Pilates And Everyday Functioning

When we are young, we take the functioning of our bodies for granted, running, jumping, and otherwise enjoying the freedom of movement. As we get older, it comes as a rude shock that movement can be accompanied by pain, and we no longer leap out of bed to greet the day. Before too long, we crawl out of bed in the mornings, resigned to our inevitable fate which we associate with the aging process. 

It doesn’t occur to most of us that we hold responsibility for what has happened to us. No amount of New Years Resolutions to become a gym rat ever seems to last more than a few weeks at best. We hate gyms and snarl at all those makeover stories of superhumans who lost hundreds of pounds before running a marathon. Those stories can be less than inspiring, they seem downright annoying and dispiriting. So we retreat back down into our rabbit hole, slumped on the couch, with the television or our computer being our constant, and often only companion.

The problem is that this downward spiral of inactivity manifests itself in every part of our life which requires movement. We now find difficulty in lifting bags of groceries, let alone lifting bags of cat litter. Bending down to the dishwasher and washing machine are an effort, stairs are to be avoided, we lean on the supermarket cart for support, getting up from a toilet seat is a monumental effort, we try and find a parking space as close as possible to our destination, and most likely we have gained weight. 

We do not like the person we see in the mirror, we despise them, and despair of any positive change being within our grasp. This is is the secret inner world of the senior and fragile population for whom everyday functioning is a monumental effort. It is important for the Pilates teacher both to understand and have compassion for the psyche of this population.

The road back to health can be a long one and certainly not without its own set of struggles and challenges: but core conditioning, the development of all muscles both in strength and flexibility, and special balance exercises, all will go a very long way to restore the functioning of even the most compromised and challenged of Pilates students.

This population start their exercises from an exceptionally low point of fitness and are likely not to be able to take much advantage of Pilates equipment like the Reformer or Cadillac, let alone survive a lesson of an hour’s duration. Given those restrictions, “little and often” should be our aim for the practice goals of this population. This means designing an exercise protocol where the client can use simple, inexpensive aids like TheraBands, Magic Circle, or Foot Bars, often utilized from the sitting or standing position. This way the client can practice by themselves at home and make discernible progress, in a fitness journey where progress is slow. The client needs to keep motivated and celebrate small wins.

As in all Pilates exercise regimens, all groups of muscles need to be engaged. Some introductory exercises ( of which there are many) therefore might include the following introductory pre-Pilates exercises which can be done from the seated position until the client becomes stronger and more mobile. Then exercise positions can be changed. These can include Theraband Flex and Point as well as Ankle Circles, Abduction with a Pilates Magic Ring, A Seated Clamshell with or without a Theraband, Side Bend and Reaches and Theraband Pulls, as well as Leg Extensions.

Even after the client becomes stronger, these exercises can still be included in their daily repertoire. The distinct advantage of this group of exercises is that they do not require studio attendance or expensive equipment.

Learn More About

Pilates And The Aging Population

Muscle Tone And The Aging Process

Pilates And The Brain

Pilates And Everyday Functioning

Pilates And Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pilates And Injury, Illness, Recovery

Pilates And New Recreational Activities

Pilates – An Access To New Wellbeing And Happiness


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