Movement & Exercise - Finding What Works For You

Claudia Criswell is a registered nutritional therapist, Health Coach & Pilates Instructor

Claudia Criswell, Nutritional Therapist

It's been a long few months since our New Years Resolutions, and we are determined to continue to be kind to ourselves and move our bodies in a way that feels right for us.

With that in mind, we chatted to Claudia Criswell, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Health Coach and Pilates Instructor, about all things exercise!

Exercising - its such a big topic with so many misconceptions and questions - what should we be doing, for how long, how many times a week. How do you go about tackling this topic?

Funnily enough, I was chatting to a client about this yesterday discussing the common view that unless you exercise for an hour it's 'not worth it' - which is completely untrue and often puts people off from even trying anything. We are leading more and more sedentary lifestyles and what has been shown to benefit our bodies the most is regular movement throughout the day - taking regular breaks from your desk, stretching every hour throughout the day - instead of attending a 45 minute class in the morning and then sitting down for the rest of the day. Your body will thank you for it!

There are so many different forms of movement out there and the most important element is that you enjoy it. It is so much harder to motivate yourself to exercise if its something you dread. Therefore finding something you enjoy and allocating time regularly throughout the week is an amazing place to start!

Claudia Crisswell  doing Pilates

For me, I genuinely look forward to 20-30 minutes of Pilates each day, whether it's a more dynamic class or a stretchy flow. I used to be a huge tennis fan but was recently introduced to padel and have become completely addicted and love playing it a few times a week. One of the many benefits of living in Edinburgh is the ability to walk everywhere and I love exploring the city on foot. As I work from home a lot, it enable me to catch up on podcasts, voice notes, calling friends and family too.

If you're looking to start moving more, I'd recommend starting with something you enjoy or think you might enjoy. Bringing a friend along with you or having an accountability partner can be super helpful to get going - especially on the days you feel like you really can't be bothered. I'd also recommend setting yourself realistic and achievable goals. For example, rather than start the week intending to go to 4 classes or go to the gym 5 times, start with 10 minutes and gradually build up from there.

Pilates has obviously been hugely popular for years however seems to be going through a major resurgence again - or maybe it's just our Instagram algorithm? What are the main benefits of Pilates?

Pilates is an incredibly healing practice. I actually came to it through a back injury that left me unable to move for a month. I'm now stronger than I've ever been before and am able to live pain free through implementing a consistent Pilates practice - it's been a game changer. I love how connected I feel to my body and the way the movements feel in my body.

Pilates is a form of low impact, mindful movement that concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on posture, balance, core strength and flexibility. I love that it is suitable for all ages and you can adapt all movements to suit all levels from beginner to advanced.

As well as feeling more connected to your body, a regular Pilates practice can provide huge transformations in your mental and physical strength, as well as posture, mobility and flexibility. These can all help alleviate any pains and niggles your may have throughout the body. 

lady practicing pilates

It also compliments and enhances other forms of movement and many of my CC Studio members have found it has enhanced their running/strength/athletic ability in other sports, as well as preventing injury.

All you need is 15-20 minutes a day to notice a difference in your mood, energy, strength and mobility. As Joseph Pilates used to say - "In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference and in 30, you'll have a whole new body." I fully believe that everyone would benefit from trying Pilates.

Why is it better than other forms of exercise?

I wouldn't necessarily say it is better than any other forms of exercise - there are so many amazing ways to move your body - but Pilates encourages you to build strength and move with the correct alignment which enables you to move and feel better every day.

I see so many people who've tried weights, gym classes etc who injure themselves as they aren't moving in a safe way or don't have the core strength to support the movements they try. Pilates teaches you how to move and encourages you to work muscles in the most effective way to support your physical health, build strength and prevent future injury.

I also love that you can do it anytime, anywhere. All you need is a mat (or comfy floor/rug) and some comfy clothes to move in. Whether you've got a busy work week, you're travelling or on holiday, you can continue to enjoy a regular Pilates practice (5-40 minutes) and experience the life changing physical and mental benefits each day.

Due to the low impact and mindful movement elements of Pilates, it doesn't spike cortisol levels in the same way that some more high intensity forms of exercise can. It also doesn't require a fancy or expensive gym membership which makes it more accessible. 

Claudia Criswell in workout clothing

Whether you are just getting into exercise, wanting to get back into moving your body, or you are looking to enhance other forms of movement you enjoy, Pilates will make such an effective addition into your lifestyle.

Where to start and how?

Come and join us and my amazing community in CC Studio, my online Pilates and Nutrition platform. There are SO many different classes ranging from 5-40 minutes suitable for all levels. I also run different challenges each month with more regular live classes. We've just kicked off the April 'Fall in Love with Pilates Challenge' which is fantastic!

If you are interested in in-person sessions, I'd recommend looking into studios near you and trying their intro offers to see what you think. Alternatively, there are so many YouTube videos you can try for free to see if you might like to continue!

Claudia Criswell sitting in window with white shirt

Claudia Criswell is a registered nutritional therapist, health coach and pilates instructor based in Edinburgh.

Having suffered with crippling digestive symptoms, anxiety and disordered eating habits in the past, she understands first-hand how powerful and transformative nutrition and lifestyle interventions can be in supporting overall mental and physical health.

Since founding Claudia Criswell Nutrition, her and her team have supported hundreds of clients to feel happier and healthier everyday in a sustainable way.

Claudia  Crisswell sitting on bench