Why everyone over 40 should do pilates and how to start

Are you eager to prolong the strength and flexibility of your body and live your best life for many years to come… Yes? Well Pilates is for you and in this article with Romanas Pilates Expert, Kirstin Ferrie we’re going to share why everyone over 40 should do pilates and how to start.

If you have never had an introduction to Pilates, it’s never too late to start! With an increasingly ageing population and so many of us determined to live longer and stronger than ever before, strength and conditioning habits like Pilates, are high on our daily agendas and are a big reason why everyone over 40 should do pilated. With the additional holistic benefits of breath work and mindfulness, Pilates is a fabulous way to increase fitness, protect ourselves from injury, maintain flexibility and prolong the lifetime of the things we enjoy most; whether that’s intense sport, staying active with the family or simply enjoying optimum core strength and good posture. 

As our bodies age, we’re more prone to; weight gain, muscle loss, and stiffening up in our joints. Pilates is a fabulous way to combat all of these. With the use of the springs and our own body it is the perfect form of exercise to do after 40. For women as our oestrogen levels decrease we need to this type of exercise to keep our joints and bone density healthy. Pilates makes everything else we do easier so for those still wanting to continue contact or impact sports this method is a must after 40.

Romanas Pilates is the classical method of Pilates, named after Romana Kryranoskwa, who took over running the original studio after Joseph Pilates’ death. The Pilates method is based around reshaping and strengthening the body, strengthening the core, realigning the body and posture and improving flexibility, without stressing the joints. It’s all about strength, stretch and control.

If you’re just starting out on your Pilates journey there are some great habits to consider and get you started:

Fresh air and breath work

If I had to pick one exercise from Pilates mat work, one that ticks all the boxes is ‘Hundreds’ – this exercise focuses on breath, strength and gets circulation pumping. Joe (Pilates) always said to get out and get some fresh air.

Listen to your body

You know your body better than anyone, listen to it. More often than not you’re right. If you are tired, rest. If you know you’re just feeling lazy, a short walk in the fresh air will get all your endorphins going and you’ll probably find yourself more motivated as a result. Allowing yourself to feel is really important and we encourage that within Pilates. We cannot separate ourselves out, so whilst we might think the main aim of our work is physical, the emotional and mental benefits will be evident too. If it feels good and right it will always be beautiful. 

over 40 should do pilates

Find a recommended instructor

One of my personal aims is to establish a centre of excellence in the North, because when Pilates is taught properly, it can be life changing. I want to invest in instructors so that many more people can access Pilates in its purest form. You should have complete confidence in your instructor!  Romana’s Pilates has a network of teachers around the globe, as do other classical schools. When searching for teachers and studios in your area, the main things to look out for are class sizes; they should always be small. Ask where the teachers are trained and how long this took them. On average a fully qualified teacher will have been actively in a program for at least 18months, but most are over 2 years. If you are going for an injury, make sure the teacher has experience with this and you are confident. Pilates should always be safe, other than normal muscle working feeling you should never ever feel pain. A matwork class is not suitable for most injuries, you need to be seen privately first before joining a class. Any good teacher will welcome your questions, I am always happy to answer or help someone and quite often get DM’s to our Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/purepilatesilkley ) asking for advice both from clients looking for a teacher or from people starting their journey to become a teacher.

Keep moving

You just can’t beat really simple Pilates mat work done well – if you just did the basic seven exercises, you are definitely going to release endorphins, work out and stand up off that mat with beautiful posture, standing tall and feeling confident. 

Be prepared to throw yourself in

Pilates classes can become your community. It’s not surprising to find yourself laughing and crying in a class, because Pilates is a deep and meaningful exercise, connecting your heart, mind and body; therefore strong bonds are developed and friendships formed. The more you are prepared to invest in yourself and your journey, the more you’ll benefit from a healthy body, a happy heart, and a mind at peace,

over 40 should do pilates

Consider food and nutrition

If I eat well and fuel my body properly, I feel better. Putting the good stuff in means feeling better in every sense. Taking the time to cook and enjoy food, rather than it being a purely functional exercise or eating ‘on the go’ benefits my overall wellbeing too, so that the hard work I’m putting into Pilates is reflected in every part of my life.  

Pilates has the power to restore us to ourselves. Pilates can provide us with an holistic rhythm for life, positively impacting every part of our lives; emotionally, physically, mentally and even socially as our body confidence soars. 

Pilates has taught me that the best way of living is holistic living and I like to think that, when we look after ourselves and one another we all stand to gain.

Romanas Pilates Expert, Kirstin Ferrie, 42 is a passionate Pilates Instructor and the Founder of Pure Pilates, having herself followed a robust journey of training and development having travelled worldwide to learn from the very best; Kirstin is Romanas Pilates trained, following in the footsteps of the creator of Pilates, Joseph Pilates. With over 20 years experience, having taught Pilates around the world she has a long list of impressive clients including well-known names from the worlds of sports and dance, celebrities and royalty. Kirstin is passionate about highlighting the true power of strength-based Pilates for mind, body and soul, working with strength, control and stretch techniques, which ultimately give her clients renewed confidence and agility. To find out more about Kirstin please visit her website or connect with her on Instagram. 

Staying strong and fit in your 40s and beyond

As we move into our forties there is a lot to celebrate! We have seen quite a bit of life, and as a result, we are wiser, more centred, and are ready to conquer the next half of our lifetime. But in the midst of all of this empowerment, our bodies are changing. As our hormones start to fluctuate we can experience disrupted sleep, night sweats, bloating, fatigue, and recurring muscle aches and injuries. Often we feel that despite our exercise and eating patterns not changing, our shapes are, particularly around our middle and this can be disheartening when you are trying to stay strong and fit in your 40s.

What is happening and how can you stay strong and fit in your 40s and beyond?

Your regular menstrual cycle starts to change in your forties where our hormones are in a state of flux, with oestrogen becoming dominant. We start to have more anovulatory cycles, meaning that as an egg isn’t being released, there isn’t the stimulus to produce progesterone, so causing a hormonal discrepancy. This is where we start to feel those confusing changes in our bodies, and the closer we get to the actual cessation of our periods, the worse these become.

How does this affect our training and body composition?

Oestrogen often promotes inflammation. This leads to an increase in total body inflammation, and a poor ability to adapt and respond, with a predisposition to things like iron deficiency, sore joints, puffiness, picking up respiratory tract infections and so on.  We also have a decreased sensitivity to insulin, and how they moderate blood sugar control. This is what can cause that storage of belly fat.

What can we do?

We should approach this as the new, positive chapter in our lives that it is. Women do have the capacity to continue to be strong, powerful and fit in your 40s and beyond. However, if inactive, around 3% of lean muscle mass can decrease each decade from the age of 30. 

But the good news is, it is never too late to start, we just need to look at ways to train and maintain that neuromuscular stimulation and muscle integrity. Here are some key considerations we need to take into account when planning our training so you can stay strong and fit in your 40s:

Lift heavy

We really need to build in some quality resistance training, low-rep heavy weights. Not only does this help with neuromuscular action, it also increases the stress on the bone and helps with bone turnover, increasing or preserving bone density. Here we are looking at exercises like squats and deadlifts, to a maximum of 5 or 6 reps.  Safety is a key factor here of course and you should work with a professional when you are learning to do this to ensure you are lifting correctly.

fit in your 40s

High intensity interval training 

One of the best ways to stimulate muscle production, these short, sharp interval workouts prompt your body to build lean muscle and shrink visceral fat more effectively than a slow burn endurance workout. It also helps your body to process insulin efficiently, making you less prone to insulin resistance, or becoming overweight. These intervals can be built into most types of exercise, from running to cycling, rowing etc and work with very short (20 to 90 seconds maximum) of high intensity exercise, followed by longer recoveries. The good news is that if these are done correctly, the total workout shouldn’t last more than about 30 minutes.

Plyometrics 

These exercises include exercises like jumping, hopping or bounding, or otherwise giving your bones and muscles the extra stimulus that comes when you push off against gravity and land back down. The key here is the multi-directional aspect rather than running, with exercises such as jumping jacks, side hops, skipping and so on which improve muscular strength, bone health, body composition, posture and physical performance.

fit in your 40s

Do less volume and more intensity 

This is the area where a lot of people struggle. The tendency at this time is to push harder and longer to get rid of this newly acquired body fat, but ultimately that backfires, putting you into a state of low-energy, high stress cortisol cycling. Encouragingly, women have that inherent ability to go long because of the sex differences within the muscle enzyme activity, as well as the body being predisposed to endurance. So if you want to keep in those long, social workouts, make them just that, keeping in your lower heart rate zones where you can still hold a conversation.

In summary

All of these specific interventions work to not only to decrease visceral abdominal fat, increase our insulin sensitivity, increase our lean-mass development and the way our muscles fire, they also build stability around the joints. When we do this, we increase the ability of the muscles around the joint to withstand heavy weight and withstand the pressures of lifting and moving through resistance, not only with exercise, but everyday life.

fit in your 40s

Working with a coach

If you are keen to work towards a goal of staying strong and fit in your 40s, or simply be the best version of yourself in your forties and beyond, then it is worth considering working with a coach. Denise Yeats works in a very holistic way, advising on diet and nutrition in tandem with exercise, and constantly listening to her clients and the way they are adapting not only physically, but also mentally to the training she is setting them. 

Denise Yeats is a triathlete and IRONMAN Certified Coach with a passion for personal development of women in the perimenopausal and menopausal stages of their lives. Find out more at www.deniseyeats.co.uk.

The importance of strength training in your 40s

You know it, and I know it. Once we hit our 40s, we just can’t be as carefree about our physical health, can we? Case in point – did you know – did you know that you can lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade in muscle mass once you hit 30. And now that we’re 40….well you can do the maths! Thankfully strength training in your 40s can be your best friend here. So why aren’t more of us doing it during this period of ageing?

The problem is, when we think of strength training, thanks to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and co., we can feel a little intimidated by the concept of strength training. But given the above statistics, it’s time to kick those stereotypes to the curb and get with the programme. Because strength training in your 40s has never been so important.

But why? And how? Fret not friends, I had a little chat with former Olympian Greg Whyte OBE and Her Spirit app (your friendly coach in a pocket) and their Coach2Kilos challenge to give us the low down on everything you need to know about strength training in your 40s.

You can’t stop ageing, but you can slow it

Once you hit 40, you start becoming startlingly aware of the ageing process. But here’s the good news, strength training can actually help slow the ageing process. So how does this work?

According to Whyte, ‘One of the problems with aging is that we lose muscle mass. That is particularly facilitated by the menopause but can actually happen in both men and women. Women, in particular, have this changing hormonal environment, which leads to a reduction in muscle mass with ageing. To some extent, while there is an aesthetic element to that, it’s actually more around the functionality of strength that we lose with that loss of muscle mass. Ultimately, we lose power, and with that what we call our health-related quality of life and eventually the ability to perform activities of daily living, so things like carrying the shopping, doing the gardening, walking upstairs picking up grandchildren or children just become that little bit more difficult.’

You might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you right now, but like with anything in life, what you put in now – in your 40s – is going to feed into your golden years. So if you don’t want things to feel more difficult and less enjoyable as the years continue to roll on, essentially – now is the time to act.

Of course, there is also a vanity element here. Simply put, ‘we can use muscle to change body shape, and make us look better. And so because we look better, we feel better. It’s all of that it’s all runs into improving quality of life.’

The importance of strength training in your 40s

Newbie to strength training? Fret not!

You may be thinking you’ve never done one iota of strength training in your life. Well, strike that! Because we all have, even if it’s unknowingly. According to Whyte it’s just that we need to start viewing strength training differently.

‘It’s all about changing that image of what we believe strength training is. If you’re over 40, you’ll probably remember images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gold’s Gym, Muscle Beach.

I think many of us have this image that strength training is about being a bodybuilder. Well, of course, actually, we do strength training on a daily basis. When we start out from a seated position when we stand up, that takes strength. When we walk upstairs, it takes strength. So all of those activities of daily living actually require strength.

The first thing to always think about is don’t just change your image of what strength actually is, and what strength training looks like. Strength training, in its very simplest form, is anything that resists motion, anything that increases the resistance to motion. So for example, instead of walking on the flat, if you walk up a hill, that could be deemed as being strength training, because there’s a resistance to move.

So it’s about just changing what you see as strength training. Remember that strength is very much part of everyday life. But then, much like it is when you want to improve your aerobic fitness – that we should walk more, and we should be more active – it’s exactly the same with strength, in that if we want to improve our strength, what we have to do is we have to dedicate some time to improving that strength.

Thinking about The World Health Organization guidelines for physical activity for health – which is the same as the Chief Medical Officer’s for the UK – we often talk about this 30 minutes of physical or aerobic activity on most days of the week, so that is at least 150 minutes a week. The advice also includes two dedicated strength sessions a week. So it really is about just making time in your weekly activities to do some dedicated specific strength work.

Putting strength training into practice

So now we all know that we should be doing (at least) two strength training sessions a week, how do we put that into practice? As someone who loves a bit of strength work, I know that it is surprisingly easier and more enjoyable than you might think and Whyte backs me up here:

‘Strength training can be literally anything. The Couch2Kilos challenge, for Her Spirit is just a great example of that. You can strength train at home, on your own in your front room. You don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t have to wear spandex. There are lots of ways in which we can integrate strength exercise into our weekly activities, without actually really going out of our way.

Going to a gym and diving into the strength area can be quite intimidating. So getting that experience and confidence before you take that step is really very important and the Coach2Kilos program is a great place to start. If you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a long time since your last you can modify the exercises and then build progression based upon your experience and what your own personal strength is. The wonderful thing about training is that it’s very easy to track your progress. So it’s actually quite motivating and you can see things like change in posture, how you carry yourself, and therefore the aesthetic change also quite quickly.

The importance of strength training in your 40s


Getting started with strength training

So we’ve sold the idea of strength training to you, but nobody wants to get an injury so what are the do’s and don’t? Whyte says:


‘What’s always important with exercise in general, is making sure that you start at a level, which is commensurate with your own ability. Don’t start off too hard and more importantly, progress slowly because there is a risk to exercise, generally. So what you want to do is avoid injury or in particular, avoid excessive muscle damage. I guess the underlying message here is that it should be enjoyable. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick to it. Progression is probably the most important thing in strength training and that you progress slowly so that you are always working within yourself, but also increasing enjoyment, which will help keep you motivated.’

Finding the joy

Personally I LOVE strength training and get a real kick out ot it. I have personally been taking part in the Coach2Kilos challenge with coach Elle Linton (watch out on our Instagram for more on that!) to try and progress my own ability and it just feels so good when you’re doing it. But why is that and what is going on in your body to make it feel that good? According to Whyte there are two factors at play here:


‘Strength training is incredibly social. It can be high intensity, but a very short duration which means you can be social, and chat, while you’re doing strength training especially during the recovery periods between the exercises, which gives you an opportunity to interact with other people.

The second factor at play is much like any sort of aerobic exercise, strength training elicits the same physiological response inside the body. So what we do is we release happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine which improve mood. They make us feel happier, reduce lethargy and increase vigor. We feel happier and more alive. What you get from strength training is the best of all worlds.’

Time for a snack?

No sorry, I’m not talking about your favourite cookie here! One of the beautiful things about strength training is that you can fit in pretty much anytime, anywhere. In fact, I often do my strength training while I’m cooking dinner or while someone else is cooking dinner, which Whyte also advocates:

‘You can dissect strength exercise down into very small packages and actually snack on the strength training. So it’s something you can just fit in, when you’ve got the time. For example, while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, you can be doing squats. While you’re brushing your teeth, you can do heel raises. Whilst it’s the adverts in a TV break, you can do some press-ups. There is no necessity to do it all at once you can actually spread it across the day.

Fear of bulking up

Maybe you’ve been giving strength training a wide birth due to a fear of bulking up. Well good news because this irrational fear is based on fallacy as I can vouch for as someone that strength trains and is pretty much a bean pole! So why do so many of us have a fear that we’ll end up looking like Arnie? And what really happens instead. Whyte explains:

‘This is an absolute misnomer. It’s a sort of a dogma that resides around strength training which is that as soon as I lift a weight, I’m going to get massive. You would have to you have to train incredibly hard, with very big ways to get what we call hypertrophy, increasing muscle size. The likelihood of becoming large in terms of muscle with strength training is incredibly low.

In addition, when we do it competently, we do it at the same time as aerobic training. So, for example, going for a walk and doing strength after the walk or in whichever order. What that does is dampen the hypertrophy response. So, just by using a mixed method type of exercise, we limit the increase in the size of muscle. The bottom line is that by lifting weights, you are not going to get massive.’

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to future proof yourself and start strength training app. Whether you are a total newbie or looking to just do that little bit more, the Coach2kilos challenge is a great place to start.

Coach2Kilos is currently available to premium members of Her Spirit app at just £4.99 monthly, first 14 days free. Download and sign up here.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, Photo by Andres AyrtonMART PRODUCTION from Pexels