Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Pilates is how I became 14 years “younger”. Hi! I'm Lauren, the founder of FORFITSAKE.
This article is a memoir of how it changed my body - and why every woman and man - should be doing it at least twice a week (in my humble opinion). I believe it’s a non-negotiable in preventive health and vitality.
My journey to becoming a Pilates convert
I have always been wildly active, whether it was basketball, track, golf, or a rowing stint in college. I needed sport to keep my mind clear. But after I moved to Europe, I found myself fabulously active but not really engaging in community sports or anything remotely resembling it.
Then I had two kids pretty much back to back and they broke my back ... literally. I had terrible muscle spasms and my core muscles were extremely weak. Worst of all, I had lost the time I used to make for myself. Clearing my mind no longer held priority.
Fast forward a couple of years, I decided I needed to make some changes in my life. I felt haggard and like I was running in so many directions. I was thin, but definitely not strong. I went to a holistic health clinic where I was told that I had a metabolic age of 31 and at the time I was 32. These findings inspired me to find a new routine - ASAP!
Shortly after this experience, I had the opportunity to complete 10 private Pilates sessions along with with a friend who had just become a Pilates instructor. At the time, I questioned, “Why do I need this? I am plenty active and I know how to train myself. The last thing I wanted was someone telling me what to do. How did they know better?"
Five sessions in and I was hooked. The movements were repetitive and small, the trainer was passionate beyond belief. The results were not even remotely visible on the outside, but I felt so much better. I could not put my finger on why, but I was not about to give up. I trained once a week with private sessions for about a year and all of my muscle spasms in my upper back just went away! The best money I have ever spent, hands down. It puts any handbag, piece of jewellery or shopping spree to shame!
I started feeling happier, sleeping better and best of all, taking that one hour a week just for me.
Pilates is now a mainstay in my fitness routine
My passion for understanding this rather methodical and meticulous sport started to develop. I trained 2-3 times a week in group and private sessions. I got back into boxing, an old-time hobby from college, and would jump into a yoga class a couple of times a month.
As the years passed by, I had ebbs and flows with my workout routine.
I am a bit fanatical, so I tend to engage in lots of crazy things. I eat healthy most of the time but certainly not all of the time. I have a weakness for gummy bears. I drink, sometimes a lot, sometimes not at all. I do not obsess about my weight, but I don’t like to buy new clothes so I try to always stay more or less the same size. And for the last six years, I have never skipped a week without doing an hour of Pilates.
I can engage in any sport I want to. I picked up kitesurfing last year - and although the technical bits nearly killed me, I had no problem with the physical. I have the most incredible flat abs and straight back. I wake up in the morning ready to kick some booty! Now, why is that? And even more, why should you want it?
Let’s talk about vitality
I have been working recently with an incredible metabolic health coach and nutritionist. I am not new to the science of nutrition having grown up with a dietitian for a mom and a doctor for a dad. But, let me tell you, the things I have recently learned blew my mind!
To stay on track, let’s talk about why Pilates improves your vitality markers - aka makes you feel like you are younger than you are!
Muscle mass is a direct reflection of vitality later on in life. It is your ability to engage in anything you want to engage in. For example, a 37-year-old mommy learning to kitesurf and one year later downwinding along the beaches of Brazil with her dorky sun hat and a full coverage SPF body suit.
Structurally it holds you up and is the part of you that burns the most calories. Muscles are actually an endocrine organ that are involved in all of our hormonal processes. They regulate your liver and impact how we metabolize sugar. In short, strong muscles prevent chronic disease.
Pilates, for example, works on the muscles that hold up the skeleton. They are micro but massively important to skeletal health, posture and abdominal strength. As muscle mass grows, metabolic age drops.
Strong bones are the key to ageing. Brittle bones are more common than ever due to lifestyle, eating habits and the little exercise that is being performed as we age. Due to decreasing estrogen levels as we age, bone deconstruction happens.
Particularly for women over 40, this is a massive problem. As we age, we do not construct enough. The only proven way to increase your bone mass is through mechanical pressure i.e. resistance training. Your bones need mechanical stress in order to reconstruct. And Pilates, particularly when done on a reformer, creates exactly the right amount of pressure. Not so much that you injure yourself but enough that you create force.
Winning the war on visceral fat
Lastly, the nasty visceral fat that hides deep inside the belly wrapping your intestines and liver. Ever heard the term fat skinny? That was me.
Visceral fat is linked to Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes, strokes and high cholesterol. It inflames your body tissue and narrows your blood vessels. Pilates is one great way to target the core muscles and over time you will see a massive improvement in your waist-to-hip ratio; killing the visceral fat, little by little. Winning the war... and getting younger every day!
To make my point. This year, six years later, after being dedicated to my training routine and alternating between Pilates, yoga and cross-training in both private and group settings - I have a metabolic age of 23! Essentially I have a vitality 14 years younger than I am!
It is not about weight loss or being skinny. It is about being able to engage in anything you want, no matter what your age. Pilates hands down needs to be part of your training routine.
Training with a trainer - with an experienced and passionate trainer - is worth every single penny. This is not a gimmick or a quick fix, but the key to long-term wellness and vitality. What the heck are you waiting for?
Keep going on your fitness journey here are 5 ways to boost your metabolism!
We at FORFITSAKE can help you find the right trainer for your fitness journey. We’ve done the work for you by attending classes and private sessions to find the best trainers in Switzerland so you know you will get a great workout every time. Find your perfect pilates instructor here!