One of my biggest challenges as a Pilates Instructor is getting clients to slow down! You might think it would be communicating the exercises, modifying for individual needs, programming the class, etc. – but all of those I can master. What I can’t always do is convince a student they will be working harder while getting stronger by going slower. (And they really will if they’d listen and try it!)
I get it – it’s counter-intuitive. How often do we hear run faster, move quicker, pick up the pace, and so on as we are growing up? It’s ingrained in our minds that faster is better. There is also a thought process that more is better. Put those two together and one could reason – if I move faster I can do more movements in the same amount of time. Yes – that is true but that is also not Pilates! Pilates is controlled. Pilates is less is more! Joseph Pilates preached 6 or 10 good movements far outweighed 20 quick, sloppy ones!
With speed comes momentum. In my opinion, momentum is the kryptonite of Pilates. Let’s think about that for a minute… If I gave you a two-pound weight and asked you to move your arm up and down holding the weight in your hand, you could swing your arm many times before you reached fatigue. The swinging motion is the momentum helping you do the work. Let’s take the same exercise but this time I am going to count to 10 as you lift your arm up and then again as you lower it down. No momentum at work here.
(I recommend you try this right now – if you don’t have a weight pick up a bottle of water or something smaller to use in its place.)
How did those two similar exercises feel? How many times do you think you could do the controlled lift and lower of your arm before fatigue? Which version got your arm shaking? That is why I ask you to slow down. That is why I say momentum is the kryptonite to a good Pilates workout.
Pay attention in your next class and I bet you will notice the smaller the movement – the bigger the burn! Why? No momentum!
I recently had an advanced student tag along in an Initial Private session for a first-time student who was a friend of hers. We were slow, controlled and particular about each movement. We did not do as many movements in class as we could for a more advanced student. The number of exercises we covered was fewer. At the end of that class, however, my advanced student exclaimed, “Wow, I really felt the work slowing down like this – I need to remember that!” Those are the kind of comments that warm your Pilates teacher’s heart
And if you still don’t believe me – humor me one class and try it my slow, boring way :)