Wednesday 10 August 2016

Core Strength - what Rowing has taught me about Pilates.


Recently I was convinced to give rowing a try.  I train some awesome ladies (who are of a certain age), and they are absolutely some of the fittest people I've ever met - they are great examples of 'if you don't stop using it, you'll never lose it!'  Anyway they've been asking me for a while to give rowing a try, and finally last week I got round to it.

I absolutely loved it!  Firstly you are on the river in Durham, which is just beautiful, it's so peaceful and calm (when the wind isn't blowing that is - but that's a whole different story!), and you are concentrating so hard on getting your rowing technique right, that you forget about the stresses and strains of life, and the 'To do' list.

As a Pilates instructor, it's made me realise why all of the top athletes practise Pilates as part of their training plans.  Here are some of the reasons I was thankful that I do Pilates;

1. Getting the instruction to 'engage my lats' - I knew exactly where and how to do this.

2. 'Less is more' - I say this all the time in my classes, as it's not about the big movements, it's about focusing on engaging the smaller muscles, it often doesn't look like we're moving much at all. The same goes for rowing - the harder you try to row the slower the boat goes; relax and stop overthinking then things seem to work - strange that!

Me in action!
3. Core strength, oh my word, was I pleased that I've got this - not only does it massively affect the balance of the boat.  But if the movement comes from the core, then it makes less work for your arms and legs - thereby you have more strength and control in these muscles.

4. Balance - you certainly find out whether you have this.

5. Flow - in our classes we get into the flow when we have the control of the movement combined with the breathe - same in rowing.  This also makes us concentrate more - so great for switching off the mind!

6. Breath - I believe that the most important thing in any exercise program (and life!) is breath.
Joe Pilates said, 'if you learn one thing from Pilates, learn how to breathe' - this is absolutely true.  Every single person that I've ever taught Pilates to, when they first start say 'it's the breathing that's the hardest part' - it's so hard to breathe properly, and when you don't breathe properly you will never be able to engage your core properly and you will always hold onto tension.  As I always say there's a reason they teaching pregnant women how to breathe to give birth - strange that they don't teach anyone else!

Having said all of the above, I'm still aching especially in the glutes!

What I've learned or been reminded of is how beneficial Pilates is, not just for your everyday life, but for any sportspeople out there - YOU SHOULD BE DOING PILATES.  Not only will it help prevent injuries and improve your performance;
but it will help you to gain better control of your core, thereby releasing and allowing the big superficial muscles to do their job.  Your balance will improve as will your posture, and if you can learn correct breathing techniques then you will truly harness your Core Strength.

I'm in a quad for the first time tonight - I'll let you all know how I get on.....

Jill x


If you want to join our Pilates sessions, or if you'd be interested in 1-2-1 or small group sessions for your particular sport, then get in touch via our contact form -

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