At New England Endurance Events, we have become acquainted over the past two years with a unique online service that helps triathletes supplement their training with focused, core strength exercises customized for triathletes. It’s put together by the team at Pilates for Sports. We use it ourselves, and heartily endorse it.

We know, we know…finding time to fit one other thing in on top of swim, bike and run is very challenging. And that was our thought, too, until we realized that after a few weeks of strengthening our core(s) we started performing all three disciplines of triathlon in a way that was smoother, easier and quicker.

In conjunction with Pilates for Sports, we are offering to our athletes a 28-day free trial. That’s free as in: no obligation, no credit card, no hounding after a month is over. All you need to do is to be willing to grab little snippets of your day to get on the floor and give the program a chance.

Kathleen Walker, NEEE race director, talked with co-founder Noeleen O’Shea about the service.

Kathleen: You know it as well as we do: triathletes have so little extra time. How to fit in Pilates?

Noeleen: This is a great question. The benefits really come from consistency and the commitment isn’t great to get the benefits you seek. Here is an approach that works for a lot of our clients:

  • Daily workouts (7-10 minutes): Do our daily short workouts first thing in the morning (these can also be repeated throughout the day if you need a stretch)
  • 15 minute workouts: most people do two of these a week. These are great to do as a warm up before training
  • 30 minute workout: usually once a week. This is great to do on a quiet rest day

Aside from maybe looking better, how does Pilates for Sports help an athlete with swim-bike-run?

The first benefit is the ability to produce more power. I like to use this analogy: picture a cannon on a canoe out in the middle of a lake. Now, if that cannon fires, it won’t be able to shoot very far because the canoe will wobble and capsize…it can’t handle the force of the cannon. if you think of the triathlete’s pedal stroke, swim stroke or running stride as the cannon and their wobbly core is the canoe on a lake, he or she just can’t handle the power produced because of their instability. However, put that cannon on a concrete platform and the result is very different. From that stable base, maximum power can be attained. So a triathlete with a strong and stable core can transfer the maximum force from their swim stroke, pedal stroke or running stride into their swim, bike and run!

The second benefit is reduced injuries. A focused pilates program develops strong, balanced muscles around joints. Over time, it teaches triathletes how to swim, bike and run with good form. The result is improved efficiency of movement with a reduced chance of pain and injury.

How do you select the specific Pilates exercises that are best for a triathlete?

All of our programs are customized to meet each person’s’ needs. When an athlete signs up to the free 28 Day Challenge, they complete a consultation form. Part of the form asks the athlete to tell us about the areas where they experience problems: say, a tight back, tight hips or weak glutes. We ask them to pick an area they’d like to focus on improving first. Based on that information we put together a program to specifically address that person’s unique needs.

Is Yoga similar to Pilates, or an adequate substitute?

I’m biased, of course. Yoga and Pilates are quite different. Pilates focuses on actively engaging your core as you work through your exercises. There are a lot of pilates exercises out there, but we choose the ones designed to improve your performance in triathlon.

Does one vary the intensity/duration of Pilates throughout the year?

We can definitely tailor the intensity based on where you are in your training. Every of our athlete clients has direct access to a Pilates instructor – they can ask questions and have programs modified to fit in with their training levels or how their body is feeling. However, we like to always keep challenging our athletes to improve their core strength and muscle balance.

If someone were to remember just one optimal Pilates exercise, what would it be?

I shouldn’t pick one exercise. In a Pilates workout…even a very short one…you should have some flexion, extension, side bending and twisting. The body is connected, and to improve balance in the body you need to move the body in all of those directions. I do personally love the “mermaid” exercise as it helps to stretch out the neck and shoulders — areas where most of us these days are very tight because we sit in front of computers.

Thanks, Noeleen!

Our New England Endurance athletes can take part in her program for 28 days with no charge. Simply follow this link to learn more and to register. And see how you’re likely to enjoy your workouts more, feel better overall, and be ready for a great 2021 season!