you? (Concentration, flexibility, endurance, abs, gluteal work etc...)
I’d say it’s a combination of concentration and abs. Over the course of the hour-long lesson it can be tricky to remember to keep that core engaged, luckily Ellissa keeps reminding us periodically!
What are some of your favourite exercises or stretches?
I love the Clam, and Clam extension, and even the Bicycle! These side floor exercises really seem to bring everything together for me, because everything’s working at once - also when your glutes ache you really know you’ve been working hard! The same goes for your arms with planks and the tricep curl. Oh, and everybody loves Rolling Like A Ball!
Do you have anything to say to anyone thinking about joining a pilates class?
I thoroughly recommend it. I’ve been feeling stronger, more balanced and flexible, and even taller* since starting. I can especially recommend Mountains Pilates with Ellissa - this is a relaxed, friendly and welcoming class for beginners, and a thorough workout no matter what your level!
*Feeling taller is an immediate and transitory after-class euphoric effect, caused by all that lovely stretching!
Australians are now sitting at desks longer each day, travelling long hours and developing 'text neck' from living a social life through mobile phones. While embracing the digital age, we must also recognise the negative affect that this can have on our bodies.