In over 16 years that I’ve been a health and fitness professional, two of the questions people most frequently ask me are,
“What should I do?” and
“How many times a week should I do this?”
In addition to owning a Classical Pilates studio and running a teacher training program for New York’s renowned, Real Pilates, I created an online fitness program so that you could fit 20-30 minutes of movement into your daily schedule.
Consistency and daily repetition bring about changes in the body, whether you are doing Pilates or other types of movement with our on-demand video streaming. In this blog article, I talk about repetition and its role in muscle memory and learning new skills (like riding a bike or doing Pilates) as they relate to more frequent workouts throughout the week.
Motor learning and memory rely on muscle memory. Repetition is the key to transferring muscle memory from short-term to long-term memory. Short-term memories involve functional changes in the neural pathways, whereas long-term memories actually change the structure of the pathways so the muscle memory can be recalled.
Joseph E. Muscolino, global lecturer, author, and manual therapy educator, explains how neural pathways are formed. They are like a stream running down a mountain; if the stream runs a few times after heavy rain but remains dry the rest of the year, the stream bed remains shallow and unstable. If the stream runs heavily day after day, the stream bed becomes deeper and can even evolve into a permanent fixture on the side of the mountain. The same thing happens with neural pathways during the formation of long-term memories.
Repetitio Est Mater Studiorum:
Repetition is the mother of all learning (Study).
A child learning to ride a bike is a great example of repetition aiding the learning process.
“The more attempts a child makes, the more the brain reinforces the particular skills necessary to stay balanced and in motion. After some time, the child doesn’t have to stop and think about each part of the procedure to stay upright, balanced, and in motion, or how to stop without falling off.
Every time the child rides, the skill is reinforced. Even years later, with no additional riding experience, it is possible for a person to get on a bike and ride because it was so firmly encoded in the brain. This is the power of learning by repetition.” from Professional Learning Board
Commitment Achieves Results
The more you practice a new skill, the better your results will be. Healthy movements such as Pilates and functional exercise (which you will find in our Pilates Fit Studio video streaming platform) both rely on muscle, motor, and cognitive memory, all of which are enhanced through repetition. The more you repeat these types of exercise, the more they become “encoded” in your mind and body. These movements will then inform all your various daily activities.
It is through repeated experience of functional exercise that the changes in the body are revealed. Joseph Pilates himself emphasized the importance of repeating his exercises over time and doing them with repetition.
“Study carefully. Do not sacrifice knowledge to speed in building your solid exercise regime on the foundation of Contrology. Follow instructions exactly as indicated down to the very smallest detail.”– Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates was onto something. Besides learning to do his exercises methodically, there is a reason that we need to repeat them on a daily basis! As an added bonus, when you concentrate on the finer details of his instructions, you are working both your body and your brain.
Healthy movement, then, is not only exercise for your body, but a study of movement. Repetition is the key to seeing results in your body. Consistency brings you gains in both your strength and overall health.