By Kris Cracknell :: Photography by Kelsey Grudle
In recent years, many athletes have been embracing Pilates as a form of cross training to enhance performance and prevent injury. What has become an indispensable part of training programs of entire NFL teams, Olympians and athletes such as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer is equally accessible and beneficial to the athlete in all of us. Pilates is for anyone who wants to function pain free and at an optimal level. It is both diverse and adaptable, and that is the beauty of Pilates!
If you’re looking for ways to maximize your personal performance in your chosen sport and are willing to dedicate time to regular Pilates sessions, measurable change and progression is inevitable. The workout is designed to improve posture by strengthening the back and abdominal muscles, minimize stress and back pain and increase flexibility. Pilates exercises can be practiced on a mat or on Pilates equipment.
The most commonly used apparatus is the Pilates reformer, which uses springs, bars, straps and a pulley system to provide a very effective, efficient and challenging workout. Tamra Ratner practices reformer Pilates twice a week at The Club. “I have utilized Pilates to strengthen my core and leg muscles, and help with my balance. I’ve seen a dramatic effect on my horseback riding. My riding posture and balance have improved and my leg connection to my horse has never been better!”
Every sport has its own distinctive pattern of movement. Some sports use certain muscles repeatedly while underutilizing others. A common form of sport injury is related to repetitive use of certain muscles combined with lack of stability in an opposing muscle. Sports such as golf, tennis and baseball are more one-sided in nature, making muscle balance especially important to decrease risk of injury and enjoy pain-free play. A primary goal in Pilates exercises is to work muscles in pairs. This promotes balance and coordination between muscle groups while increasing flexibility. When muscles are balanced and lengthened, they are able to move through full potential range for whatever activity is taking place. Cordillera Ranch member Bobbie Sanborn says, “I love Pilates because it makes my back and core stronger. That strength makes me better at everything from skiing to tennis to improving my posture. My favorite thing about Pilates is that it creates a strong connection between mind and body, and I am much more aware of my body and recognize when it’s out of balance.”
The practice of Pilates is truly a journey to better health and well-being and can be enjoyed by a broad range of the population. Beyond enhancing your athleticism, a student of Pilates can take the lessons learned during a session and transfer it to everyday movement. Cordillera Ranch member and avid golfer Connie Proudfoot credits her ten years of Pilates practice for her body awareness and her ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. “Pilates has taught me how to move while going about my daily life, preventing injury and using my muscles and joints efficiently. I believe it has been instrumental in keeping me fit and surgery free.”
The exercises learned in a Pilates program can “mimic” the movements practiced in your sport of choice and improve your performance; most importantly, when that sport is living life to its fullest.
Kris Cracknell is the Pilates Instructor at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210.860.7322.