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!