Posted on April 22 2020
Meet the lovely Lucy Mills, founder of Your Ideal Fit. She's a London based Pilates, Barre and TRX instructor working across a selection of London’s private members’ clubs, including premium venues KX Chelsea and Mortimer House. She also trains private clients in their London homes and internationally via video calls. Last year, Lucy launched the Your Ideal Fit Conscious Living Retreat which was voted in the top wellness retreats of 2019 in the likes of Evening Standard, The Telegraph, Stylist, Country & Town House, and Eco-Age.
What is it about Pilates? We know sportspeople, dancers and celebrities swear by it, but we have to confess, we don't know enough about it. So we at ILU jumped at the chance to ask gorgeous Lucy a few questions about why Pilates can do so much for you, why you too, yes you, should include it in your exercise routine and how she herself became a teacher.
Q: We’re a bit confused between Yoga and Pilates. Are they completely different?
Lucy: Yes, Yoga and Pilates are very different.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices and part of a much wider ancient philosophy.
Alongside physical components, the practice incorporates other elements such as specific breathwork and meditation.
Pilates is purely physical, with classical Pilates being very technical. It requires a lot of mental focus and control to be performed correctly and to gain maximum benefit.
Pilates links one's breath to specific movements like a yoga practice, however the breath technique is very different.
The Pilates breath involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips - like blowing out a row of candles.
This will fire up the deep core muscles and once recruited, these muscles control the position of the spine during dynamic movements of your body.
Q: How did you get into Pilates?
Lucy: I was a professional dancer and like most dancers, practiced Pilates regularly as part of my training.
Q: How does Pilates help our fitness and wellness?
Lucy: Pilates is a low impact exercise discipline that balances the strength and flexibility of the small muscles around the joints of the body.
The practice is intended to build on every body’s natural movement and posture - balancing muscle strength and flexibility for overall harmony.
In the long term, this means our posture is improved and we are less injury prone.
Spinal health is maintained as each session guides the spine through the different movements available to it - flexion, extension, lateral flexion (side bending), rotation and articulation.
We also learn awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment.
Q: How can we use Pilates during these lockdown times?
Lucy: Pilates is an exceptional practice to build strength in a balanced way ensuring our spines are staying healthy and mobile.
It is likely, throughout the self-isolation and lockdown period, that many people will be sedentary for most of the day.
Pilates is a great way to get the whole body moving and prevent bad postural habits creeping in.
Pilates builds upon very natural movement and the matwork sessions require nothing more than - you guessed it - a mat!
No jargon, no headstands, no spiritual practice - just simple exercises, graded from beginner to advanced, to support physical health.
Q: What’s your own favourite Pilates move and why?
Lucy: One of my favourite matwork Pilates exercises is Breast Stroke.
The focus of the exercise is to extend the upper mid back which is a very common problem zone for many people.
Spending long hours sat at a desk, crouched over a laptop or interacting with social media on a phone all contribute to that slumped, head forward posture.
This unnatural position causes weakness and strain in the neck and can lead to the overly rounded upper back and hunched shoulder look.
The Pilates Breast Stroke series is the perfect remedy as it lengthens and strengthens the exact areas weakened by modern work practices.
Like most Pilates exercises is can be performed in various stages of difficulty.
I would always advise beginning with the first simple option and increasing the challenge when ready. Think about the form, the technique and the placement at all times.
Try Pilates with Lucy at home with her 15 min Stretch & Spinal Mobility video:
Try Pilates with Lucy at home with her 18 min Pilates based session focusing on the lower body:
Join Lucy's community online:
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