Campus Life, Lifestyle

How pilates changed fitness forever

When I first began working out, I thought I had to work out for hours, pushing my body far past its limits. If I didn’t complete those three miles on the treadmill, I would criticize myself for not working out enough. 

My workouts consisted mostly of cardio and then a random abdominal workout found on YouTube. Not only did working out become a dreadful cycle in my everyday life, but it also created frustration. I was doing all these cardio and ab workouts, but not yet seeing results. But I was consistent, pushing myself to work out for hours in the gym. 

One day while I was at the gym, I decided I needed to change my routine. This change has altered everything about my workout. Not only did I see results within a small amount of time, I feel more confident than ever while spending less time at the gym.

A person doing pilates. Morgan writes about the benefits of the equipment-free, low-impact exercise for those seeking to boost their physical health and reduce stress. COURTESY OF DANE WETTON VIA UNSPLASH

YouTube has been a go-to for me when it comes to fitness. The platform offers numerous workouts, which has introduced me to pilates and allowed me to create a routine that has worked for me the past year and a half. Whenever I got bored of a certain workout, I searched for other workout styles and was provided with thousands of different options. Over time, I began to learn which type of workouts and instructors I preferred and was able to cycle through the videos they offer. It truly is a trial-and-error type of process, but the results are worth it. 

But not only did YouTube introduce me to pilates, it introduced me to multiple other pilates instructors and more importantly, Tasha Franken. 

The first pilates video I followed by Franken left me in shock. I was stuck in the mindset that hours of cardio and intense ab exercises were the only way to see or feel results. I discovered the next morning, after following one of Tasha Franken’s 20-minute full-body workouts, that that could not have been further from the truth. 

I continued following her workouts throughout the next week and complimented it with other physical activity — mostly walking my dog. Not only did I see results within a week of doing her workouts, I looked forward to the workouts themselves.

The gym was no longer a necessity. Franken’s workouts required no equipment, so I was able to exercise anywhere. It was also much more time-efficient, as I used to forcefully fit in a two-hour workout when I only had an hour. 

Working out is a great way to destress, yet I was constantly stressed about fitting in that routine throughout my busy days. Some days I roll out of bed, unroll my yoga mat, watch a 20-minute pilates video and then start my day. Unfortunately, Tasha Franken transferred her videos over to her website where you have to pay for a subscription to watch the videos, deleting all but eight workout videos from YouTube. However, if you fall in love with pilates as I did, it is worth the investment since you’ll no longer require a gym membership. 

Pilates may be challenging at first. But with time, you will gain the strength and balance to execute the movements without falling over or needing a break. If you’re used to doing intense cardio like I was, pilates is going to be quite a shock. Its focus is on increasing posture, balance and flexibility without putting strain on your joints. 

In other words, it’s an effective low-impact workout. If I’m feeling crazy and want an extra burn, I incorporate one-pound ankle weights. These, of course, are not a necessity but if you are in search of purchasing a pair, I highly recommend the Bala Bangles. While they are on the pricier side, you’ll never have any irritating issues with velcro, as I did with the pair I bought for $10 at Marshalls. I also use ankle weights as wrist weights when performing arm exercises. 

While I love Tasha Franken, I have also discovered a few other pilates instructors offering enjoyable and varied content. Move With Nicole, Bailey Brown and Nathalie Shanti are all pilates instructors who have tons of content posted on YouTube for free. All of them offer playlists containing videos for beginners, which is a great place to start and introduce your body to the unique, subtle movements of pilates. 

With finals around the corner, stress levels are increasing. Pilates could be the solution to destress. Even if five minutes in the morning is all the time you have to spare, you can easily find a five-minute pilates video on YouTube. Don’t knock it till you try it. 

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