Now, far be it from me to drop a name or two (and I’m sure he drops mine as well!), but Mo Farah and I go back a wee bit. When I was based in Twickenham, I worked with ‘Sir Mo’ as he was to become. In fairness, I can’t claim all of the credit – he did put in a fair bit of the work! However, I did get a front row seat in seeing what is necessary when training alone to be become a superstar.
Mo was the complete individual athlete. He had a sixth gear to his training which he could apply with a moment’s thought. His potential was unending but, more importantly, his dedication and commitment to improve each day were unwavering.
Hard work beats talent
I believe potential only accounts for a small percentage of what is necessary to become a successful athlete, whether you are striving for Olympic gold medals or just trying to improve your fitness. Multiple other factors far outweigh potential when it comes to succeeding and achieving your goals. And the most important factor is whether you have the intrinsic motivation and discipline to push yourself as hard as you need to.
Individual v Group settings
This is where the group training versus individual training approach comes in. As a physiotherapist, I am used to treating both athletes who train in a group environment and athletes who train alone. Athletes who train alone are often very single minded. They can usually find that extra gear when training alone and are very critical of their form. On the other hand, I have treated many athletes who are involved in professional and nonprofessional teams who are incapable of pushing themselves and motivating themselves when training alone. These individuals must perform with assistance and guidance at all times.
Given that many of the elite athletes are in need of a group to help push them, it’s no surprise that the average person who walks through our doors often does too.
Platinum Class groups
At Platinum, we aim to eliminate the negatives associated with the class environment and accentuate the positives. We do this by making the pilates class smaller and our approach more personal. We have not only designed a programme to advance into more difficult classes when ready, we have also integrated a process of regression, when necessary, as life and injuries sometimes get in the way of our goals. By providing a multi-disciplinary approach to wellness we hope to empower every patient & client to achieve their goals. In the fitness industry pain or dysfunction often disrupt this progress, by providing a method of regression within our system we hope to allow Clients and patients to progress and regress as necessary without losing sight of their long-term fitness objective.
Dealing with injury in a group setting
At Platinum we aim to provide an environment which allows every person to strive for their individual fitness goals even if injury or dysfunction get in the way. Sir Mo always set realistic targets but was never afraid to change his routine or plan if injury or poor form got in the way.
Pros and Cons of Group training
So, what are the Pros and Cons of training in a class environment?
Letting your class buddies down by not turning up for a session makes it much more difficult to drop your class for a last-minute glass of wine after work. The key is to remember that the 9 or 10 other people in the class are often in the same position, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to not let each other down.
When you get there, you don’t have to rely just on your own mental strength. Your instructor will motivate (and even that background music helps!), so that the session you were dreading actually becomes quite enjoyable. Your innate sense of competitiveness also kicks in – you don’t want to look bad in front of the others, do you? So, you find yourself keeping your form better than if you were doing it in front of the telly. And that feeling as you leave a session on days like that is just fantastic.
Closely associated with the Motivation point above, our clients find that it’s not just the fitness benefit that is important – it’s also just getting out and about and meeting people. This may be especially true if you are a mother whose life has somehow become all about keeping everyone else happy. Particularly if you arrange a regular class with some friends, but also if you just turn up en spec, you will find that the social aspect becomes important and adds to the enjoyment of getting in shape.
The true beauty of our Pilates class is that all our instructors come from different backgrounds in exercise/health and therefore all provide a different approach, with the same underlying core Pilates principles. What amazes me each week is the variety of positive feedback I get from patients who are also reformer Pilates enthusiasts. Two patients may have been in the exact same class but will go home with a completely different outlook and experience. Your mood and general motivation level can also allow you to pick the correct instructor or level for that day.
Injuries require an individualised approach
If you have an acute injury, group sessions or individualised personal training sessions are not for you. Although our instructors are amazing (and are hands on in providing regressions and progressions when necessary), the very nature of the sessions makes an individualised approach for injured clients impossible. If you have any background injuries, why not come see our Specialist Physiotherapy team in Platinum Physio? They will not only assess and treat your injury, but will also transition you back into Reformer Pilates. This seamless transition will also allow your physio to leave guideline notes on our system for our instructors. This will give our amazing instructors the information needed to focus on where you need to be worked hardest and more importantly what exercises to avoid in the initial stages.
In a general class setting it is very difficult for instructors to assess and critique individual form. Thankfully, in Platinum, our instructors are expert at negotiating this by giving very specific demonstrations and cues to perform the exercises correctly. This reduces the need for constant analysis on form. However, when introducing a new exercise you may notice our instructors become a little more ‘hands on’ to facilitate correct technique. The relatively small class sizes mean you usually don’t get away with sacrificing form for reps.
Overtraining is certainly a factor in generic fitness classes and gives the individualised approach the edge in the fitness industry. Thankfully the nature of reformer Pilates makes overtraining very unlikely as the reformer carriage itself is designed specifically not to overload individual tissue, but to disperse the tension across the body. It is still, however, very important to designate a couple of days a week to rest and recovery.
In summary, from a Reformer Pilates point of view, the general disadvantages associated with pilates class participation actually don’t apply so much. This is because of the small class size, attention to form and our seamless ability to handle injury through our Platinum Physio practice, with its sharing of information with our instructors. So, we would make the argument for class participation, unless injury is preventing this from being in your best interest.
Back Issues? This is the class for you
We are currently in the process of designing precise classes for those who find Reformer Pilates too daunting a prospect – such as people with persistent low back pain. Our Spine Clinic will be suitable for clients with disc pathologies or who suffer from diseases which effect their spine – such as osteoporosis, arthritis and other degenerative spine conditions.
It will be a gentle mobility class in which we shall work on improving your posture, balance & gait without over loading the joints or discs. The classes will begin later this year and will involve a specialist instructor and one of our chartered physiotherapists.
Other Bespoke Classes
We shall also be rolling out upper and lower limb specific classes for those injuries which do not fall into the spinal clinic criteria. Keep an eye on our blog over the next few weeks to get the necessary details of how and when to book into our bespoke classes. Be quick, though, because these classes are likely to book up quite soon after availability has opened. We have already been inundated with requests to book into these classes, so don’t miss out.