I’m going to bust a Pilates myth right off the bat: Pilates isn’t the only exercise I do. That’s right. Teaching Pilates is my job, and Pilates still is my favorite workout. But I also hike, bike, paddle board, do TRX and more. While my other activities get me out in nature and give me a great cardiovascular workout, I know my Pilates practice informs those movements to help keep me strong and injury-free. I’m embracing what I call “Pilates AND” -- Pilates and other sports -- and I’m here to invite you to do the same.
We got a Peloton a couple of months ago, so lately biking has been my “AND.” Two things happen every time I’m on the bike: First, I think about all the ways my Pilates practice is helping my ride, and second, I hear the Peloton instructors say things that are very similar to things I say to my own Pilates clients.
One of the benefits of a regular Pilates practice is increased body awareness – really being able to feel how your body is working together and knowing if something is “off.” Oftentimes when I ride, my dominant leg wants to take over on the downward pedal stroke, leaving my other side to do more of the upstroke. In my body, that feels like overworking the quadriceps on my dominant leg, while the hamstrings on my other leg do more of the work. Over time, that could lead to a muscle imbalance and possible pelvic rotation. So I use my body awareness to check in on my pedal stroke and work to make it as smooth and even as possible.
During one of my very first Peloton classes, the instructor told us something like, “Send energy out the crown of your head,” as a way to help keep us from rounding our spines and collapsing. “What?” I thought, “That’s Pilates.” That’s what I say to my clients to help them engage the spinal extensor muscles in their upper backs. Another Peloton instructor tells riders to imagine where their belt buckle would be and pull it back to help engage the core. In class after class, Peloton instructors offer tips on form that sound like my own words to my Pilates clients. It just confirms to me that we’re all working toward the same goals. All forms of exercise work together to create strong, healthy bodies.
Which brings me back to Pilates AND. Two months in to my Peloton experience, I feel in my own body how Pilates AND biking work together. My ride gives me a great cardio workout (and some serious sweat sessions), and Pilates keeps me riding in a more balanced and efficient way, without back pain. In the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing a series of articles here about Pilates and biking, with exercises I use to stay strong during my rides. If you’re a biker, I hope you’ll stay tuned to experience Pilates AND for yourself. And if you’re ready to try a personalized Pilates workout to jumpstart your Pilates AND experience, I’d love to hear from you.