On the first Friday of the semester, the RAWC held a Pilatesfit group fitness class in the afternoon at the dance studio. At what seems to be the most favourite group fitness class among the ladies at UTM, there were roughly seven times more girls than guys in attendance for this core fitness workout. More importantly, Pilatesfit seems to be a specialized form of actual pilates with a focus on the core, namely the abdomen and lower back. The class incorporated common core exercises with pilates to improve your posture, strength of deep core muscles and range of motion. This overarching workout was also interwoven with a focus on breathing techniques. With a lovely background soundtrack of mystic yoga music playing over a stereo, this Pilatesfit class proved to be a pleasant mind-body balance for a toned body.
One of the differentiating aspects of Pilatesfit is that almost every exercise done in the class was on workout mats. The surprising aspect of this class was that during each exercise, the instructor demonstrated opportunities to make them a little bit more challenging with a couple variations. Hence, the individuals in the class as a whole could go at their own pace and challenge themselves to their capacity. During exercises the class also emphasized breathing techniques so that each push or pull of a muscle was accompanied with an inhalation or exhalation. Remarkably enough, the coupled breathing actually helped with stretching the muscles even farther so that the motion came easier with the momentum of the whole body.
There were quite a few exercises in the class that could be dissected. A common one was the Hundred, where the legs were extended up at an angle, the knees bent at 90 degree, while the hands were laid out flat to the side and the head and shoulders lifted off the mat. However, while usually in pilates the hands rapidly flutter up and down, here the focus was just on stretching the hamstring by keeping the legs in the air as well as the core muscles at the centre required to maintain that position for long periods of time.
There were also a few variations of this very exercise including single leg stretches, shoulder bridge and pelvic curl. The latter one basically required one to lie down supinely, but have their feet flat on the ground, and then attempting to slowly lift your pelvis up and down to exercise the abdomen muscles around the spine.
Another prominent exercise was the pilates push up. In this case, the individual stood straight and then bent down to touch their toes. After stretching the legs, the individual then slowly curls down into a downward dog pose and proceeded to flatten out the body into a push up position, with either the toes or knees touching the ground and maintaining that stance to put weight on the abdomen. Then you’d simply get up and repeat the cycle a few times over. Such exercises were also punctuated with briefer ones including the child pose, and the jack knife where one would supinely lay his torso flat on the mat and then extend his legs upward in a 90-degree angle and progressively rotate them to make acute or obtuse angles. Other exercises included rolling like a ball where you curl up in a fetal position and literally roll around on your back. Also, there was the classic roll up where you’d sit on a mat, back straight, legs extended out in front and then try to lean forward and touch your toes.
Clearly, all these exercises have the same theme where the torso and abdomen muscles are pushed under much pressure. As such, core strength was key. For the novices who lack a daily dose of exercise, core strength workouts can be quite taxing as they focus on muscles usually overlooked in usual physical exertions and sports. Among the other twelve types of group fitness classes, Pilatesfit stands a worthy and useful addition to the RAWC.