An alternative to mat-based pilates is using a Pilates Reformer as advocated by Milena Byrne of Platinum Pilates
What I have found, through years of teaching pilates to pre- and post-natal women as well as having gone through two labours where I delivered 10lb babies each time, is that using Pilates on the Reformer during pregnancy can really benefit the body during and after labour.
The Pilates Reformer is where pilates started almost a century ago. Joseph Pilates was a corrective exercise specialist. Years ahead of his time, he realised there was a major connection between the mind and the body and he had an extremely high regard for the Greeks and the physical prowess demonstrated in their ‘Gymnasium’. So much so that he developed his own exercise programme that mirrored many of the exercises carried out by gymnasts. He invented a machine called the Pilates Reformer and from that followed pilates mat work.
The Pilates Reformer is the most renowned of all the Pilates equipment. With its system of springs, straps and pulleys, more than 100 exercises can be performed on this versatile apparatus. In a Reformer class each person has their own Reformer and they can work at their own pace by adjusting the springs and the resistance for each exercise. The reformer helps one establish torso stability and postural alignment while working peripheral limbs in a range of motion. adjustable springs allow for progressive resistance, which helps to lengthen and strengthen the muscles rather than building bulk. It makes for an effective, no-impact stretching and toning workout that is friendly to the joints.
Whilst the Reformer does admittedly look like something that belongs in a torture chamber, never fear you will be surprised how simple some beginner Reformer exercises seem – a relaxing, almost effortless glide back and forth on the carriage with none of that over¬exertion sensation you get from pumping iron. The effects go deep, and you’ll engage muscles you never knew you had. As you progress, the fitness challenge becomes significantly greater.
And the beauty of the Reformer is it’s suitable for everyone. Because the resistance and springs can be altered, the same exer¬cise can be made easier or harder by simply adjusting the settings on the machine. I find people get results from Refomer Pilates much faster than from traditional mat work because the body is a lot more supported to allow it to move into more challenging positions. As Joseph Pilates once said: “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, In 20 sessions you will see the difference and in 30 sessions you will have a whole new body.”
he good news is that pilates on the Reformer can prevent a lot of the damage that can occur during pregnancy and labour and can also help post-pregnancy.
Because pilates on the Reformer supports the body and is low impact – new mums can work their abdominals, pelvic floor, arms, legs and shoulders without stress, tension or impact.
Milena Byrne of Platinum Pilates in Stillorgan. See www.platinumpilates.com.