Midori Ozaki began practicing Pilates in 2014 at the age of 60. Seven years later, Midori is able to perform advanced Pilates exercises on the Cadillac, a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, let alone a 67-year-old.
Midori was also inspired to start exercising regularly for the first time in her life after seeing her own mother struggle with physical mobility issues.
“When my mother got older, she had a bad leg and couldn’t walk very easily. She had a hard time. Seeing her go through that, I knew I had to make a lifestyle change in order to avoid that from happening to me and so that I could continue walking and moving comfortably and independently forever,” Midori says.
“When Mami became a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor, she conducted a postural analysis on me. I was surprised to learn how distorted my posture was and how imbalanced my muscles were. Mami started teaching me right away.”
Programming and teaching Pilates exercises to seniors
When Mami started teaching Pilates for seniors, she was hesitant about programming physically demanding Pilates exercises.
“However, I discovered that their bodies could adapt just as well as any young person’s body. I learned that if they had confidence, were motivated and had no muscular problems, they could try any Pilates exercise I taught them,” says Mami, now a Merrithew Instructor Trainer.
“They were so happy to be able to move more smoothly and to see physical improvements after each session. Teaching Pilates for seniors has been such a wonderful opportunity,” Mami says.
Benefits of Pilates exercises for seniors
There are many benefits of Pilates for seniors. It can help seniors improve and develop:
- Full-body flexibility, mobility and stability
- Core strength and control
- Posture and alignment
- Effective breathing
- Coordination and balance
- Mind-body connection and awareness
“In older adults, physical fitness directly influences functional independence. Physical activity is considered as one of the most important health indicators yielding benefits for all the major groups of age, especially older adults,” states this academic article in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity.
Midori experienced that first-hand. Before starting a regular Pilates practice, she had a lumbar hernia which caused her a lot of pain and made it difficult for her to sit for long periods of time.
Now, as a result of her Pilates workout plan, she is pain-free and in good physical condition. This has also improved her mental health and physical self-confidence, she says.
“The body can be trained and changed no matter your age. If you continue to exercise for a long time, you will better understand and connect to your mind and body. Now I can do Pilates exercises on the Cadillac at a great height, my legs feel lighter and I enjoy walking more. I have greater range of motion in my arms and my body alignment and posture have improved.
“Even at my age, my body is changing in positive ways on a daily basis thanks to Pilates,” Midori says.
For Mami, teaching her mother Pilates and seeing her excel has made her even more proud of her work and purpose as a Pilates instructor.
“As a daughter, I want my mother to stay healthy forever. I am very happy and proud that teaching Pilates can play a part in that. By meeting my mother for regular Pilates sessions, I’ve also noticed the positive changes in her physical condition and mental health.
“This year, our goal was to get her to do the ‘tuck into flexion and extension’ exercise on the Cadillac. The process of having a shared goal and helping her work towards this has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying for me as a Pilates teacher and a daughter.”