June 16, 2013
PILATES FOR SEALS SWIM TEAM
Pilates is a fitness method of strengthening, stretching and balancing the body; all movement is initiated from the core; it has many benefits for people that practice it regularly, especially athletes. Pilates complements swimming by increasing core strength, flexibility, alignment, making swimmers focus on every movement they make, to improve them and to have more control over every motion. Pilates promotes coordination and mind-body connection and when they get to the water they are more receptive, less distracted and ready to compete.
The breathing technique, a principle of Pilates, also benefits swimmers since breathing right oxygenates blood, helps the body to relax when there is pressure before a meet; swimmers will learn how breathing is more efficient when they fill up their lungs completely and continuously to increase circulation and enhance movements.
Pilates will complement swimming and help you feel better and perform more efficiently. Swimmers gain stronger abdominal muscles which are the base of their movements.
This method is based in six principles, they are body alignment, breathing, concentration, control, flow and precision. All principles are applied in every routine and with time they become part of your everyday body motion mindfulness.
Pilates will give swimmers confidence and energy, it will also train their bodies for awareness so they don’t get hurt, teaches them to use their power house (core muscles) to start all movements and gives them the ability to relax.
Many Olympic athletes practice Pilates as part of their training program. One of the best examples is from our own town’s Olympic swimmer, Dana Vollmer, who is a gold medalist and had set U.S. and world record. (2012 London Olympic Games: world record in 100 butterfly). Other athletes that include Pilates in their training to improve in their sport are Natalie Coughlin, Ariana Kukors (both Olympic swimmers), Kris Humphries (Basketball), Ryan Giggs (Soccer) and Aubrey Huff (Baseball), just to name a few.
We will begin with basic movements advancing in every class until we have flow and everyone is following the workout correctly, then we progressively move into the more advanced exercises and perfect the introductory ones. How fast we advance depends on the response of each age group. And remember that Pilates is all about control and quality of exercise.
I prefer for the participants to use a mat to protect the spine; we also workout on the grass because it is softer than the concrete floor around the pool and more comfortable for the back; some kids prefer the concrete, in that case I recommend a thicker mat. Many are just fine with their towel on the grass so it is up to the swimmer.