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I've been doing Pilates for over a year including during my second pregnancy. I havent got rid of the tummy yet but only been back for a few months after DD born. Although it is regarded as more gentle exercise it is really hard work as you exercise muscles you have never used in ways you have never used them but i love it - it is a bit like yoga in that there is lots of emphasis on breathing and you can also practice at home. it is not just about getting a flat stomach either but also about posture and maintaining correct balance in all the areas of your body. Would definitely recommend although takes some time to get used to - will feel really weird at first.
IT definitively helped flexibility and tonning, the main difference that I noticed was with my back, I have postural problems due to problems with the archs of my fet that made it painful to stand/sit straight for more than a few minutes. The problem disapeared since then, of course I still have posture problems but if I remind my self to strighten up it doesn't hurt anymore.
They seem very gentle but you will notice the difference. One day I decided to do twice the suggestes routine for the arms (it was dead easy and dead short), my arms were killing me the day afterwards, I felt as if I had been exercising them for an hour rather than the 6-8 min the double routine took.
I know my posture has been affected by all the weight I put on - even though I've lost a lot, its taken its toll. I also had bad SPD during my second pregnancy, which still niggles - eg I cannot sleep without a large pillow between my knees, else I am in agony next morning.
Puff I have been doing Pilates on and off for years - did a class this morning as it happens.
It is particularly good for strengthening the back and abdominal muscles around the spine (the core muscles) which realign your posture.
Plus the controlled movements are very protective of the joints.
I think you should give it a go but remember that it takes a few sessions to learn the basic techniques and breathing.
Pliates is great for all the reasons that have already been mentioned: muscle strength (espcailly of your tummy muscles! , flexibility, and general posture. Add to that the benefits for your pelvic floor and you're on to a winner.
There have been previous threads, here and here , with some advice.
I've also noticed benefits with regard to my posture. I work a lot at a computer and also cycle a lot - both of which meant I usud to get sharp shooting pains between my shoulder blades where I "held" a lot of tension. Pilates has helped me learn how to relax them and generally hold myslef better.
I get frustrated at times about my lack of flexibility - but then I remind myslef how bad I would be if I weren't doing Pilates!
To get maximum benefit you should do it more than once a week - ie practise in between lessons. I have to admit to being a bit remiss with that - although I do use a lot of the techniques in my day to day routine - eg using my stomach muscles to lean forward from the couch to pick up something from the coffee table rather than my back muscles.
Yoyo - there are various qualifications around - and do check that your instructor has one. Some people call themsleves a "Pilates" instructor after just an afternoon training course.
BodyControl Pilates instructors have to go through a really intensive training course, with lots of pysicilogical knowledge as well as pracitcal training - and then are supervised for a number of sessions before they "qualify". My instrucotr is one of the "supervising" teachers, so we often get students giving part of the class.
There are other "formalised" Pilates training organisations - just ask whoever you go to what their training is and how long it took.
pilates is a very precsie technique, involving specific muscle groups per exercsie, and you need to be sure you are taught well.
Here are some links for you to look at for instructors in your area. I only really know about BodyControl Pilates, and my instructor is excellent - but unless you are in Glasgow/Stirlingshire, she'll not be much use to you!