Andrea Young in her Corefit studio

Andrea Young
the clinical Pilates and
functional movement specialist

Pilates at Corefit

What to expect

The first thing you will receive at Corefit is a warm welcome! And not just from me – my clients are a very friendly bunch. Secondly you will get individual attention throughout the class. I will make sure that you know how to do each exercise with proper form by demonstration and verbal instruction. And if you’re agreeable, by gentle hands-on contact to guide your posture. But I won’t single you out or make you feel uncomfortable.

To begin a fitness class by relaxing may seem at odds with the whole idea of why you’re there, but by giving yourself a few moments to forget the outside world you can then bring your mind to focus on the task in hand. It’s not a soft option I promise you.

Focusing inwards, you can begin to think about your body, where it is in space, where the weight and centre of gravity is and where your limbs are. Remember that bones and muscles have no ego .... they don’t care who is doing what next to you. You can even shut your eyes for this bit!

Next we carefully think about bringing our body into good alignment, a place where the spine adopts its natural, neutral ‘S’ curve giving it strength and stability. The shoulders and pelvic girdle are brought into line with the spine and stabilised. The limbs find their natural and correct relationship with the shoulders and hips.

We turn the mind to breathing. The purpose of the breath in Pilates is to assist our movement. Actually this is true in everything we do, not just in Pilates class, yet so many people breathe inefficiently and ineffectively. To lock in good alignment, or centring as Pilates called it, we activate the core musculature.

One we have established these initial principles then we are ready to move, and we keep all of the above in mind throughout, focusing on the quality of movement. This means co-ordination not only of our limbs but using our mind to wilfully, intentionally move the body whilst co-ordinating our breathing with our physical movement. Many speak of flexibility and the lengthening and toning muscles as principles of Pilates These are achieved through slow, flowing controlled movement that are the essence of a Pilates class.

Corefit Pilates classes are matwork based and are clinical classes. Throughout a lesson (which usually starts standing up) we may perform various exercises from different positions; standing, lying, kneeling, sitting and all-fours. Though not always all in one session!

All exercises are performed with your individual needs taken into account. Not everyone is able to perform every exercise, and you are never asked or expected to do any exercise with which you are uncomfortable.

Engage the core!

A female client performing a standing Pilates exercise

This term, used much more frequently in exercise circles nowadays, is a fundamental principle not just of Pilates but of many exercises and is relevant to most of the major movements we make throughout every day. It’s really important to know how to do this properly and it’s one of the first things you learn at Corefit. Put simply, engaging the core means to switch on the muscular girdle that makes up your core, so that it’s primed and ready to allow your limbs to move in a stabilised and supported fashion, whilst simultaneously protecting your back and safeguarding your posture. Done once it becomes easier to do again and again, until it eventually becomes almost second nature. But for many people it’s a tricky thing to get the hang of. There are several different cues and visualisations that can be used to assist – it’s just a case of finding one that works for you.

What has surprised me is the number of people I’ve seen who have practised Pilates previously, yet following a session at Corefit have said that it’s the first time they’ve understood, or been made aware, how to properly engage their core. Thankfully it’s not hard to pick up once you have cues that are effective for you.

The benefits of Pilates

With the guidance of a good practitioner Pilates can help with many conditions and offers many benefits —

  • General fitness and well-being
  • Better relaxation and sleep patterns
  • Back pain and back care
  • Postural issues
  • Rehabilitation after illness or injury
  • Improved sporting performance
  • Change unhealthy movement patterns
  • Joint conditions, especially hip, shoulder and knee
  • Osteoporosis and osteopenia
  • Ante and post-natal health
  • Post-partum abdominal separation
  • Pelvic girdle and pelvic floor health

Always talk to a prospective practitioner first to explicitly understand how they can help you.

Can Pilates help you?

Everyone can benefit from Pilates. I love Pilates and I believe in Pilates. However, I see it it as just one of the tools in my arsenal (albeit a fundamental one) to help my clients. It is not the panacea for all ills.

I am happy to say that more and more medical practitioners are advising patients with musculoskeletal issues to take up Pilates in order to address pain and other symptoms, usually because of improvements in core strength and posture. But even so, often these practitioners are speaking in general terms. Pilates in its original form (and also some modern commercial forms) is probably not appropriate to a patient with spinal issues.

Pilates can and must fit the client, the client must not be made to feel they have to fit a specific Pilates method. If you have any kind of spinal or girdle issue then many exercises, including some Pilates exercises, are contra-indicated for you; you will not be able to achieve them you and should not aspire to. This should be recognised and only those exercises that can and will bring you benefit should be prescribed. Your practitioner should be someone you can trust to do this.

If you decide to exercise at Corefit you have the option of working purely with Pilates or taking things further to include other kinds of healthy, functional exercise.