At Healthy Ambitions, we work with your abilities to help you get the best from your body in any situation – whether you’re new to Pilates and would like to find out what it can do for you, or are advancing and keen to improve your technique outside of a class setting. Thanks to its immense therapeutic benefits, we also employ Pilates exercises as part of our sports therapy and injury rehab services.
We offer both one-to-one and small group Pilates tuition in our own studio, as well as group classes on behalf of larger gyms throughout Edinburgh.
For advice or to arrange an appointment, just get in touch.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is both a style of exercise and a specific training system originally devised by Joseph Pilates (1880-1967). It has evolved considerably from the original set of exercises, and contemporary adaptations encompass the latest scientific understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and fitness.
In general, Pilates is strength and endurance training for the muscles that support and control your spine. Reinforcing the mind-body connection through smooth, controlled movement, Pilates enables you to become more aware of your body and realise its potential to improve your quality of life.
Most importantly, the Pilates Method isn’t a special club only for those “in the know”. Anyone can learn to use these principles and apply them to practically any other area of their physical and mental wellbeing.
Postural re-alignment and enhancement
Your body is unique – and at Healthy Ambitions, we want you to get the most from it. We want to improve your range of movement throughout the entire spine, shoulders and hips, strengthen the muscles that provide support and stability, and lengthen the muscles that provide movement giving you an overall taller, leaner posture. Pilates on its own will not make you lose abdominal fat – but it will make you look like you have!
Rehabilitation from illness or injury
Working with qualified, experienced osteopaths, physiotherapists and health professionals, we can help you to recover from your illness or injury and ideally prevent it from affecting your life wherever possible. Pilates is excellent for recuperative purposes due to the low load placed on the muscles, focus on facilitating range of movement and emphasis on precision and control.
Prevention is better than cure. Many injuries can be contributed to by instabilities or weaknesses in the muscles that control your joints during either repetitive or exceptional movement – for example by stretching or straining too far – and at Healthy Ambitions we look at how we can adapt your movement patterns to keep this to an absolute minimum.
Pre- and post-natal care
Whether or not this is your first pregnancy, Pilates with Healthy Ambitions can help keep your body moving so you can enjoy all the fun of expecting. Your usual exercise routine may need to be modified as the trimesters progress, perhaps changing the style of your workout from strenuous to invigorating, and then focusing on the muscles and flexibility you’ll need for late pregnancy and birth.
Unless advised otherwise by your doctor, the best thing you can do for your body after the big day is to keep up all the good work you’ve accomplished by continuing your Pilates strength, endurance and flexibility training, gradually reintroducing your favourite activities and bringing your fitness back to pre-pregnancy levels.
Pain management strategies
Working with your body, we’ll help you to find ways in which you can move more easily, enabling you to manage your everyday tasks. This could be as simple as reorganising your work area, keeping your joints moving on a regular basis, or even just getting up once an hour to walk around.
Our joints work on a “use it or lose it” principle – if we stop moving in a certain way, we won’t be able to move in that way. We want to keep your joints as supple as possible through mobilisation, stretching and strengthening.
Relaxation and stress management
Pilates can be extremely beneficial to help combat stress and stress-related aches and pains. Learning to consciously relax as well as contract your muscles can help you discover what may be physiological reasons for your stress signs and symptoms.
The slow and precise nature of Pilates and emphasis on controlled breathing gives you the chance to slow your body and thoughts down from a whirlwind pace. Simply taking time for yourself to do something you enjoy, in the process removing yourself from stress-inducing situations, can make a huge difference to your quality of life.
Critics of Pilates have said that the exercises do not produce enough pull of the muscle on the bone to produce bone density increase, but recent research into the biomechanics and physiological and skeletal effects of Pilates has proven that this is not in fact the case. A regular Pilates class will encourage bone density without any impact which might otherwise stress fragile bones.
Osteoporosis or “brittle bone disease” occurs when the bones suffer a loss in calcium, vitamin D and other mineral content, becoming more porous and brittle. This makes the bones more susceptible to breaking under what might be normal stress for another person. In the UK, half of all women as well as one in five men aged over 50 will fracture a bone as a result of osteoporosis
Our bone density levels peak at around age thirty, then deteriorates by approx one percent per year. This can be accelerated by many other risk factors and it is wise to be aware of them. Taking preventative measures such as regular weight-bearing exercise, getting enough sunlight and eating and drinking healthily can help protect you.
There are many factors which can affect our likelihood of developing osteoporosis:
- Gender – women develop bone density loss approx three times faster then men.
- Age – the rate of bone density loss increases with age.
- Hormones – early menopause (before 45) for women, low testosterone levels for men.
- Heredity – women with a maternal parent experiencing the condition are more susceptible.
- Diet – a lack of calcium and vitamin D; excess alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks all reduce calcium absorption.
- Body type – slender frames are more susceptible.
- Sedentary lifestyle – a lack of weight-bearing exercise contributes to the rate at which the skeleton ages. When muscles pull on bones to provide movement this stimulates blood flow and nutrient (calcium) delivery. Lesser-used muscles will affect bone density in those areas.
- Smoking – affects calcification and the mineral content of bones.
- Menstrual irregularities, anorexia – interruptions to monthly cycles affect hormone levels and bone density.
- Ethnicity – Caucasian and Asian people are more susceptible.
- Medication – some drugs contribute to loss of bone density (corticosteroids and anticonvulsants).
- Nulliparity – women who have never experienced a pregnancy are more at risk as hormone levels rise during pregnancy
Cardiovascular, power and endurance training
Pilates shouldn’t be a stand-alone exercise regime. These common-sense principles can apply to any other kind of exercise you want to excel in. Strengthening your postural muscles and performing movements with precision and control can only benefit your other training routines as you’ll be able to achieve for longer, delivering more power and strength to your movements.
The ability to perform an exercise slowly with perfect control gives you the knowledge you need to keep perfect form moving with explosive power. We can deliver the training solution you need to further your ambitions.
Pilates doesn’t need to be the “exercise for people who can’t do anything else”; Pilates is about lengthening the muscles as well as strengthening so they can work efficiently throughout your whole range of movement.
This will make you look taller and leaner; and even though Pilates alone will not reduce abdominal fat, it will make you look like you have a flatter tummy. For best results, Healthy Ambitions combine a specific Pilates program with cardiovascular interval training, to shape up and tone your body.
If you’re looking to improve your overall muscle tone or if you have areas you want to particularly concentrate on, Healthy Ambitions can help you reach your goals.