How to make a new exercise habit with Pilates

Pilates Lennox Head

Written by Bridgid Pearse

January 19, 2021

Trying to make a new exercise habit now it’s the New Year? It’s a great time to set a new routine and prioritise your health. If you haven’t found exercise that really works for you this can be really difficult. About this time every year I used to sign up for the gym or a bootcamp and brace myself to get fit. I felt lethargic, I didn’t move enough everyday and I thought I needed some high intensity exercise to get strong. I would turn up and do a few work outs, I go very red in the face when I do cardio, so I got very red and hot. I’d do exercises that didn’t feel good just to keep up and afterwards I felt like a wobbly lump of jelly with very little inner connection or control.

After these workouts I would often be very sore for days. Sometimes I couldn’t sit down for the best part of a week. After I had my child I felt like my inside would get all moved around and not in a good way. Then I would have to rely heavily on my willpower to keep turning up. And there were days that it felt better for my body not to turn up and then I would find it very hard to make it a habit. This made me feel frustrated and down on myself and less confident about exercise in general. As a person who loved dancing when I was younger I knew this wasn’t right.

Then I discovered Pilates with a great teacher who wasn’t afraid to take things slowly. I tried Pilates in dance college but didn’t feel the need or have the patience for it at time. When I was ready for it, I knew I needed help to get strong. I had finally given up on the bootcamp vicious cycle and I was ready to BE in my body.

Make a new exercise habit

Healthy habits are how we live healthy lives. When beginning a new habit here are some tips:

  1. Start small. Don’t aim for an hour hard cardio class when you haven’t worked out for 6 months. Find a mindful Pilates class that will challenge you where you need it. ( More about Pilates later).
  2. Find an accountability partner. Either book into a class or find a friend who will meet you to exercise. The power of having someone who is expecting you to show up is very helpful when you are trying to start a new exercise habit.
  3. Connect this activity with something you already do daily. It may be when your feet touch the ground in the morning or when you get home from work in the evening. Choose your time and get organised for it.
  4. Use a prompt. Place a prompt in the location where you will be when it is time to exercise. Put your walking shoes or your movement clothes next to the bed or next to where you put your work bag down so these remind you of your habit and then get ready.
  5. Once you have done the exercise, note how you feel in your body. Do you feel like you have been challenged enough but not so much that you have lingering pain or discomfort. Recognise yourself for showing up and doing the thing! This part is important, give yourself a smile or do a happy dance so your brain knows you have done good. Our brains love that recognition and over time your brain will begin to associate exercise with feeling good.

Why Pilates? And what type of Pilates?

Pilates is so great for beginning a new exercise habit! And yes there are different types of Pilates. Although rather than being fussy about different styles, what is more important is how it is taught. Is it a packed class in a gym that is really a bootcamp or circuit workout (circling through a range of exercises sometimes using props or machines) with a few Pilates movements thrown in. Or is it in a space that encourages you to relax, connect with your body and learn techniques to deepen the work in each exercise. The latter is a great practice for helping you to develop a new exercise habit.

Pilates that helps you connect with your body will get you strong, because that’s what Pilates exercises do. It will also develop your body awareness (sensing more of what is happening), your proprioception (knowing where you are in space) and improve your balance. I look carefully at students in my classes to observe exactly what challenge they need and I give option for students to try. This helps you learn what the right challenge is for you.

Learning the right challenge for you is so important because this is the key to your progress. When you can feel your comfort zone and what is just beyond that without overloading yourself you build strength quickly. You can challenge yourself safely and once you have learned that connection with your body you can always have it (as long as you use it!).

Where to start?

Book into a Move to Nurture Pilates class in the Ballina / Byron area or online via zoom.Follow the tips above for starting a new habit and click below to receive your free guide to Pilates at home right now!

Pilates Goonellabah

Thanks for reading!

I am Brigid Pearse, comprehensively certified Pilates teacher, ex-dancer, and mid-life mum. In group classes, workshops and private sessions I help women learn to move well for life.

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