Why I’ve Swapped The Gym for Pilates

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I’ve been thinking about starting Pilates for so long. I tried some classes a few years back, but that was in the middle of downhill racing I think. The result being it didn’t really last with me being hooked on adrenaline…

Despite trying everything to get back into some sort of strength routine recently it felt like I wasn’t getting all that far. Dumbells that previously felt light are now rather heavy and my core strength is pretty much non-existent. I searched Youtube and tried old workout sessions I’d always love doing, but the interest just wasn’t there.

Just after Christmas a beginner’s course for Pilates popped up locally, so I managed to sign up despite it being a course in high demand. Pilates must be the thing to do where I live. London has spin classes and North Wales has Pilates I guess.

Anyway, that was that and I was signed up to a 5 week course of beginner’s Pilates. I’d looked for videos on Youtube for Pilates and Yoga before, but you don’t realise how wrong you’re doing things until you go to a class with an instructor that has years of experience. Youtube fitness videos can sometimes be fab, but then at times I think they can actually do you more harm than good.

The biggest battle for me with Pilates was not falling asleep. Not because the class was boring, but just with how deep you have to breathe to do all of the exercises. Your ribs open just as wide as they would in a session on the Wattbike, yet at a third of the pace. How I find lying on a Pilates mat comfy I don’t know. I’ve obviously got the family trait of being able to sleep just about anywhere…

Pilates has been a rather big eye-opener if I’m honest. There’s obviously a big trend in yoga at the moment and your not part of that yoga ‘cliche’ unless you can get your leg by your head, but I’m actually starting to think Pilates is a better place to start. With a knowledgeable instructor, you’ll actually start to use muscles you didn’t know you had and use them properly.

Being a cyclist I quickly noticed my quads are very quick to take over when I’m meant to be using my core strength for an exercise. Something the instructor told me would go over time the stronger I get with Pilates.

It’s the go-to recommendation for GP’s when people have issues with things like their backs and shoulders. Our daily lives aren’t really beneficial to things like posture and using our bodies as they’re intended. The thing that shocked me was just how deep your core muscles go, something I’ve only noticed from doing Pilates. You can be ‘toned’ like all of the influencers on Instagram, but if there’s actually any strength there is another question.

I’m excited to be coming to the end of my Pilates course and making it part of my training routine each week. Yes, I’m more familiar with things like running and cycling, but it’s good to mix it up I think. Especially when it’s something as beneficial as Pilates. After only a few weeks I’ve noticed I’m using my body differently, from carrying out tasks at work or how I run.

So you’ll probably see Pilates pop up on my blog from time to time now it’s part of my routine again. Who knows, it might even help when I’m on the bike. I’m just waiting for all of these storms to disappear first…

The January Slump

At the start of ‘off-season’ I was raring to go after not really accomplishing much on the bike last year. After the London Marathon, everything else seemed a little mediocre. It didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of London. Come off-season I was ready to wipe the slate clean and give 2020 a good go. Now with a Wattbike Atom to train on I really have no excuse, but with a Winter plagued by every bug under the sun that perfect off-season hasn’t really gone to plan. Neither has the blog writing…

BUT

Here I am writing again, so that’s got to be a good sign right?

I thought I’d kick things off with a bit of a motivation themed post, as I can imagine I’m not the only one struggling with those New Year’s Resolutions. So I’ve been trawling through the depths of Youtube to find some inspiring videos to get you (and me) back into the swing of things.

  1. Making It Work: The Lizzie Deignan Story

Years spent at the top of the sport on the track and on the road, this video shows Lizzie’s return to the sport after having her gorgeous little daughter, Orla.

 

2. WHAT IT TAKES: One of the boys

Annemiek van Vleuten is a force to be reckoned with to say the least. After a big crash during the Olympic Road Race in 2016 it was questionable whether she would be able to return to the sport. With lumbar spinal fractures (yes multiple fractures) she was back on the podium a month later taking 1st on a stage in the Lotto Belgium Women’s Tour. In this video she joins the boys of Mitchelton Scott on their training camp.

 

3. Rising: No Train No Gain w/ Kate Courtney

A bit of gym inspiration off XC rider Kate Courtney, who is another Scott rider. This video follows her at a gym session at Red Bull HQ.

 

4. Lucy Charles – Road to Kona

Regularly popping up on my Instagram, Lucy Charles-Barclay is one of the biggest names in Ironman. Her laid back persona doesn’t stop her putting her all into training and racing. This video follows her quest to get on the top step at Ironman’s biggest race in Kona, Hawaii.

5. Beyond the Bike – Casey Brown

Now this video is from the archives way back when I was racing downhill. This was a video I watched multiple times the Saturday night before a race. It would be this or mountain bike film ‘Life Cycles‘. This video is a bit different from the ones above, but it’s definitely one to watch to give you a nudge to follow your dreams.

 

So I hope you’ll be leaving  this blog post with the fire in your belly again. I’ve lost it a little this off-season. I’ve even questioned if I want to race anymore, but looking through Youtube’s many pages has helped me get that focus back.

Falling off the wagon is ok, it’s just if you’re going to stay on the ground or brush yourself off and get back on. Even if you fall off again, it’s just important you get back on.