Melanie Sykes - Tempo Pilates London

De-stressing with Pilates

I can forgive you if you think Pilates isn’t for you. After attending my first class I swore I’d never go back. Why? Because I hadn’t broken a sweat and couldn’t see the point. Now, looking back on that day I cringe at my naivety. Plus, I now sweat during every Pilates class I teach.

Most people start Pilates either for all over muscle toning, relieving niggles, aches and pains or injury rehabilitation. While Pilates will help with these, it is also great for stress relief.

Finding your de-stressor

Whether you have a busy job, family or social life, your days are likely riddled with potentially stressful situations. Some people are better at dealing with their stress than others (I’m guilty of screaming at my boyfriend for no apparent reason on a regular basis). But finding a way to destress is so important. This might be reading a book, drinking a glass of wine or pounding the treadmill; everyone is different and there is no single solution.

I used to think keeping busy stopped me feeling stressed. I would fill my diary with social events and try to exercise as much as I could. I’d never sit down. Never stop. But keeping busy was masking my stress and when I did, on a rare occasion, stop I would feel extremely down and low. Now, I use Pilates (among other things) as my de-stressor.

Connecting with your body

Pilates requires you to concentrate on every movement, connecting with your body and being aware of what muscles are working when. This leaves no time for a wandering mind or thoughts about what’s for tea, when to pick up the kids or what you haven’t done on your to-do list.

Through small, precise movements you will learn to engage and strengthen your core, relax muscles that aren’t required for the exercise and breathe correctly. Being in control of your body in this way is a form of mindfulness, where you are living and experiencing life in the moment and not distracted by other factors.

Something that I struggled with when I first took a Pilates class was the breathing – every exercise requires you to breathe in a certain way. The reason I struggled so much was because I, like many people, was a lazy breather. Pilates teaches you to control your breath and breathe yourself into a state of calmness, which is great for stressful situations in day-to-day life.

While I know that I am biased and that Pilates isn’t for everyone, I would recommend anyone feeling a bit stressed, anxious or generally run down gives it a go. I’m so glad that I went back after my first class and hope you will too.

Nikki Withers


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