Pilates is like brushing your teeth

Pilates is like brushing your teeth, your teeth need cleaning every day at least twice a day, it looks after them, protects them, cleans them nicely and the added bonus is you have minty, lovely breath. Pilates is a bit like that, to reap the benefits, you have to do it everyday! I know I hear some of you cry, but that’s the truth, you can’t just wave a magic wand and hope your body is going to be strong, fit and supple and pain free. You have to do something about it.

In 1996, over 23 years ago whilst living in Australia I discovered Pilates, I’d heard of yoga but never Pilates so it was brand new to me, it certainly wasn’t mentioned during my Sports Science Degree at the University of Brighton or during the time I played at a high level of national junior squash. I wish I had, but the reality is, everyone says that and you can’t change the past, you just have to accept (sometimes easier said than done) where you’re at and do something about it. If you are lucky enough to not just discover Pilates but actually learn it properly and really truly benefit from it in a way that’s completely tailored and right for you, you’ll never look back.

 I remember vividly living in Bondi Beach in Australia as a backpacker all those years ago and a particular job I was doing really aggravated my back and was causing me a lot of pain so I’d gone off to a sports injury clinic there and they had recommended Pilates, a form of exercise which I discovered alongside the practitioner exercises really helped me. In fact many of the exercises I was given were Pilates exercises, and I kept it going. What I realised was that you had to keep doing it, it wasn’t just a magic cure!! 

Further along the line in my travels I was involved in a road traffic accident, I was cycling to work in Cairns, northern Queensland, Australia and a car hit me at a crossroads, they hadn’t stopped. The roads were pretty quiet at 6.30am in the morning, I remember laying motionless on the road. My helmet (thank goodness I was wearing one), had smashed the windscreen, my wrist, distal radius bone had shattered & I landed on my back on the road, luckily I had a rucksack on my back to slightly cushion the blow. I’m shedding a few tears writing this, as often there are several or many layers of the onion to heal after injury, loss, accidents, pain and injury. I remember someone trying to help me to breathe, am assuming that was a paramedic. It was like I couldn’t move initially, frozen still on the road, the immense pain set in my wrist and I was stretchered off to hospital with a neck collar, the wrist was plated and screwed in an operation to start the mending, healing process and fortunately they did a good job. Physical pain and physical agony isn’t nice, it’s not easy to cope with but when you add in a fatigue, depression and post traumatic stress to that, personally I find mental pain harder than physical pain, I don’t know about you. I really do believe that Pilates helps with both. When I arrived back in the UK, slowly recovering and re-habilitating from the accident: I thought to myself: ‘What on earth am I going to do for a living?’ And for some reason, Pilates came to me, I was weak physically and mentally more than I’d ever been before, but having the training to look forward to and seeing little improvements each day and going for lessons really started to boost my mind and body in equal measure. I qualified with the BCPA, Body Control Pilates Association in London and went on to open my own studios in Hertfordshire which I had for 16 years, not surprisingly becoming well known for helping countless clients with their back pain, the accident they had, and especially things like prolapsed discs, back pain and spinal stenosis all things I have experienced or live with and helped them with too & continue to do this now.

Roll on another 21 years and here I am back teaching after a very short break! I must say I think it’s overlooked how much Pilates can help people emotionally and mentally, as everyone is coming along for their backs and bodies in some way. So that’s a bonus that you feel more positive, uplifted, happy, often have more energy and feel calmer from doing a Pilates lesson, but the thing is you don’t want to just go to a Pilates lesson once a week, you want to learn how to incorporate it into your lifestyle and practice a little bit everyday for maximum benefits, you deserve this.

Why do I still do Pilates everyday? Because I need it and that is the frank and truthful answer. A lot of damage was done to my back over the years, not just from that accident, but it started much younger with overuse in competitive sport and poor training at times which heavily strained an underdeveloped body from primary to teens. Pilates is actually in my opinion the best exercise to do from an early age to prevent injury, but that may take another century or two to crack that one and help it become more accessible. Children actually love it when given the chance, but this is few and far between. 

My favourite teaching is looking after people either one to one or in small groups such as teaching 4 clients, enabling you as the teacher to really tailor it to you. I’m over the moon to have found the perfect venue for this in Lilliput Health, Total Therapy in Parkstone Poole, a chance to work alongside so many excellent practitioners, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors etc, a team really helping people with their bodies. My job is to help you be pro-active in your recovery from back pain, prolapsed discs or whatever ache, pain or injury has been going on and help you do the RIGHT exercises for you. The thing is not every Pilates exercise is suitable, so you need to know what you are doing. 

Pilates is like learning to ride a bike, it takes a bit of time to get the hang of it, will tell you more about that in the next blog coming up. It’s so empowering when you learn how to strengthen your body in a safe way, your confidence increases, you core stability soars step by step and your posture improves, your muscle balance improves, your muscles stretch and feel better. Knowing how to practice for 5 or 10 minutes daily at home is such a relief knowing you are doing something so positive for yourself, also thinking about how you sit, stand, walk, move and get out of bed in the morning all help too. You can benefit from Pilates in every area of your life, I’m a big fan of relaxation too, teaching you how to relax and do relaxations, even 5 minute relaxations can be of huge benefit, your muscles need a rest too and they need to learn how to release and not just work, it’s about getting that balance and Pilates can really help you do that. Have had many clients fall asleep in the 5 minute relaxation! You can enjoy that very relaxation on my Pilates with Beverley YOU Tube channel which had just had a little re-vamp. Relaxation is actually the first principle of Pilates.

It’s with huge gratitude that I’m writing this blog for you today, as Pilates really has changed my life, it’s a bit like mindfulness too in that you have to concentrate so much on what you’re doing during your Pilates lesson that you’re fully present and I think the breathing helps a lot too, not just with maintaining a good core stability but also from a focus, concentration and being able to switch off from other things, especially anything stressful, enabling you to cope and feel better. Many people say they sleep better too, all added benefits. I’d be lying if I said I was completely free of symptoms, as I’m not, I still get nerve pain, muscles stiffness etc! however it makes a huge difference and I hope it either does, or continues to do for you too. We can all work on and make the most of what we’ve got and improve on that tenfold. 

Each day, each month, each year and each decade you can get fitter & stronger with Pilates

Beverley Densham

Pilates Expert

Pilates at Lilliput Health, Total Therapy Telephone 01202 725090