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Can you start Pilates when you’re over 50?


Article by Julie Clifton of the Pilates Foundation

Everybody has heard about Pilates, how it’s the exercise choice of celebrities, how it will give you a flatter stomach, better posture and a longer, stronger body. But is it something that you can start when you’re over 50? And if it is how do you find a teacher and a class that will suit you?

If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young

Joseph Pilates said that “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young.”
A hundred years later many doctors, osteopaths and physiotherapists seem to agree with him and increasingly recommend Pilates for people who aren’t very fit, have aches and pains or have been through injuries or illnesses.

Pilates is a safe and effective exercise method for mind and body

Pilates is a safe and effective exercise method for your mind and your body. A good teacher will help you to look, and feel your very best. You’ll work together to improve your strength, flexibility and overall mobility. It can restore your body to balance, improve your posture and change the way that you move.
Although the principles of Pilates are simple, developing your core strength, moving with flow and control, using the mind to control the body, they can take a while to learn. If you’re experienced in Pilates a DVD, a video or even a drop-in class, can be a great way to keep up your fitness levels. But if you’re new to it you really need someone with the experience to teach you how to make it work with your body. In our 50s and beyond most of us have picked up a few imbalances that need to be evened out, a good teacher will work with you to sort those problems out.


Of course not all over 50s are just looking for something to help with their general fitness, many are still active in competitive sport. Runners, golfers, tennis players and other sports people find that Pilates can help their performance and help avoid injury.The Pilates Foundation is the only not for profit training organisation in the UK. It was founded in 1996 and brings together qualified Pilates teachers who are passionate about providing the highest standards of training and practice of Pilates and maintaining the principles and integrity of the work. If you go onto their website www.pilatesfoundation.com you’ll be able to search for a teacher near you.

A good pilates teacher will understand any underlying health issues

A good teacher will:

•    limit the size of their classes so that they can give everybody individual attention
•    make sure that they understand any underlying health issues that might affect your ability to exercise
•    adjust the exercises to make them suitable for you
•    keep up to date with the current research into exercise

As well as the matwork classes that most people are familiar with you’ll find details of Pilates Foundation equipment studios around the country. In a studio setting you’ll work one to one with the teacher, or in a small group, on equipment that was originally designed by Joseph Pilates. It’s fun and challenging exercise that can be infinitely adjusted to the individual. It’s great for people with busy lives who can’t make a regular weekly class but need to fit sessions in with their schedule. Give it a go and see if it works for you.

Julie Clifton

Julie Clifton is writing on behalf of the Pilates Foundation

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  1. Izzy

    May 21, 2011

    I started pilates in my mid 40s and was amazed at how quickly I felt the benefits. Now I vary the routine to fit in some hatha yoga during the week too. Both are great – mentally and physically. Enjoying reading the articles here. Keep up the good work!
    Izzy x

  2. Marie

    May 22, 2011

    I started Pilates at 58! Did it for 12 months along with learning salsa! I had a year off after an arthroscopy and am now back doing both again and have just celebrated my 60th birthday. It will make you feel fantastic as well as all the other benefits you read about. Just try it you have nothing to lose.

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