7 Fitness Lessons We Learned From Pilates Pro Sania Sheikh

What exercises are best to do during pregnancy? What’s the fastest way to get a flat stomach? We ask Google questions like these too often for our own comfort. We usually turn up with the same dull, unhelpful answers, too. We want to cut through the white noise and get to the facts, quick. Women mean business, and that means we don’t have the time to come up with our own workout regimens on the fly. We need reliable fitness, and the only way to get that is to consult a professional trainer. We headed to the The Pilates Lab and got our queries answered by the founder of the lab, Sania Sheikh. Here’s everything we learnt from this celebrity favourite fitness trainer.

1. Right Age To Try Pilates

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise aimed at strengthening the muscles, along with improving postural alignment and flexibility. What makes pilates a favourite of many is how it is suitable for all ages. Kids, teenagers, adults – everyone can benefit from it. In fact, starting pilates from a very young age can serve long term advantages. According to Sania, pilates is good for everyone between ten to a hundred.

2. Losing Thigh Fat

Most people have a few problem areas where they tend to store extra fat in comparison to the rest of their body. This usually depends on a persons body type, their gender, and hormones. For many women it’s their thighs. Thigh fat is very stubborn but you can always lose it with the right exercises. According to our expert, lunges are a great way to lose weight around thighs. She guides us with the right way to do lunges: step your back foot forward and go down at a  90 degree angle. Then repeat the same with your right foot for a number of repetitions.

3. The Case Of Belly Fat

It is no secret how one balances the calories they eat versus the energy they burn. Eating too much and exercising too little is most likely the reason for belly fat accumulating. Many women may also notice an increase in belly fat as they get older, especially after menopause. This is mainly because of changing hormone levels. A member of Pilates Lab, Emaan Dharani says, “losing belly fat is all about diet.” She suggests focusing on target exercises like abs and a lot cardio as it can help lose belly weight. Avoiding sugar, cutting down on carbs, and having a high-protein diet is an ideal diet for losing belly fat.”

4. Safest Prenatal Exercises

Maintaining a regular exercise routine while being pregnant keeps women more active and helps them stay healthy, as well as keeps their mood swings in control. However, women expecting should avoid opting for rigorous workouts. Instead, go for the most comfortable exercises. Sania shared her three best exercises for expecting women. According to her, the safest one women can do during their pregnancy is planks, because it puts less pressure on the spine than any other dynamic exercise. Other than that, she also recommends bicep and tricep curls.

5. The Myth Of Bulking Up After Lifting Weights

Weight lifting isn’t just for men – it’s got a ton of benefits for women too. Not including it in your workout routine is a terrible mistake to make. Not only does it strengthen your bones, but also burns fat and increases lean muscle mass. Lifting weights in no way contributes to getting bigger. However, using weight lifting as an excuse to eat more may land you in trouble. According to Emaan, girls bulking up by lifting heavy weights is the biggest myth. She says, “bulking up only happens if your calorie intake is in excess, and you eat much more protein than your body needs.”

6. Reformer Pilates — The Best For Stretching

When it comes to pilates, no piece of equipment is more popular than the pilates reformer. A number of exercises can be done on the reformer. From overall strength building, to flexibility, to coordination and balance, the reformer encapsulates everything that makes pilates great. When it comes to stretching, our expert is also a big fan of the reformer. “Reformer Pilates is really good because it’s half strength and half stretch. It’s excellent to stretch your body out,” says Sania.

7. Plank — The Exercise To Swear By 

If there’s one bodyweight exercise that will always get you where you want to be, it’s planks. They are one of the most effective exercises for your core. Fitness guru Sania also believes planks are the best exercise. She says, “one exercise I swear by is a plank.” She goes on to explain the right way of doing it: start by lifting your knees up and push out into a plank. Then push out your arms and maintain a straight body posture.

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