Sports, exercise and activity have always been important in our home, though we don’t engage nearly enough. Our oldest would rather have a pencil in her had to sketch than get sweaty, while our little one is so fast we can’t keep up with her! But nowadays with kids on phones, iPads or other screen time inactivity is becoming a problem. We all need to get moving this spring and one of the things I’ve always wanted to try is Pilates. I just didn’t know it was great for kids too…until I chatted with Christa Gurka of Pilates in the Grove.
Christa started her career as a Physical Therapist but was exposed early to the value of Pilates. She owns and operates Pilates in the Grove which teaches celebs such as Matt Damon and the Miami HEAT’s own Erik Spoelstra. But she also recently had an event where she took her mats on the road to three local schools. It was famed DJ Irie’s Health and Fitness week for his Irie Foundation and he called on Gurka to bring her experience and Pilates classes to students. Irie said,
We loved the opportunity to work with Christa to teach the kids of the Irie Foundation about Pilates. Not only did they have a blast, but it gave our middle-schoolers the chance to learn and experience something that has a positive impact on them, both physically and mentally. They are already asking about their next Pilates class!”
Gurka told me children ages 11-14 can really benefit from this form of stretching and exercise, so I got the skinny of the how and why in case anyone else would like to try this form of exercise for their kids! We’ve all heard about what Pilates can do for adults, but I was surprised to learn the benefits for kids not only physically, but in the classroom as well.
here is my q & a with christa!
I’ve never actually tried Pilates, what are the benefits?
“The first thing most people think is it’s physical, but the best benefit is your understanding of your body and people’s awareness of body and space. It gives people the perception of their posture and how they are sitting and standing, and when you improve that so many things in your life will improve afterwards. There’s a lower chance of injury, you feel better, and you sleep better. It also helps to improve strength, core, arms, back, legs, and improves flexibility which decreases your likelihood of injury. It also reduces stress because of mental component, and it builds self confidence – the better you feel about yourself and your body the better you feel about life in general.”
Most associate Yoga with Pilates, what’s the key difference?
“The key difference is Pilates uses equipment and machines, where yoga is you and your mat. Yoga you tend to hold poses, and in Pilates you have to move in and out versus holding it.”
How does Pilates truly help kids?
“Between ages 11-14 a lot of our children are going to begin to grow rapidly, it’s such an awkward stage in their development because their bodies are growing and it takes a little while for their muscles to catch up. So this is a great time to introduce Pilates because of the flexibility component. The exercise regimen will help them elongate their muscles in a way that some of those growing pains will be decreased. The other thing that is beneficial is that this is a challenging time and being able to gain awareness on how your body moves and stand up taller, better coordination and mobility helps, improve their self confidence through school.
Lastly, Pilates can help kids during tough testing periods. It’s a mind body exercise, it’s not just about doing the motion – it’s doing the motion properly. You have to be focused and it teaches the body and mind how to focus when they need to. It helps give kids better tools to tune out what is going on around them…and they sleep better because your body can de-stress and shut down when it needs to shut down. I wouldn’t say this is the only exercise they should do, but it’s a good thing to incorporate once a week.”
I can’t wait to try out one of her classes at Pilates in the Grove! And if you don’t live in South Florida there are plenty of great classes online like Crunch Live that you can do at home with your kids. Don’t you just love how the internet can actually help us get strong…if only we get up and start moving our bodies!
Aubrey @ 53 Weeks says
I try to get some squats in, in between pushing the swings at the playground…haha! But actually, I’ll do planks at home in front of the TV, using my phone’s timer..and my boys love to get right beside me and mimic Mommy…they also love pressing start and stop on the timer!
Interesting! I’ve never done any ‘organized’ exercising with my kids, but I bet they’d get a kick out of trying.
i’ve never tried pilates… maybe i (we) should!?
I see a lot of yoga kids classes but haven’t seen pilates. This is great to know the benefits for those teen/tween years. As you said, there’s so much going to with puberty, growth spurts, awkwardness and academic test taking that having another outlet like pilates sounds like a great. one.
Wow, I should get my older kiddos involved in something like this! It is so true that they are growing so much during those years of 11-14 and their movements seem awkward to even them. I do yoga with my kiddos at home sometimes to help them center before doing homework or when studying for big tests. It really works! Now to try Pilates 🙂
I LOVE Pilates. My oldest would actually try to do some of the exercises with me when I was doing my videos on the weekends. It was pretty funny actually. I’ll have to look into actual classes for her when she gets to the 11-14 range. Thanks for the info!
I think it’s great for kids and adults alike to strengthen their core. I like the idea of how it helps them focus.
My girls LOVE doing Pilates with me! Contrary to what your expert described, there ARE Pilates routines that can be done without equipment – ballet routines especially. It is awesome for the core and booty! My littles just follow the routine I am doing on TV – I don’t correct them yet, but try and show them the proper form. They have a blast – seriously!
Pilates and yoga for youth!! LOVE the message and can attest that is does help, especially when you do it together!
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
What a super informative post!
I used to do pilates back at the end of the 90s – wow… that long ago?! However, I got into yoga and liked not needing the equipment to exercise. However, pilates worked wonders on my body whereas yoga takes a lot of time and intentional practice.
Thanks for sharing. It’s good to know this is beneficial for teens, I’ll keep that in mind for when my lovelies are that age (Lord help me).
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
Dawn Lopez says
This is so cool! Never thought about the benefits that Pilates could have for kids. We did try some Yoga at one point and that was cool. My son could definitely use something like this, I’m wondering if we would consider it!
Katie Jenkins says
Hi there Kristen! I found you yesterday on the Inspiration Monday Linky party. I saw that cake! The bottom layer was almost identical to the bottom of my wedding cake! I think it’s gorgeous. I’m a relatively new health/fitness/lifestyle blogger so I’m still figuring the whole linky party thing out, but your cake definitely drew my eye. And then I noticed your pilates for kids post! I’m a professional dancer, but I also teach pilates as well as dance. I’m really interested in children’s fitness so naturally I loved the topic. In addition to pilates, dance is another great activity for kids as well as adults. It’s not only great for coordination and gaining an awareness of their bodies, it’s also giving them the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Additionally, dance teaches kids a different way to problem solve. Blah, blah, blah. Anywho, I truly enjoyed your post and I’ll definitely be back:-)
So nice to meet you Katie! I love hearing about dance as well because both of our girls just started dance this year and they LOVE it. It is so important to get kids moving!
Silas Knight says
It’s interesting to learn the benefits of Pilates for kids. I know that when I was growing up, my body grew so fast that it was really uncoordinated and awkward. So, I can understand what you are saying about how Pilates helps their muscles keep up with their bodies growth.