I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the basic demographic of my class members – mostly women between 45-65 (although not all) but following a few interesting conversations recently I felt it was important to delve a little deeper into your “why”. What factors bring you to Pilates each week, how is it helping and most importantly how can it be improved?

After sending a survey to a randomly selected group of my female members, here are some of my findings…

Pelvic Floor / Stress Incontinence

I recently had a conversation where a member mentioned that her regular Pilates classes had helped with stress incontinence to the point where she had reversed the need for the surgery her GP was recommending.

Given the age range of my members (post natal – some more recently than others – and peri, pre and post menopausal) I wondered if this was an issue for more of you. And it seems it is!

Stress Incontinence has affected over 75% of you! I include myself in that group. Happily 90% of you say that say you are happy with understanding how to strengthen pelvic floor and the importance of this technique.

Stress incontinence is reported to affect 1 in 4 women and more worryingly with the sale of products such as Tena, I believe many women see this as an issue they have to “manage” or “live with”.

Happily, whilst many of you listed this as a reason for joining Pilates – very few of you listed it as something you are currently concerned about – I hope this means Pilates has helped to reverse the symptoms.

I include a huge pelvic floor classes and I very much view it as one of the primary muscles responsible for core strength and pelvic/lumbar stability so whilst it may not always be a phrase that I use, rest assured you are working and strengthening it in class.

Current concerns

In my survey I listed a multiple choice of reasons for doing Pilates. My experience of teaching classes influenced the list but I was interested to check if there was anything else I might be missing as well.

Most popular reasons were

  • To build strength

  • General toning

  • Flexibility

  • Future proofing

One person wrote in the comments “I feel young in my mind and Pilates helps me to feel young in my body as well” which I absolutely love. Pilates is a form of exercise that you will be able to do forever. We might vary the intensity or the focus but essentially it is a great investment for your body and as far as “future proofing” – maintaining supplesness, mobility, strength, balance – there is nothing better.

I know from your starter forms that many of you began Pilates because of an injury and yet “Injury” was bottom of the list of “current concerns”. Which means you no longer have the injury and yet still attend…happy dance!

We know that Pilates is an amazing form of rehab for injuries but my classes really aim to not only rehab but to also equip you with the tools necessary to avoid future injury. My aim in class is to empower you with good awareness of your body, an understanding of anatomy and how to move safely. This knowledge will keep you injury free in the future because as well as moving more efficiently and with better balance, you will understand your bodies, feeling when to push on and recognise when your body needs rest.

Interestingly balance came quite low on the list of things you are currently concerned about, but a few of you mentioned in the comments that it has improved since doing Pilates which is great. Pilates has huge benefits on balance because of its ability to target not only the core muscles but also the smaller, stabilizing muscles. These will support you (literally) as you age.

Community

One lovely outcome of the survey was the way you were all reflected as such a huge part of the reason people keep coming, here are some comments…

“Love the class and people!”

“I’ve made new friends in our chatty-Tuesday class.”

“Like meeting all the other people & how you involve us all.”

“Wondered if we could all go to Rokers for a coffee after the Tuesday class every now & again??”

Headspace

I’ve spoken about my love of exercise before – I call it “moving meditation” because I really value the time spent out of my own head!! Pilates is particularly good for this because of the concentration needed and many of you listed it as one of the reasons you come to Pilates. Here are some of your comments on the mental benefits of Pilates

“I always leave a class feeling good.”

“I feel mentally and physically better after a session”

“I completely switch off from the outside world in your classes as I’m (trying) to work so hard.”

“I have a stronger core and better posture. It also helps me to relax by concentrating on correct breathing and blocking everything else out. I also find it energising.”

“Surprising about how it leaves you feeling happier.”

Suggestions

I’m always keen to find ways to improve the classes or make them more tailored to what YOU need. Here are some of your suggestions

“Exercises for ankles and wrists”

“More work to strengthen knees”

“Sometimes I’m not 100% sure I’m doing it right” – My classes are a little different in that I try not to spend too much time going from person to person adjusting. Instead I look at the group and whilst occasionally I might direct a comment your way, more often I direct these adjustments to the whole group. I find this encourages the individual to think more about their own positioning, what they are feeling and become more in tune with their own bodies to self correct. Saying that, this point is noted and certainly for the newer members, more hands on adjusting is coming your way!

Feel free to send me suggestions any time, I’m really keen to involve you in the class content, feedback is always welcome.

Comments

Finally here are some of the lovely comments I received. These genuinely make me so happy.

“Yes – it has made be more aware of my body. I try to use Pilates in everyday life not just during class. I have even shown my husband some of the exercises!”

“I think you are a great teacher – encouraging and always pushing us to do our best. I always leave feeling happy!”

“My hips no longer creek when getting off the sofa!”

“I’ve discovered how unbalanced my body is & how certain parts are much weaker than others. It’s improved my posture.” 

“Love all the classes & what’s done in them.”

“Surprising benefits have been huge improvement to knee injury. Managing stress incontinence to the point I can say I don’t have it anymore. Also managing a long term back issue”

“I love the classes, they are full of variety so never become too repetitive, there is always something new to learn, with lots of options for each exercise to build up to the harder levels.”

“Doing the classes regularly produces real results, they are challenging but so absolutely worth it, I just want to keep improving and get better.” 

“Love the professionalism you have but such a caring attitude. “ “Yes it definately makes a difference to muscle tone, strength, pelvic floor & general wellbeing”