I think that there are 2 kinds of people in the world – those who don’t mind smashing burpees and those who treat them as a necessary evil but can’t stand them. I’m definitely the latter. I’ve done my fair share of them over the years – I got into CrossFit for a while, and I recently followed Kayla’s BBG workout for a good 12 weeks – so HIIT is no stranger to me. But every time I switch back to practising Pilates regularly, I always wonder why I ever strayed away from it.
I started attending reformer Pilates sessions at B+B Studio in 2007 and fell in love with it. After a few months of twice-a-week sessions, I noticed my posture improve and I felt leaner and stronger. I eventually got so into it that I took a 2 week Mat Pilates instructor course in Singapore and even taught a few students when we were living there.
But because I wanted to try other forms of exercise (and because of all the fitspos I was following on IG tbh), I had a brief obsession with CrossFit but had to stop because my back started hurting (I was later diagnosed with mild scoliosis). I also did a bit of boxing, indoor cycling, ashtanga yoga and 3 solid months of BBG via the Sweat app.
Despite trying so many different things, I sooner or later inevitably find myself back in the arms (or cadillac?) of my first true fitness love – Pilates. Here are 5 reasons why I love it:
It helps with my lower back pain. Ever since I gave birth to my first child, lower back pain has been a part of life – especially right after childbirth when my core is at its weakest. I normally can't stand or walk for long periods of time without being in pain. But after a few months of strengthening my core through Pilates, I find that I'm usually back to normal.
I don’t feel like I’m dying when I’m doing the exercises. Granted that my heart isn’t working at its maximum capacity – which is vital in maintaining cardiovascular health – but I never get the “why am I doing this again?” moment on my 215,670th jump lunge. Instead, Pilates gives you an intense burn concentrated in small groups of muscles – without the feeling of your heart wanting to explode out of your chest.
Doing Pilates on the reformer is the best way to tone up, but since I don’t have my own reformer (yet!), I’m happy that I can still practice mat Pilates anywhere. As long as I have a mat (or a towel if I’m desperate), I can do it while travelling, while the baby is asleep (no jumping around, no noise), at home or outdoors. It's also easy to find a pilates or pilates-based workout studio anywhere you are in the world. I love going to Heartcore in London. When in Manila, I go to B+B Studio or Elev8 Lagree Fitness Studio.
It’s easy to scale up exercises to make them more challenging. Each exercise usually has 2-3 different modifications to either make them easier for beginners or more challenging for a more intense workout. There is also a variety of affordable, compact equipment that can be used to ramp up resistance. I personally have a Pilates resistance band, a set of loop bands, ankle weights and a Pilates circle. All of them are pretty easy to pack and travel with too.
Pilates has made me more aware of my breathing and my body. In particular, I’ve noticed that I consciously try to keep my back straight even when I’m not on my mat. I’ve also learned how to use my breath to make the most out of each exercise. Concentrating on my posture and breathing forces me to focus on what I’m doing at the moment and becomes a form of meditation. I can’t zone out and think about anything else other than my form for an hour.
Though I’m partial to Pilates, I still think the best workout regimen is one with variety. So I mix in some HIIT (when I work out with my husband), LISS and yoga now and then. I honestly think the secret to staying fit is all about finding what you love doing and being consistent. My consistency is definitely still a work in progress, but at least I know that I can always enjoy a 20 minute Pilates routine (I love Melissa Wood’s videos) without having to dread burpees and dragging my feet to the gym.
Waking up at 5am to get a workout in may sound torturous to some but I’ve managed to find a workout I look forward waking up doing every morning, and I can’t be happier about it!
What’s your favourite workout?