FITNESS – Forget matt Pilates try Scapilates

When we think of posture improvement we instantly think of Pilates as the answer. Pilates was first introduced by its creator Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to help with lower back problems by strengthening the core muscles. Today Pilates is a phenomena with millions of people world wide attending numerous mat Pilates classes. But there is no real evidence to substantiate the claims it makes despite being incredibly popular.   In fact I have witnessed many so called Pilates participants that have very little core activation and core strength and their sense of balance is bordering on laughable, and their postures are still kyphotic. Yes I am sure Pilates isn’t doing any harm and marginally improve strength and definitely flexibility, but to be honest laying on a mat is not going to achieve very much.   We are supposedly active creatures that are meant to be flexing and extending in all directions not just posing on our posteriors doing various breath controls. This is all be compounded by 21st century lifestyle changes, in particular the introduction of the smart phone, and people’s incessant dependence on their usage. Daily, we bare witness the endless trudging through our streets and train platforms, these so called smombies (smart phone zombies) in an ceaseless procession of annoyance, totally oblivious to one and other, and alarmingly totally unaware of what their reprehensible behaviour is doing to their rapidly putrefying bodies.   And is Pilates addressing this issue? A resounding NO! Hence my creation Scapilates!

So what is Scapilates and what’s so great about it?

The past 2 years I have been teaching multiple members at various gyms and I have desconstructed conventional Pilates, Yoga and body weight exercises and reformulated them where the scapular is the focal point and no longer the transverse abdominus. Incredibly by stabilising the scapular first it seems to activate the core muscles more effectively in an unconscious contraction.   When a person picks an object off the floor suddenly, they don’t think oh I must activate my abs and then squeezes my glutes. They just do it. And if they haven’t gotten their muscles firing more instinctively then they are exposed to injury. By getting the body to work focusing on the joint action and then the muscles reacting to that joint movement then it becomes far more efficient and natural. This principle is very much embraced by Vipr. Vipr training is a variety of functional compound exercises using a plastic carriage approximately 6kgs in weight.   But even Vipr doesn’t focus enough on stabilising the scapular merely requesting you to reach from the scapular. So by just simply pulling the scapulars down, an array of various exercises suddenly become more achievable by recruiting your abdominals more effectively but not overloading them unnecessarily.  And with your abdominals no longer overloaded to beyond capacity they can continue to behave in the way they are supposed to, to support us. I simply hate these abs classes some gyms still promote. It’s not only ignorant but darn right dangerous. Doing endless crunches and sit ups does not improve core strength, but has been proven to cause back damage. Yet I still see misinformed fitness trainers with clueless clients doing this ridiculous antiquated and futile style of training. And many fitness institutions still advocate this disturbing approach. Scapilates isn’t a revolution in its approach, it’s a mere tweaking of convention but with revolutionary results. I have women with previous weak cores suddenly able to perform exercises they were unable to achieve, instant relief in the upper traps, less knots around the scapulas, and reduced lower back pain.

The biggest difference between Mat Pilates and my Scapilates is that by stabilising the scapular whilst endeavouring to do conventional Pilates adominal exercises, keeps the spine more in a neutral position, whereas in many Mat Pilates exercises the vertebra gets imprinted down into the mat and the participant endeavours to isolate the lower abs in often a futile effort not to recruit the rectus (upper abs), which many people find very difficult to achieve. This is to help protect the back and get the transverse muscles to fire, but this is not the natural alignment your back ought to be in, in fact its non functional to imprint the back into the ground to help engage the core.  It’s imperative that when picking things off the floor or bending down you keep your back in as possible a neutral stance you can.   And finally one other thing I have notice that since doing my Scapilates exercises I no longer suffer impingement in the supraspinatus ( shoulder rotator cuff) which can be a terrible consequence of heavy bench pressing and causing a tightening of the pec minor.   But not take my word for it, try it out. My taster video is on Youtube under the title of course Scapilates.

Darren Cheers creator of Scapilates