Challenges: How to Change Your Body and Mind

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A Pilates Challenge can help you create new healthy habits to meet your health and fitness goals at every level.

Why should I join a Pilates Challenge?

Especially when life gets busy - work, relationships, family and travel all make demands on our time - it's easy to fall into habitual routines. The goals we set weeks, months or even years ago can feel like long-lost friends.

Thankfully, every minute of each day is a new opportunity for change. Why couldn't today be the one where you take the initiative and start a new habit? Rather than start a diet, dye your hair, throw out your old wardrobe and ditch your car for a motorbike all at once though, let's start with an achievable daily task that makes you stronger, fitter, healthier and - hopefully - happier.

Just as every successful athlete (or baker, artist, you name it) knows, it takes practice to make perfect. Having support, guidance and a mentor as you go through your daily tasks reminds you that we're in this together. All of us could use an incentive to change old patterns and embrace the ones that we're proud of.

So, what are the obstacles to achieving the goals we set? Usually, they are excuses around the time we've got, the budget we're working with, the space around us, how we perceive ourselves now, and boredom. Sometimes, doing something "good" can feel boring. No-carb diet? Definitely boring!

I’m not sure I’m ready for a Challenge. Tell me more.

Thankfully, a Pilates Challenge is designed to introduce you to a new routine in a way that is fun, progressive, and tailored to your fitness level and where you want to be at the end. Ultimately, the Challenge you choose should be short enough to feel like you're not a slave to your new routine, but long enough to get real, measurable results in your fitness and your attitude.

Don't worry that signing up to a Challenge requires a long-term commitment either. There's a range of options so that you can choose a 10-Day Pilates Challenge, 30-Days, and anywhere in between.

Just like going to the Bahamas when it's freezing cold at home is enough to revive your spirit, and remind you how glorious life is, consider a Pilates Challenge the vacation from your normal a workout routine.

I want to make Pilates a routine in my life but I’ve been making excuses. Can a Challenge help?

Psychology Today reported in May 2017 that there are 3 characteristics required to form good habits:

1. Attention

2. Focus

3. Purposeful Repetition

When we undertake a challenge to kickstart an ongoing pattern of good habits, we can apply each of these characteristics to our Pilates practice for a very short period each day until it becomes a new pattern. The Psychology Today study found that "The Habit Replacement Loop" enables us to replace bad habits with new habits through repeating the new habits until they become automatic. This way, we can replace our bad habits (eating in front of the TV instead of doing Pilates!) with a new, good habit (switching on Pilates Anytime at exactly 6:15 pm each evening). In fact, a study by Phillippa Lally and colleagues at University College London found that 66 days is the average amount of time that a habit must be repeated to become automatic. That's just over two months.

Studies also show that teaming up with a friend to hold you accountable can improve the likelihood of sticking to your new routine. Just knowing that you're arriving back to your Mat daily with a teacher you can trust and rely on to be there can provide a sense of comfort and security to continue your new Pilates habit.

This all sounds good. Could you give me just a couple more reasons to start though?

You bet.

The reasons to take up a Pilates Challenge are the same for taking up Pilates as a regular practice. Only, a Challenge can kickstart your new habit: forming a new normal for you. Sometimes deciding to do something forever can feel scary and intimidating, so that we only need to get out of routine for one day and we lose momentum. A 10-Day Challenge is short enough to be accessible and achievable. We're then on a path toward sustainable succcess: Pilates as a lifestyle.

Research shows Pilates results in improved flexibility, core stability, injury prevention and optimised athletic performance. It also enhances mindfulness and sensory awareness, which can aid in stress reduction, improved mood and enjoyment in daily living.

I’m ready to start a Pilates Challenge. What are my choices?

So, you're wondering what your options are. Good. You'll be glad to know they're all fun, they're all accessible immediately, and they're all designed to work for you as a solo Challenge participant, or gather a few friends and agree to do it together.

Not sure which Pilates Challenge to start with? A 10-Day option is a great way to kickstart a daily habit that will strengthen, harmonize and balance your body. Kristi Cooper guides you towards discovering the Pilates method, or rediscovering it if you've fallen out of routine. Daily, each time you return to your Mat, you'll build on the work you've been doing over the previous classes so that you can see how all the elements of Pilates combine to help you move freely, confidently and with an awakened awareness to how amazing your body is.

Kick off with Kristi's 10-minute tips for success. Over the course of this short challenge, you'll learn about using space, showing up and being present through your practice, raising your energy and awareness, developing a sense of groundedness and a strong foundation, breathing in a way that connects you with your own vital source of energy, and the very important element of play!

Amy Havens' Summer Fling Challenge is only 10 classes. That's less than two weeks of commitment! Once you sign up, you'll receive a creative workout each day. If you're feeling nervous, or unsure about whether a Challenge is for you, don't worry. That's totally normal. The first video you'll watch is a 5-minute introduction where Amy gives you all the tips you need to successfully complete the challenge. From there, the daily videos vary in length from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. That's less than an hour a day. Consider it your daily vacation to the Bahamas!

What sort of fitness challenges will you be doing? How about 30 minutes of abs to strengthen and define your tummy muscles? On day 4, you'll focus on the lower body then the next day, it's all about the upper body including arms, chest and back. Worried that it's all tough workouts? Don't be. On day 7, there's a stretchy, slower paced class to focus on alignment, posture, stretching and recovering the muscles.

Join Meredith Rogers for the Return To You 10-Day Pilates Challenge if you're looking for a way to nourish your mind, body and spirit. Meredith leads us into a moving meditation, designed to reconnect each of us with being present, mindful and compassionate towards ourselves. Sometimes we get so busy "doing" things, we forget that we're "being" too. Funny, soulful and very wise, checking in with Meredith for your daily movement class will be the most peaceful 30 minutes of your day.

An internationally renowned teacher who regularly takes master classes everywhere from Dubai to Sydney, Meredith meets you wherever you are - even your living room. Day 1 is all about awareness, Day 2 focuses on your breath and how it supports your movement. On Day 3, balance your body through working one side at a time to focus on harmonising your left, right, top, bottom, front and back. As you continue through to Day 10, you'll work on efficiency, flow, precision, harmony, concentration and finding your center.

I want a longer challenge. What 30-Day Pilates Challenges are available?

I want more, you're saying? Perhaps you've completed a 10-Day Challenge, loved it, and want a month of classes curated around a theme. There's something really nourishing and comforting about coming back to the same teacher and space each day. In Monica Wilson's Revival Challenge, you'll gain greater control over your body so that soon you'll feel more energised, invigorated and excited by what you discover about your own movement and ability. It can be easy to forget how beautifully your body is made - it's a wondrous feat of engineering! This 30-Day Challenge will remind you of this daily.

Final Tips for Success

1. Find a place you can set up a Mat along with any other equipment you may need, like a fan or towel. Returning to the same place each time for your practice can assist in making it a new habit.

2. Tell your supportive friends and family members that you’re doing a Pilates Challenge so that they can support you and encourage you.

3. Comment on the videos you enjoy and read the feedback from other community members doing the same Pilates Challenge as you to remind yourself you’re part of an international Pilates community.

4. Forgive yourself if you miss a day and commit to starting again the next day – it’s the choices you make to finish what you have started that really count.

5. Share your achievement with us on Pilates Anytime via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in forums so that we can celebrate your success!

About the Author

Cat Woods

Cat Woods is the Australian founder of Ballet Sculpt, a barre, yoga and Pilates instructor and writer. She has written on fitness, food, travel and beauty for various media and her own blog, Core Integrity for over a decade. She is a self-confessed daily user of Pilates Anytime, with a particular dedication to Meredith Roger's mat classes.


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