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Pilates Users - Does it Really Work?

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Old 06-27-2002, 02:44 PM   #1
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Question Pilates Users - Does it Really Work?

Hi everyone! I've heard a lot a Pilates lately - even seen infomercials on it - and have been wondering if it really works as well as is claimed. It looks interesting but unfortunately is not taught in healthclubs in my area. If anyone has tapes and uses them and they actually work, I'd love to hear some feedback.

One other thing too, I'm looking for good upper body (specifically arms) videos that I can do at home. Right now I have an upper body Kathy Smith video with weights and some tae bo tapes that semi-focus on the arms. Again, any tips or feedback would be great.

Thanks in advance,
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Old 06-27-2002, 03:50 PM   #2
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I practice Pilates 2 times per week. I does not burn many calories but boy does it tone - especially the abs. I started seeing results after 6 classes. My healthclub does offer it but you can do it just as easy with tapes. I use the STOTT Pilates series and they are very good. I got mine at Borders Book store. there is also a book called "The Pilates Method" which I recommend by Brooke somebody or another. (not a big help on that I know!)

Pilates is very much a fusion on yoga and calisthetics. The key is to hold your tummy muscles in tight while doing the movements.

Good luck - hope you love it as much as I do!
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Old 06-28-2002, 12:21 AM   #3
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You might want to check out Shape Magazine for the arms exercises. They do a nice focus of exercises for different body parts each issue. Might take a trip to the library to see if they have back issues and while you're there - check out the video collection. Might have some exercise videos you can sample to find one you like.

I started Pilates with a Denise Austin Video - Mat Workout based on the works of JH Pilates. I usually find Denise too perky for me, but this is a good beginner's video. It's not a high intensity workout but since it works the deep muscles in the abs and legs, after you're done, you feel it. This is one type of exercise where form is critical, critical. Pay attention, go slow and do it properly.

My health club didn't offer it either and a bunch of us ganged up on the club director and told her we wanted to see this offered. They brought in an instructor from the outside and we had to pay for the class but it was worth it. Any trainer worth their salt should be Pilates certified - beware of those who take a weekend training camp and then think they can teach it. You also might want to check out other health clubs or the YWCA. Many places will let you come in as a non member and pay per class. The instructor we got was actually teaching Pilates at a local junior college in the Phys Ed dept.

I was pretty impressed with it. Even after 3 weeks of doing it 3 times a week for 30 minutes, I saw results. You stand taller, hold your abs in and it improves strength and tone. It's a nice balance to a cardio and strength training program.
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Old 06-28-2002, 11:43 AM   #4
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Wow - thanks for the replies ladies!

The infomercial that I saw was for Winsor Pilates and it was endorsed by multiple celebrities. Normally, I'm not taken in by infomercials and especially not ones endorsed by celebs but for some reason this one reeled me in. I guess just because the exercizes themselves looked challenging and like they would actually work. I checked out the website and decided to give them a try. I'll get 3 different videos as well as a 10 day recommended meal plan. It cost $40 and I figured this was comparable to what I could buy in a store. So, I should get them in a couple weeks and then I can get started.

I am curious though, does it matter how overweight you are before you start to see results? I have about 40# to lose and more than lose the weight, I want to lose the inches. The worst part is that I'm hourglass shaped and have flab throughout - particularly at my lower abs. I don't mind doing the work, but I want to see and feel results relatively quickly. Will this program work for me?

Thanks again for the info, take care, and good luck with your personal challenges!
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Old 06-28-2002, 10:10 PM   #5
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Hi Sassypie,

Here's my 2 cents worth on your questions and a few tips that you didn't ask for but I hope you might find useful.

You asked if you have to be in good shape for Pilates. I was 70 pounds overweight with body fat all over when I started it. It's a strength exercise. Like any, you start out huffing and puffing and groaning. Over time, it gets better as you get stronger. However, as always, if you have medical conditions - your should consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

Maybe I'm reading too much into your posts, but I get the feeling you might be looking for a quick fix. Pilates alone won't do it. As I said before, you need a solid nutrition plan (eating the right foods in the right portions), an exercise program that balances cardio fat burning like swimming, running, walking, etc 3 times a week for about an hour ALONG with twice a week strength training working the major muscle groups - shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, abs and legs - a solid routine can be done in 30 minutes. This advice is both from practical experience and the advice of a personal trainer that I've been working with. It does take time but you will see results and build habits that will ensure long term success. Pilates fits in more on the strength side tho it mostly focuses on abs and the lower body. It should be part of your plan, not all of it, ok?

My last piece of advice has to do with eating before a workout. I always HATED eating before exercising - mostly because I was eating the wrong stuff and it made me feel sluggish and tired. The program I'm on now DEMANDS that I eat no more than an hour before I work out. I eat 2oz of protein (chicken, fish, turkey or egg whites - hard boil the eggs, eat the white and toss the yolk). 2 oz of protein is about 1/2 the size of your palm without counting your fingers if you're medium boned. Or about the size of your index and middle finger put together. I also eat 1 cup of a COMPLEX carb - med potato, rice or oatmeal - no butter of course - sweet potatoes are especially good carbs but no butter or brown sugar on it!. Pasta and bread are SIMPLE carbs and don't count as this carb requirement. Finish that off with 1/2 cup of fruit - stay away from cherries, watermelon, grapes - a 1/2 medium banana is best or eat a small plum, peach, nectarine, kiwi or 1/2 cup berries - strawberry, blueberry, raspberrie. The reason for this combo is - the protein feeds the muscles you are going to be working on, the carb and natural fruit sugar supply energy to your body to fuel your workout and give you endurance and stamina. Just remember - no fats, no white or refined sugar. It has to be natural foods. I didn't believe it until I tried it myself. I used to get pooped out midway through my work out and blamed it on being out of shape. What a difference eating this small meal made! I was able to go longer and felt stronger. And water, water, water. You can't get enough of it.

Beware of commercial protein bars, "diet" frozen meals and some "sports drinks". Many of them, while low fat contain alot of chemicals, high sodium and refined sugars. Not what you need! I keep reminding myself of the car analogy. If you put bad gas in your car the engine runs rough, the car stalls and the engine knocks. The same is true of your body. Just as you'd "gas up" before a road trip, make sure you fuel your body right. Don't worry too much about the calories you're consuming for the pre work out meal - keep it low fat, low sodium and remember that you are going to be burning calories for your workout. These are the kind that will be converted to energy. Skip the meal and go on an empty stomach and your body will use the muscle you already have to "feed" itself for the workout - sort of self defeating, don't you think?

Best of luck with your program. Hope you find success in meeting your goals!
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Old 06-29-2002, 11:59 AM   #6
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Hi Happy2bme!

Thanks for the advice and the car analogy especially. I guess I had never thought much about eating *before* a workout because I always thought I'd feel full and have a harder time moving around. Thinking of my body as a car though makes a lot of sense.

As far as looking for a quick fix (wouldn't it be nice if one really existed? - sigh) I know that it's not an option. I have come to terms with the fact that for me, diets don't work; and to be honest, I hate dieting and know it's not really worth the sacrifice and emotion that come with them. So I have promised myself that I will exercize and try to *take care* of my body rather than harm it. My biggest problem: I am a really picky eater and don't like to eat many of the foods that are good for me. Plus, I'm a complete and hopeless chocoholic - especially when TOM comes for his monthly visit! So, unfortunately, my eating habits always come into play.

Believe me, if I liked the goods foods and ate them regularly and exercized the way I am now, I'd have no problem losing the weight and keeping it off. It is frustrating knowing this, but I don't know how to *make* myself eat and like certain things when I just don't.

I am really curious though, you mentioned that watermelon, cherries and grapes shouldn't be used as the 1/2 cup portion of fruit and I'm curious why not? I absolutely love grapes and they keep me hydrated and are a source of fiber too (or so I've always thought). Is it just because they are simple sugars or is there another reason? Also, if working out in the am, what else can be used as a complex carb besides oatmeal? As much as I love it, eating it plain everyday doesn't sound like the best cup of tea - lol.

Thanks for all your help and advice - it's nice to have someone acknowledge and relate to what you're talking about.
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Old 06-29-2002, 05:04 PM   #7
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Hey there Sassypie,

You can eat grapes and watermelon and cherries - it's just that they are high in sugar and you should consider them like treat or snack foods and eat them in moderation. Look at the more low sugar fruits when you're eating for your workout.

As for complex carbs - that's probably the biggest restraint in my diet plan. Rice, potatoes (red, white or yams) and oatmeal are my choices right now. Gets kinda boring. If you work out in the morning you could have an egg white omlet for protein and "healthy" hash browns as your carb. However, I get up bleary eyed at 5am to go to a 6am water aerobics class. No way can I eat chicken or rice or potatoes at that hour of the morning so I find oatmeal or whole grain cooked cereal to work best. I usually have it with blueberries or a banana but you can also add unsweetened applesauce and a bit of cinamon for variety. Shredded wheat might be ok too but watch the sodium, fat and sugar in the cold cereals.

I wish I had been raised to think of eating as a means of giving my body fuel instead of using it as a reward and comfort mechanism. After all, I don't wash my hands because it's fun to play with soap - I wash them because they are dirty. I should eat to give my body nutrients but instead I was eating to make myself happy - whether I was hungry or not. Look at it this way, you have children. When they were infants would you have put a McDonald's shake in their bottle because it had to taste better than infant formula? Of course not! Maybe your kids are picky eaters now and they would be quite happy to live on a diet of chicken nuggets, hot dogs and kool aid. Would you let them eat like that or are you trying to push (maybe not always successfully) more nutricious things down their tummies because you want them to be strong and healthy and feed their growing bodies. Probably. So why is it that you care more about taking care of them than you do yourself? Just because you are a grown up is no excuse. In fact, you should know better - LOL.

So you are a picky eater. That's ok. But life is full of choices. I'm not crazy about doing laundry. I can skip doing laundry and eventually I'll wind up being either real stinky or I'll have to walk around naked all the time. So, I do laundry because I HAVE to do it. I'm applying the same philosophy to eating. You can continue on the path you are on and keep eating the way that you do ("I don't like alot of things that are good for me") and then you can watch a 40 lb gain go up to 50, 60, 100 lbs. Or you can resign yourself that sometimes you are going to have to eat things you'd rather not just because it's the right thing to do. And you can live with a diet and still be a picky eater. Just accept the fact that you will have to work much harder to find healthier ways to prepare the foods you do like to eat. The less foods you like, the more you set yourself up for failure by becoming bored after a while. I'm not a big turkey fan but I do like it with cranberry sauce. Maybe you can expand your eating plan to incorporate a food you aren't crazy about with other foods in the meal that you do like. Look at it this way too - it's HARD to overeat when it's something you don't like that much!

In reality, you really don't have to permanently do away with any food. The problem is that we don't have balance. We don't eat the stuff we should and we eat the stuff we should moderate way too often and in too big of a portion. Either find healthier ways to enjoy "bad" foods or eat them less often and you won't have to do without anything.

As for chocolate... sigh. I once too was a chocoholic. Had to give it up a few years back. After you get over 40 you get what they call adult onset acne. These ugly suckers are big and massive and they hang around your face for months. One day I looked in the mirror and counted 22 pimples on my face after a big time chocolate binge. I thought it was a cruel joke of nature that I should be 45, post menopausal and have to deal with teenage pimples! So I had to say goodbye to my friend. I also found that chocolate was a trigger food - the more I ate, the more I wanted. Don't get me wrong - I didn't give it up completely. Chocolate chip cookies (especially homemade) and M&Ms are the devil in my life. I can't resist them but limit them to only once every month or two. The 3FC website has a whole section devoted to Chocoholics Revenge. Check it out - you might find some ways to enjoy your chocolate in a more healthy manner.

And finally, you're quite welcome for the advice. That's what this forum is all about - a bunch of great people who have come together to share advice and support one another through the rough road of life. Welcome and don't be shy about sharing your thoughts...
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Old 07-01-2002, 08:20 PM   #8
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Ok, ok ok...I know, I know, I need to make better food choices - it's just really hard to do. I know that's just an excuse too - I wouldn't settle for that answer if it was coming from Jill Schmill - so I don't expect you to take it from me. I just wish I didn't want the bad foods *so badly* sometimes. Making the choice to not eat chocolate is always quite a challenge! I can always persuade myself and rationalize why I should get to have it. But I think the key is instead of allowing myself a treat once (or more depending on the week) per week, I'll try to stretch that time out to once every 2 weeks and then keep stretching from there. This gives me something to look forward to. I'll keep trying and you keep giving me a swift kick every time I start making excuses - lol!

I have to say though that I am SO excited to get the pilates tapes! I can't wait to try them out and see if they're anything like the other work out vids I have. If nothing else, it gives me a few more tapes to rotate in and (hopefully) not get bored so quickly. I'll keep checking back and let you know when I get them and what I think once I've tried them out. Good luck with your program and talk to you soon
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Old 07-01-2002, 11:39 PM   #9
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Well, you are human and so am I. After all that advice to you, what did I do today but go on a sugar binge. I haven't had any real sugar of any sort outside of fruit for the last 2 weeks. It started with 3 teeny tiny bite size Snickers (see I like chocolate too). My husband has a candy dish at work and asked me to pick up some candy. Even tho I put it right by the door where he'd have to fall over it, he didn't take it with him. I popped the 3 suckers in the freezer and umm were they good later. Much better than oatmeal! After that I had a can of Coca Cola - also my first in 2 weeks and I was a Coke freak. I finished off the evening with the last Klondike ice cream sandwich even tho I kept telling myself I should be crunchin' instead of munchin'. It's amazing how that sugar just feeds itself - the more you have, the more you want.

So, the moral of this story is... if you have chocolate each day, maybe you want to gradually wean yourself to every other day, then every third day, etc. Trying to stay away for a week just might send you on a bender too!

Keep in touch, am curious as to what you think of the Pilates.
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Old 07-02-2002, 08:42 PM   #10
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Hi Happy

Good point about stretching out treats too long during the start-up. I probably wouldn't be able to make myself do it anyway. As a matter of fact, I know there are 2 boxes of wanut fudge brownie mixes in the cupboard right now and the only thing from stopping me from making and eating them is that I'm lazy. Tell me *that's* not pathetic - jeez, the week before TOM kills me every time. I buy them during a weak moment and then they just sit there cause I know I shouldn't have them plus I'm too lazy to crack an egg and mix it up. What to do? I don't know if my laziness in this instance is good or bad

As far as your "binge", it sounds like you've done very well up to this point and shouldn't beat yourself up just cause you've had a small set-back. And don't feel like you have no room to give me advice because you do and I look forward to hearing it It's one day at a time and that's all you can do. Now you just pick up and move on to tomorrow.

Interestingly enough, even though I eat terribly and "treat" myself all the time, the exercize is really paying off. When I look at myself, I don't look as good as I would like but I definitely look better than I did. Even my dh tells me I feel tighter and more firm. As a matter of fact, he even told me I had a rip in my stomach - I about fell over cause he was right! My point is that as long as you stick to your program *for the most part* you can have results. It may take a little longer to get there and once you're there you may have to work a little harder to stay, but it can be done.

Don't sweat the sweet treats - just get back up and get moving! Talk to you later.
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Old 07-05-2002, 02:04 AM   #11
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Hi Sassypie,

Had to laugh at your post - sometimes procrastination IS a good thing. You are absolutely right about not beating yourself up. I learned a lesson from my sugar binge that will help me avoid future mistakes and that's what's important. (I have the same box of walnut fudge brownies in the cabinet. It's just too hot to heat the oven right now).

I bought my husband Krave Bars - I think they are new from Kellogg's - in the cereal bar section of the grocery and tried one myself when I was in need of a chocolate fix. They are pretty good and not nearly as sinful as chocolate candy bars. They are my friend when I will kill for chocolate and best of all, I'm satisfied with just one which I cannot say about regular chocolate candy.

You obviously must be more sensible in your treats to see such good results - congrats on finding a rip in your stomach - what a cool feeling! And again, you are right - you need to stick to your program AND focus on exercising regularly in order to really see results. I fell off the wagon for a day but hopped back on with more determination than ever.

Am working with a personal trainer now at the health club and I love it. Started going to hour sessions this week (was doing 30 minutes before) and I can't wait to see what I'll be like by the end of the month. I feel tighter already and I know there's muscle building under the flab.
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Old 07-06-2002, 12:35 PM   #12
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Hey there Happy!

I am soooo excited! I just got the tapes yesterday and watched them all (about 2 hrs). I wasn't feeling well yesterday so I just concentrated on the form and think I have a pretty good grasp on what I will need to do. It was interesting because I had no idea what to expect. The mood was real mello and the music that they chose was really calm. The instructor talks you through the entire time which is actually nice because she makes you re-think your form and focus on the muscles that you're working. I think it'll be a nice change from all the fast-paced workouts I currently have.

Those Krave bars sound great! I've never heard of them so I'll have to check them out next time I'm in the store. As for the treats that I eat - I eat it all! I absolutely love "turtles" or anything like them. My last weakness was Milky Ways and Heath bars; and it takes a lot for me not to eat the entire bag of peanut m&m's! But luckily (I guess) I only get the craving once/month and then it *usually* subsides.

I am a wee but jealous about your personal trainer. I live in a rural community (only 1000 ppl) and there's nothing around here like that. The closest thing is about 30 min away and they don't have any place for the kids to go. So, I'd have to find care 6 days a week, plus make the trek out there and back each time. That's just too much work and planning for me! It's easier for me to just work out at home and let the kids play or work out with me if they want. I guess you just have to do what works. Congrats though - I'm sure you'll get great results with him/her and your confidence will soar!

I'm gonna try the vids today and use them a couple times this week. Then I'll start rotating them in with my others so I have a system that works everything fairly equally. I'll check back in to let you know how it works. Take care .
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Old 07-07-2002, 03:57 PM   #13
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Hi Sassy!

I was surprised too at how quiet and calming the Pilates routine is. Both the Yoga and Pilates instructors at the gym said that people who are high energy types have a tough time accepting these as legit forms of exercise.

Do not be fooled by the mellowness... it's a tough workout! My husband said he never heard so much groaning out of me. But the quiet tone reinforces you to think about form as you have found. It's really, really critical that you do these correctly. I was also amazed that you can see results in as little as 3 weeks.

Glad your impressed! Hope you like it enough to stick with it, especially if you have to be trainer and student alike!

Now... I have to go dust off my tapes. Talking about this has motivated me to get back with the program myself.

Talk to you soon...
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Old 07-09-2002, 01:28 AM   #14
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Hi Sassypie,
Just wanted to say THANKS for starting this thread. I was thinking about getting back into this again and with all the talking we were doing, I dusted off the old tape and started back up again today.

Ooof-duh! So much puffing during such a quiet routine but I'm glad I did it and I know it gets better over time.

You're an inspiration!
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:47 AM   #15
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Hi Happy!

It has been my pleasure to start this thread! Actually, if it weren't for you, this *thread* never would have made it very far! I'm glad that it has inspired you to get out the ol' tapes and get going again. As for me just starting out, I can definitely say that although it looks calm, easy and relaxing, it packs a huge punch in the abs!

I have noticed that I have what the instructor refers to as a "delicate neck". This means that when I have to hold my head up for an extended period of time, it feels strained. She suggests using a pillow but somehow, I just don't think I'll get the same effect. I am using my abs as much as I can to hold myself up there but it still feels the same. I've noticed this same neck strain in other ab workouts that I've done in the past and currently so I hope it won't hinder my progress too much with Pilates. Any suggestions?

My dh is on vacation this week so I'm not sure how much time I'll actually get to exercize as we have many many "projects" to attack. I could probably consider many of them as workouts - cleaning out the garage, basement, carpets, etc. - lol! So I'll try to post some; but more than likely I'll start up again next week. Hard to say I can make time to post but not to exercize, wouldn't you agree?

Take care, put some oil on those squeeky videos and have fun!
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