By Kim Fuller Published for the Vail Vitality Center
Think of pro-aging as the new and improved discussion about the aging process. This “Vitality At Every Age” series focuses on themes to help our locals and visitors age in an informed and empowered way.
Pilates is for all ages, according to Angela Muzic, Pilates instructor at the Vail Athletic Club. Perhaps what you’ve heard about Pilates is that it will make you stand taller, or help you to gain deeper core strength.
The exercise method does help to lengthen your spine, and the technique certainly does help to build strength in and around your whole torso — so not only is what you have heard about the “Pilates body” true, the activity can help people of all ages create more strength and sustainable movement patterns.
Muzic says there are also some benefits people don’t expect from a regular Pilates practice, including brighter skin, more comprehensive thinking, an improved sex life, more regular digestion and improved function of the nervous system, to name a few.
“Practicing Pilates is something people of all ages, even with ailments and phycial conditions, can and should do for a comfortable, improved mind and body, and pain-reduced life,” she shares.
Proactive In The Aging Process
Muzic emphasizes that the life-long practice can begin now.
“Why wait another second to change your body and your life?” she asks.
Muzic has been in the fitness industry professionally for over a decade, with a variety of credentials in strength coaching, yoga, dance and other movement-based and pain reducing routines, including Pilates.
“Pilates, in my opinion, is more than adequate as your stand-alone workout, or a complement to anything else that you practice,” she says.
It can be intense strength training, or very gentle movement and flexibility training. Muzic says it is typical to work one-on-one with a private instructor to ensure that the environment is very safe and easy to understand for beginners of all ages.
Just don’t wait until your in pain to be proactive about the aging process.
“In my experience, most people tend to avoid physical symptoms of dysfunction until a real problem occurs, or until they suffer a significant amount of pain,” said Muzic. “If we begin to change our mindset to preventing these patterns of dysfunction before they occur, we can literally slow down the aging process.”
She points out that if we live long enough, we will all experience ailments like achy knees, low back discomfort and arthritis. What we can do to slow down the aging process is to move our bodies as they are intended to be moved.
“As we age and neglect the basic functional movement patterns of our joints — imagine an elderly person hunched over a walker — our bodies respond with pain,” she says. “Pain, whether minimal or significant, indicates an imbalance.”
Pilates focuses on total body balance through proper join mobility from head to toe with a technical and precise understanding of the muscle recruitment involved in the movement. The result, Muzic explains, is a “beautiful balance” between flexibility and strength and prevention of basic join disfunction, or healing from pain that is already occurring.
“Whether it’s your stand-alone workout, you are an athlete looking to cross-train, someone rehabbing an injury or especially someone in the aging population, the right Pilates practitioner can adjust the moment patterns specifically to you needs,” explains Muzic.
Part of the natural aging process is losing lean muscle mass, as well as physical balance, which effects participation in outdoor activities, as well as day-to-day lifestyle movement.
“Simple tasks like getting in and out of the car, reaching for something or standing up from a seated position can become challenging,” she says. “Pilates addresses simple physical tests like this, as well as conditions you for your more vigorous activities.”
There is also a lot of emphasis on the “mind-body connection” in a Pilates lesson, which Muzic says is imperative for stress management.
For more information and to book a session, call 970-476-7960.
Kim Fuller is a freelance writer and yoga instructor based in the Vail Valley.