One of the big changes for me now I’m a student, is the lack of deliberate spaces and times in the day for exercise. I no longer have the benefit of exercise being considered a productive part of my day, and no one demanding I participate. I guess that’s not so different, coming from the Army or from High School – both institutions value fitness and make time for it; once you’re outside those organisations, it becomes entirely a matter for the individual.
Not only that, but College can be pretty bad for you anyway. Working, hunched over in Coffee shops, or lounge spaces with others, even in the library you don’t always get to sit in the best spaces, or the best ways. You may not feel it in your very early twenties, but I can promise you it is startling how soon back pain can inject itself into your life! Sitting badly at a computer for extended periods is a well known evil, but like most things that are bad for us, yet not immediately painful or unpleasant, we just do it anyway. By the time you feel the pain, it’s already getting pretty far along. Even if you do abide by good posture, even take breaks every hour and follow all the good advice that’s out there, it’s still not a natural thing to be sitting at desks, working on computers, the way we all do.
As someone who is always interested in new forms of exercise I was pretty keen to give Pilates a go. Sure, it’s not exactly what you think of when you think of military style fitness, but I’ve seen some pretty tough guys almost break down in a hard aerobics class, and the purely fittest people I’ve met have sworn by spinning and other less than macho forms of exercise, so I always keep an open mind; if it’s tough for you to do, it’s good exercise.
Power Pilates may have the ring of Hollywood fad to it, but the form has been around a long while, and you only have to consider the physiques of most Hollywood stars to realize there may yet be something in it. For me, the real benefits lie in the combination of stretching with resistance that really pushes your muscles to their limits, whilst keeping everything in a natural range of motion. This means that whilst you might get pretty exhausted, you should never be straining yourself, or doing damage. It also means that it works really well in strengthening those muscles that are hard to reach independently, like the ones holding your spine in place! Getting at these stabilizers is always valuable, and any exercise that can effectively target them is going to be more valuable than you realize.
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