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Not so long ago, more recently than I care to admit, I became a fully-fledged, T-shirt wearing member of the HIIT cult.
In other words, the kind of person I used to make fun of.
Like many unsuspecting victims before me, I promptly fell head over heels for the cut and thrust workouts after my first class. It was love at first sight: music pumping in tandem with my adrenaline, short bursts leaving you drenched in sweat. Soon enough, I was attending classes upwards of four, five, and occasionally seven, days a week. I’m embarrassed to share I even pulled a double-session once or twice (I don’t even know that person anymore).
But, like many all-consuming, passion-fuelled love affairs, it was short-lived. What goes up, must come down, etc. And soon enough, my body and enthusiasm began to weary with every box jump and burpee (of which there were many).
Fast forward six months, and a couple of protein shakes later, and I was well and truly over it. Ready to hang up my sweat-soaked towel. Done. Finito.
This probably wasn’t helped but my short attention span when it comes to exercise, either. To give you a better idea of my workout commitment issues, I once trained for a half marathon, eventually running 17km with ease, before suddenly deciding a few weeks out I was done with the whole long-distance running thing.
One might say I am the Ariana Grande of Exercise: Thank U, Next. (If HIIT had taught me love, running had definitely taught me pain).
So it was then, in pursuit of my next flame, I stumbled across a new, shiny suitor: Reformer Pilates. The supposed workout behind some of the best celeb bods in the biz, from Meghan Markle to Ashley Olsen, I was certainly willing to give it a chance to woo me.
So I signed up for three weeks of classes at One Hot Yoga in Sydney’s Potts Point. Perhaps a little smug, I expected to find it somewhat breezy compared to my usual grind. Alas, my aching abs the morning after my class would beg to differ.
If you haven’t already tried Pilates, let me tell you, it is no walk in the park. Sure enough, in just a few short few weeks, I felt stronger, longer and leaner. I also surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the change of pace. Sometimes the last thing I felt like at the end of a long day at work was more, well, work. Pilates felt more indulgent, like ‘me time’ and a chance to slow down, while also feeling like a decent workout.
According to Lucinda Mills, owner of One Hot Yoga, herein lies Pilates’ unique charm. Mills herself first came across the workout while recovering from a back injury as a professional dancer. She says it not only helped her to rehabilitate but also to “get it back to performance level”. Incidentally, she also happened to fall in love along the way: “It made me feel strong whilst maintaining my flexibility and dancer physique.”
So could most of us benefit from adding a little Pilates to our lives? In short: yes.
Mills tells me that not only is Pilates a full-body workout in it’s own right, but it’s also the perfect complement to every sport and fitness routine. “A Pilates class is designed to work the entire body,” she explains. “The exercises not only strengthen but also mobilise, stretch and lengthen. Working the muscles and the joints to their full length and capacity results in a strong, supple and well-functioning body. This also means reduction in injury, fatigue and improved athletic performance.”
However, it seems to me that it is often shunned in favour of higher intensity exercise, which lures in devotees with the promise of fast, effective results. I put this to Mills. “There is the perception that Pilates is just lying on the mat breathing with minimal movement,” she agrees, before adding that this “couldn’t be further from the truth”. “Not only is Pilates an incredibly challenging and dynamic workout requiring full body integrated, it is also so much fun!” In addition, Pilates can help with injury rehabilitation or improving performance – both of which are important when it comes to high-intensity training.
While it can be done every day as a person’s main form of exercise, she says the “tough but kind on the body” classes can also added merely once or twice a week to complement a person’s schedule and optimise sport performance or other athletic activities. She adds you can expect to see results fairly quickly, too: “You will feel results immediately! With a dedicated and regular practice; you will notice results in your movement, endurance and flexibility within in the first few weeks. And you will see a complete change in your both your posture and physical appears in the first few months.”
If I wasn’t already a convert (I was), upon learning more about these benefits, I am ready to declare Pilates my one true love.
And in the words of Grande, I have a sneaky feeling: This one gon’ last.