“In 10 sessions you’ll feel a difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.” – Joseph Pilates
I’m going to share my very own pilates before and after results with you.
I suffered from S.I. (sacroiliac) joint pain about eight weeks after giving birth to Foster. It sucked. Big time. I basically couldn’t walk without sharp pains stabbing me at the top of my butt crack. Very annoying.
After two months of physical therapy, I thought I was game for another round of BBG. But about five weeks in, I realized that it just wasn’t the right exercise for my current stage of life/recovery from birth. (Yes, it’s been seven months, eye roll emoji.) I wanted to find something else that would literally rehabilitate by my body.
Then I came across the above quote. I’ve heard it before. The first time was years ago from my best friend sometime around the end of high school. She was “rolling like a ball’ on her living room floor one day and happily announced to her father and I that in one month she was going to have abs of steel and a whole, new body. And I’m not sure why, but after all of these years, I’d never thought to do a 30 day challenge and put that quote to the test. Until now.
I felt that I needed to slow down my fitness journey, start over, and rebuild my strength from the ground, or core, up. And most importantly, I had to protect my back. So I decided now was the best time to put that quote, and pilates in general, to the test.
I’d like to welcome you to my little pilates journey. I’ll be recapping my results after 10, 20 and 30 days. But before we go any further, here’s why I’m interested in doing this pilates challenge:
Gives You Abs of Steel
Your core, or your ‘powerhouse’ in pilates speak, is the key to a strong, healthy body. It’s also the foundation for every single pilates exercise. Pilates focuses on the core more than any other exercise method. According to this Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study, women strengthened their abs (specifically, the rectus abdominis, or six-pack area) about 21% after 36 weeks of pilates training.
Helps to Fix Your Whack Ass Back
The reason so many women experience back pain during and after pregnancy is the severe lack of functioning ab muscles. Since pilates focuses so heavily on strengthening the core, it also equates to a much stronger, healthier back. People with chronic back pain who practice pilates find more relief than those who do not. Something about stabilizing the core’s lumbar-pelvic region helps to alleviate stress to that area (the exact area I had pain myself).
Goes Easy on the Joints (and the Boobs)
Most pilates movements are slow and controlled and done lying down. Most are done on a mat, or a reformer, which has very thick padding. Essentially, it’s extremely low-impact and therefore easy on the joints. And if you have big boobs like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate any exercise that does not include flopping about or bouncing around, especially postpartum. And if you have any “delicate areas”, as Maurie Windsor likes to say, you’ll also find modifications for further ease.
Is Like Meditating
It’s quite hard to do pilates effectively whilst distracted. Each exercise has you focus on your breath, your body, and how they’re moving together. You have to concentrate, especially when doing new movements. You’re forced to focus, and the never-ending chatter in your mind forced into silence for a bit, which is a lovely respite.
Strengthens Your Pelvic Floor
The concept of ‘lifting your pelvic floor’ really just means doing Kegels. What I didn’t realize though, was that your ‘pelvic floor’ doesn’t just mean your lady parts. It means the entire base of the abdomen and and anything attached to the pelvis. All of this gets jacked up during pregnancy and the aftermath. Pilates’ focus on the abdomen and pelvis makes it a great way to rehabilitate this area after birth, or any time really.
Improves Your Performance
What we really mean here is that every muscle in your body is connected in some way to your core. Your core helps with balance and stabilization, endurance, posture and speed, etc. Basically, strengthening your core means improving your body’s overall ability function. For an athlete, that means your athletic performance. For a Dana, that means, carrying a gigantic baby up and down stairs and in and out of the house in a car seat. I suppose you could say that pilates is hopefully going to improve my physical mom performance.
Increases Your Flexibility
Nothing makes a lady feel older that being stiff and unable to touch her toes, amiright? Apparently, after just 20 pilates sessions, peeps became about 19% more flexible. Tight muscles mean short muscles and a limited range of motion. Loose muscles mean long muscles and an increased range of motion. Pilates creates the latter.
Improves Your Bone Density
All strength training helps to increase bone density. Anytime you pair resistance and weight-bearing exercise, you’ll help to improve it. Pilates does just that. Especially if you add resistance bands to your regular mat workouts. Which I’ll be doing now. Bone density is super important to avoid osteoporosis, which is common in women as we age. Don’t break ya hip!
Helps to Prevent Injuries
For all of the same reasons pilates improves performance, it can also prevent injury. (Like, S.I. joint pain injuries.) Improved strength, flexibility and balance are key to reducing overall risk of injury in life in general.
Helps You Sit Up Straight and Avoid a Humpback
Man, every time I go visit my grandma in her senior living home, I’m struck to my core with a fear of folding in half as I age with a big lump, like so many of the elderly people I see there. And especially now that most of us sit at desks all day, our posture is terrible. Pilates helps to reverse this humpback decline by creating better muscle symmetry and balance. Your crazy strong pilates core will help you to stand up straighter and stay that way.
My Results So Far
Though my lower back pain was gone after physical therapy, I still felt weak. My shoulders and neck ached at the end of the day due in part to poor posture, and the strain of carrying my 20 lb baby around. My belly felt flabby and weak as well. And I felt tight and inflexible.
After (10 Days)
I find myself walking taller and feeling stronger. My core feels stronger and my belly a bit flatter and firmer. It feels as if the posture and controlled movement I’m forced into on the mat, are bleeding over to daily life. I find myself picking up the car seat and baby with more focus and control and adjusting my posture anytime I catch myself slumping.
For Reference in Numbers
I started this journey at 141 lbs (about 10 lbs from my pre-baby weight) and for shits and giggles I measured my natural waist and hips, which were 32” and 39” respectively. I’ll be interested to see if pilates helps me lose any inches, which would mean it’s helping my body regain its pre-baby shape. Because it’s so true, even if you get back to your previous number on the scale post baby, it doesn’t mean all that much because the shape of your body might have changed dramatically as well.
Dude, making babies is weird.
What I’ve Actually Been Doing
I bought this exact DVD back in the day, when DVDs were a thing. No clue what happened to it. My college roommate and I actually used to do this exact video hungover in my attic bedroom. Shocking that it wasn’t effective when paired with binge drinking and cheetos.
I chose it now though because a.) I wanted to start with something simple and attainable. Doing 20 minutes every single day for 30 days would be a success for me. And b.) It’s available for free on Youtube. It’s also a great intro to pilates. And she has modified versions of each exercise to make it even more accessible. I’d say any fitness level can do it.
Perhaps now that I’ve passed the 10 day mark, I’ll look for another free Youtube workout that’s a bit more challenging. I’ve had my eye on Blogilates for a while.
I did five days straight, then took one day off for FlyWheel with my sister-in-law, and then did another 5 days straight. I’ll write another update at the 20 day mark!
What about you? Do you do pilates? Are you interested? Are you an instructor and wanna chat with me? Leave a comment below!