Can 30 Days Of Pilates Really Change You?

Studio Pilates claimed to be able to transform my body in 30 days. I’m happy to say I was skeptical, but gave it a go. Here’s a recount of the experience.

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Everyone has a claim.

A diet will help you shed kilos, boot camps will alter your body, removing sugar will make you feel healthier. Truly, finding a positive change you can make is actually pretty easy; the real difficulty is the total change that things seem to required – the immersion that living the supposed ‘healthy’ life requires.

The claim we were testing here is that Studio Pilates can transform how you feel inside your body. In just 30 days.

Naturally, any claim is met with a healthy skepticism. Pilates is a low impact exercise performed on a machine called a reformer, specifically designed to target individual muscle areas by placing them under consistent pressure to tone them. It’s less about building muscle (unless you begin it without any recent history of exercise) and more about emphasizing what you’ve got. At least, that’s our take on things.

But in terms of transforming your overall well being – that is a bold statement, especially with only a month and even more so when your particular trialist loves his wine and food, might rock up hungover to a 6.30am session and is not a mornings person. At all. Sometimes, my work out top was even inside out when I arrived and I hadn’t even noticed.

So where do we begin. Feeling pretty good actually; having played sport for most of the winter and previous experience with Pilates I felt like I had this one in the bag before I walked through the door. And for the first couple of work outs, even though they were back to back, my muscles felt as if they could take the strain. Every work out began with a focus on the core – not just the stomach muscles but the whole middle of your body – stomach, neck, a bit of chest and those muscles just underneath your chest which are often the most neglected because we slouch over a computer all day. Those ones, I didn’t have any of and after a couple of sessions, that was by far the most excruciating feeling, even though it was just the warm up. More on why later.

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I profess to having little interest in having the ‘best buns in Adelaide’ but you behind and legs certainly get a solid amount of focus. Reformers, unlike running or your more conventional leg and butt exercises at the gym, are very low impact but I would argue even more effective because you’re constantly under strain and as soon as one of the smaller muscles becomes exhausted in those areas and the burn really sets in, you have no choice but to hold your technique and keep pushing it. You can’t let your bigger muscles take over and while that often leads to more defined results in the long run it can mean major muscle imbalances and increased stress on the joints as a result. Suddenly, my buns as one of the largest muscle groups in my lower body became a focus because, quite simply, if they weren’t ready to work my legs would pack up and be like “Hell no, we’re not lifting that, you’re crazy.” Crazy maybe, but we always pushed through.

That’s one of the rare things about Pilates in a Studio Pilates environment. You’re exercising as a group, much like conventional circuit work outs, but you’re far more welcome to got at your own pace. Everyone is working, and along with the instructors they are all pushing through it and encouraging you on. But if something isn’t quite right or exhaustion has set in there is nor pressure (or silent shaming as some crazy fit lunatic just powers on with a smile on their face). You keep going, you might slow down or lessen your load, but you never feel like you’re going to hurt yourself if you keep pushing through. Extra care is taken to make sure no pain is experiences in your back and especially your neck, which considering the pressure your muscles are placed under during each work out, is perhaps a foreign experience for some. It’s hard to describe how low impact training can be so stressful, but that’s the secret of pilates. And where Studio Pilates differs from other toning work outs like Yoga. Never mind your chakras babe, you’re worrying about pushing through, gritting your teeth and getting on with the 45 minutes routine.

By changing the routine every day, you never get too bored of the work out and while it is all kept going by pre-recorded videos on screens around the studio which show you the correct technique executed by especially attractive and capable people, even that’s not monotonous. Though I must confess, I did get a little tired of the “good job” and “well done” encouragement at the end of each exercise… because when you’re exhausted you expect a bit more praise to keep you going. Just as well the instructors always have your back and keep you motivated.

Of the 30 Day Challenge, I came in 18 days. Other days, I did have sport so I guess I exercised around 24 of the days overall. To be honest, my body as a close-to-30 year old was starting to get a bit tired by the end of it all, but that’s nothing that a couple of days rest can’t fix. Seeing as I already was exercising, I didn’t expect to notice terribly much change in myself, but I must say, I was flawed. Soreness in my back and neck (yes, I crouch over a computer all day) started to disappear, my posture felt naturally better without having to put in effort. My energy levels, considering I’d been waking up at 6.00am every morning making my work day around 14 hours, were really good and I felt stronger. The strain you feel when you go to lift a heavy box to put in back at the top of a cupboard was completely gone. My whole body became, for want of a better word, stronger. Not bigger, but stronger.

But then I went and did something that you shouldn’t do. I went cold turkey, stopped Pilates altogether again and in the 4 weeks since I have finished I can say I don’t feel quite the same. I lost a lot of the strength I’d gained (not all) and I began to notice just how the exercise was helping my everyday. I’m not a vain person (my face is too long and weird to think of myself as a pretty boy in any way), so any muscle definition I might have had (and those buns Studio Pilates helped me create) are long gone. But it’s the feeling of being more in touch with my body that I miss the most. Certainly not the early mornings.

But with a new Studio Pilates in the city near my office, I’m looking forward to getting back into things soon. Maybe even do the 30 Day Challenge again this November. Regardless, pilates is the sort of work out that’s incredibly challenging, but so much more rewarding than any other gym, yoga studio or training regime I’ve been a part of. It’s hard (and I love a physical challenge) but it doesn’t ruin my body for the rest of the day, and it was a surprising challenge for my mind. When you’re focused on technique to get through a work out instead of pushing through overall exhaustion as someone barks at you that it’s good for you, something changes in your mind. It’s not about how hard you work, but how smartly you do it.

Studio Pilates has locations at 121B The Parade, Norwood and 9 Young St in the City. They pair nutritional advice with the 30 Day Challenge but I didn’t take that advice only because I wasn’t keen on it. And they were ok with that. Find out more about Studio Pilates via their website and contact the Studio Pilates team locally at [email protected] to find out more about what they offer.

We highly recommend it.

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