blackberries Pilates blog

Blackberries – superfood and super fun

Blackberries aren’t just good for you because of what is in them. To pick them in the wild means a nice little bit of exercise and a great deal of well-being.

Foraging for blackberries
Foraging for blackberries

Foraging with the family

Blackberry picking has been a family favourite activity for many years. For the first time this year I took my son and he loved it. It didn’t take long before he became quite a connoisseur as to which were the best berries to pick! It always amazes me how many of nature’s juicy berries can be found just in the brambles on a country walk.

Blackberries are said to be a superfood

Blackberries the ‘superfood’

Blackberries are often referred to as a superfood. Foraging this juicy berry this week got me wondering what gives its reputation as a superfood?

These deep purple berries are in fact packed with nutrition. Blackberries are said to contain antioxidants, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin K.

According to bbcgoodfood.com just 10 blackberries count towards one of your five a day. Containing Vitamin K blackberries are also good for bone health. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that makes proteins for healthy bones and normal blood clotting (wellandgood.com).

Strong bones

Exercise helps to make both muscles and bones stronger. Weight bearing and resistance exercises help to make our bones stronger, building this strength wen we are younger and maintaining it when we are older. Pilates, as a form of exercise, is beneficial in helping to maintain bone strength and improving muscle strength and balance. Therefore, aiming to keep our muscles and bones healthy from the outside in but it seems there is lots goodness packed in these berries that can help from the inside out!

Contributing to wellbeing

Although we know that these juicy berries have lots of goodness one of the best things for me was the enjoyment of getting outside and picking them. Going back to nature and getting out in the fresh air is important for our wellbeing. Seeing the excitement in my son when we found a perfect bramble bush was part of the joy of the day.

…You may not get the same sense of wellbeing buying blackberries in a shop 😉

How do you eat yours?

Once we had picked a pot full of berries we then had to decide what to do with them. There are lots of ways we can enjoy these juicy berries. They can be enjoyed fresh or cooked. According to bbcgoodfood.com there is no specific evidence to say if they are better cooked or eaten fresh, but cooking does appear to reduce the antioxidant status. I decided on an apple and blackberry crumble, yum!

If you have been out foraging these tasty berries let me know what you decided to make in the comments below.

Blackberry crumble

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Pilates for beginners Pilates blog

Pilates exercises for Beginners

Pilates for beginners

Pilates offers a range of benefits – and with many levels available it is enjoyable for beginners to enthusiasts alike. Below we outline some of the most popular Pilates exercises for beginners, with their various levels.

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is a great way to improve your flexibility, muscle strength and posture. When beginning any new exercise it can be hard to know where to start! There are so many different Pilates exercises out there but it is always important to start with a level that suits you and get the basics right first. Many Pilates exercises offer ways to progress the exercises or modify them in ways to suit you which is one of the reasons Pilates can be accessible to everyone.

Pilates aims to help improve your core muscle strength. Engaging these muscles can be tricky to start with but always remember less is more! You only need to engage this muscles about twenty per cent of their maximum contraction to work the muscles effectively when doing these exercises.

An introduction to Pilates exercises for beginners

In the below videos we outline some of the most common ilates exercises and introduce the different levels available depending on experience and confidence of the participant.

One leg stretch

This exercise challenges the stability and core strength around the pelvis by adding alternating leg movements, closely related to walking.

Find out more details and instruction on how to do a one leg stretch exercise

Bridging exercise

This is a great exercise to strengthen your core and glute muscles. It also encourages movement of the spine.

Find out more detail and instruction on how to do a bridge exercise.

Scissors

This exercise challenges the control around your pelvis and hips with alternating leg movements. This exercise works your core muscles and your lower abdominal muscles.

Find our more detail and instruction on how to do a scissors exercise.

Clam

This exercise is performed lying in your side and is a nice way to begin strengthening your gluteal muscles. Specifically this exercise focuses on engaging and strengthening the gluteus medius muscle.

Find our more detail and instruction on how to do a clam exercise.

Cat stretch

If you feel stiff into your back and want to improve the flexibility in your spine, a cat stretch can be a great way to mobilise your spine into a flexed and extended position.

Find our more detail and instruction on how to do a cat stretch movement

Go to your level

Pilates offers multiple levels across its range of exercises. It is a good idea to build up strength and control over time. Go to always go to a level that suits you and most importantly enjoy the exercises you are doing.

Pilates for beginners

If you are new to Pilates and looking to experience a class that incorporates a range of exercises then try this Pilates class


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Joseph pilates Pilates blog

Who was Joseph Pilates?

Joseph Pilates on reformer. Image via Angela Routledge

If you enjoy Pilates, whether as a beginner or committed enthusiast, you may be interest to know it all started with one man – Joseph Pilates. So who was he? And why did he did he develop these exercises?

The founder of Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. As a child he suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. By all accounts he was quite sickly. Yet he was obsessed about growing into a fit young man. Some accounts suggest he was obsessed with ancient Greek ideals of physique.

Either way, Joseph was determined to improve his ailments and strengthen his body. To do this he practiced yoga and meditation. He studied physiology and anatomy and then began developing his own exercise regimes.

Joseph’s early exercises produced fantastic results. By the time he was 14 his body was so well-defined he was chosen as a model for anatomical drawings. In his later teens he also became an accomplished skier, diver and gymnast.

The war years

In 1912 Joseph moved to England where he worked as a boxer and circus performer. He was on the Isle of Man when World War One broke out.

Joseph was not allowed to return to Germany and was interned as a prisoner of war. During this period he worked as an orderly in a hospital. It was at this time Joseph began to develop his principles into a programme to support rehabilitation and recovery for patients in the hospital. It was soon noted that many of the patients who were doing Joseph’s exercises were improving faster.

At the time he described his programme of exercises as ‘Contrology.’

Contrology (Pilates) is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities

Joseph Pilates

The Pilates studio

After the war Joseph returned to Germany and continued to work and develop his exercise regime, particularly in the dancing world. His growing reputation let to him being asked to train the German army!

However, Joseph soon sought out new opportunities and moved to America.

Joseph and his wife opened ‘The Pilates Studio’ in New York and continued to teach their Pilates exercise method. He worked with clients from a range of specialsims, but continued to court special interest from the dancing world.

He worked with George Balanchine and Martha Graham who were both well known and influential at that time.

Joseph continued to develop his methods and was still incredible spritely past the age of 80.

Joseph past away in 1967. By which time the Pilates method gained a modicum of popularity, but nothing compared to its current day level where it is studied and practiced by millions. No doubt he would be proud of how large a legacy he left us.

Joseph Pilates at 57 and 82 years of age. Photo via azulfit.com

Ongoing development

Although Joseph’s original exercises have been adapted, modified and developed since his original teachings the essence of core control and rehabilitation through movement remains at the heart of Pilates as an exercise method.

Today Joseph’s Pilates legacy continues to grow and evolve benefiting millions of people around the world.


Why not try a Pilates class yourself? Explore our many free online Pilates classes.


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Pilates vs yoga Pilates blog

The difference between Pilates and Yoga

Pilates vs yoga
The difference between Pilates and Yoga

People often ask: What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

Yoga and Pilates have similarities at their core (pardon the pun!) in that they are both low impact and inclusive forms of exercise but their approaches are quite different. In short yoga focuses more on flexibility and strength of the whole body whereas Pilates is more about strength and control of movement, again of the whole body but with a particular focus on deep abdominal core muscles/pelvic floor muscles.

Spiritual elements

Yoga was originally practiced by holy ascetics in India, 500 plus years ago, and has a large spiritual element to it. The original teachings of yoga aimed to focus the mind and connect with a higher consciousness.

Although Pilates does not include or follow the same spiritual rituals its founder Joseph Pilates was inspired to bring together the mind and body to control and rehabilitate movement patterns. “Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit” (Joseph Pilates).

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates moved to England from Germany in 1912 working as a circus performer and trainer in self-defence. When WWI broke out in 1914 he was interned as an orderly in a POW hospital on the Isle of Man. Whilst he was there he was shocked to see so many unwell patients were lying in bed not doing any exercises. Therefore he devised a gentle exercise regime for these patients, progressing onto resistance exercises using springs from old hospital beds. It soon became evident that the patients practising Joseph’s exercise regime were improving faster. After the war Joseph returned to Germany and began to develop his exercise regimes further within the dance world.

Read more about Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates

His reputation grew and he was asked to train the German army but it was at this point Joseph decided to head to America where he open ‘The Pilates Studio’ in New York. From there he continued to develop his Pilates method. Today this legacy continues and Pilates has continued to evolve and benefit thousands of people around the world.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation has always been at the root of Pilates principles and method which is perhaps why as a Physiotherapist I am more drawn to Pilates practice. I have often used Pilates teaching and exercises to help rehabilitate clients with musculoskeletal conditions.

Although the roots of both Pilates and yoga come from very different backgrounds they have both developed and evolved from their origins. There are now many different teachings of both yoga and Pilates. This is not just in style of teaching methods but with the use of additional equipment, such as reformer bed to provide resistance and HIT Pilates method involving a more cardiovascular workout. Yoga in contrast has a number of variations to it’s original method including Asthanga, iyengar and vinyasa. The more dynamic forms of both yoga and Pilates are not suitable for beginners as there is more potential for injury if you are not used to the movements.

Positive influence of Pilates and Yoga

With all these different variations with both forms of exercise it can be difficult to know which one to follow. Personally, I think it comes down to what you enjoy the most and what is most suitable to your physical ability and needs.

Many forms of physical exercise have been shown to improve mental and emotional well-being. Therefore both Pilates and yoga in all their forms can have a positive influence on our mind and body’s health and well being.

Explore our online Pilates classes


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