by Devra Swiger
A client of mine who in her early 60s told me that on an international flight she had to use the restroom. The man next to her appeared to be sound asleep so she carefully lifted her 5’9 frame and climbed over him. He opened his eyes and said ‘Gee, how old are you anyway?” She replied “Ageless. I do Pilates.”
Everyone everywhere is talking about how to fight the aging process. You can’t read a magazine, attend a party or scroll through an on-line publication without seeing or hearing something about fighting the aging process. We all know about Botox, fillers and magical weight loss supplements. We also know that good skincare and a healthy diet can help fight aging and make us look and feel younger. However, does anyone realize that Pilates also fights the aging process and doesn’t require needles or expensive creams?
If you think about what makes a person look older you first think about is wrinkles, saggy skin and gray hair. Yet poor posture also makes people look older. The pain and discomfort caused by poor posture is a factor in making people appear older. Look around you and see how being stooped and rounded detracts from one’s appearance. A 70 year old who stands tall and erect with a graceful gait, can look as much as 15 years younger.
After studying twins, researchers discovered that those who exercised regularly aged better than their biological twin. This shows that there is more to a healthy and fit body than just DNA. Pilates may be one of the best anti-aging exercise programs because it addresses so many aspects of fitness.
Note from PB: The research about the effects of Pilates on posture is still limited but several studies have found Pilates to be effective for correcting hyperkyphosis in both young and older adults. Most of the studies are limited to only 8-12 weeks and this time is not even nearly enough to see posture improvements in Pilates students. Consistency is the most important ingredient in the Pilates anti-aging cocktail.
To address an anti-aging program to the Pilates repertoire, it is crucial to focus on increased muscle strength, flexibility training, postural exercises and balance. Here are a few exercises in each category that I do with my clients to keep them looking young and healthy. Of course not every client can do every exercise listed nor is every exercise listed, but find what works best give your client’s health and background. Make sure to address at least one exercise from each category.
Pilates Exercises for the Anti-Aging Pilates Program
Muscle Strength: On the reformer or Cadillac Table arm work with relatively heavy resistance for arm arcs, arm circles, triceps and rowing. Pulling straps 1 and 2 for arms and back and chest presses on the long box.
Flexibility: Short and long Spine, all splits, feet in straps. Ballet Stretches on Cadillac. Elephant.
Posture: Rowing, Pulling Straps, Footwork on Wunda Chair.
Balance: Splits hands free, standing Wunda Chair work.
Standing tall, strong and lean arms and legs, flat belly and graceful controlled movements together make for a youthful appearance. Pilates may just be the best movement program available to take years off your appearance. As my client said, ‘doing Pilates makes you feel ageless.’
About the Author: Devra Swiger is a Polestar certified Pilates instructor, ACE Orthopedic Fitness specialist and ACE certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor. She has studied with Colleen Glen, Jennifer Kries and many other top-tier instructors. She owns Ab-Solutely Pilates in Huntington Beach, CA. In addition to Pilates, Devra loves hiking, yoga, learning foreign languages and painting. She can be reached at WWW.Ab-Pilates.com.