Brisbane Pilates instructor Lisa Jackson and her mum Christine on how Pilates benefits older bodies….
Lisa Jackson – Studio Director, Core Pilates Brisbane
As a Pilates instructor for the past 11 years, I have had the pleasure of working with people from a variety of ages, occupations, and fitness level, including retirees in their 60s and 70s. It is rewarding to help clients who have not exercised for years to use Pilates to achieve a degree of flexibility they may have not enjoyed in decades. Recently I was delighted to hear one client in her 70s credited her regular Pilates practice to her ability to climb on and ride an elephant while on holiday!
Pilates offers a low-impact and effective way to promote strength, balance and flexibility of your spine and whole body in a safe and comfortable environment – perfect exercise for older bodies. Through Pilates you learn to strengthen weak muscles and correct posture.
My mum, Christine, is 67 and discovered the benefits of Pilates later in life. She spent years working at a desk over a computer and suffered a hip bursitis and a partial frozen shoulder whilst working at her office job. Since retiring and participating in two Pilates sessions per week, Mum is reaping the benefits of flexibility through her hips, back and shoulders that had previously caused her pain.
These problems are common as we age. We can also experience postural changes that create a kyphosis (or more commonly known as a hunchback) where our upper spine begins to collapse forward. Lower back pain is often experienced with age, along with hip, knee and shoulder issues. By strengthening the muscles and increasing mobility to the joints that are affected, Pilates can help relieve the pain that so often accompanies these issues for both men and women.
As we get older we can lose confidence in our bodies’ abilities, feel intimidated when entering a gym setting, or find gym-style classes are putting undue stress on our muscles and joints. Pilates teaches us to respect the body we are in and be happy working at a pace that suits us – even overjoyed when we accomplish something we thought would be unattainable. Pilates allows us to have a positive exercise experience and can even help to reduce our risk of falls and allow us remain as active as we can.
Christine Donoghue – Pilates student and Lisa’s mum
At 67, I still do not really like to consider myself as a ‘senior’. When your mind is still very active it is hard to understand that you are ageing, however, sometimes your body just does not do what it once could. In my case this happened after working long hours in front of a computer. First my shoulder became a problem and then my right hip area and lower back. I was finding that walking any distance was uncomfortable.
Lisa introduced me to Pilates many years ago, but it was not until she relocated her Core Pilates studio from Tweed Heads to Brisbane in 2011 that I began practising regularly.
I love using the different Pilates equipment and machines as they assist and support me in what I am trying to achieve. I am challenged in some moves, but it is very satisfying to know that I can do it. For me, the benefit is that I feel stretched and taller after every session! I am stronger in my core so I am able to hold myself up better and I am more open in the chest area. I am also getting more flexibility in my spine. In other words I am not ‘compressed’ in my body anymore. Those differences can make you feel so much younger and improve your self-confidence. You look better because you hold yourself taller.
I am now able to go travelling for long distances, or walking or hiking – movement is a lot easier for me now, be it lifting a leg or bending to do up a shoe. My unit contains two flights of stairs which do not cause me any problems now – and I know that it is thanks to Pilates.
Have you tried Pilates? If you have, what benefits did you discover? If you haven’t, what has stopped you from giving it a go? Tell us below.