Pilates for Babies
In terms of the latest fitness trends, fads and crazes, something new is always just around the corner. New developments and programmes seem to spring up as rapidly as others seem to disappear. It’s not hard to see why fitness professionals and app developers chase mainstream success so voraciously. Especially considering the popularity of something like CrossFit – which is simultaneously popular worldwide, while also feeling quite exclusive for those that participate. Another road to take for a new programme or trend is to carve out a niche and reach a previously untouched market.
A new app called ‘Playlates’ attempts to straddle the line between the two, capitalising on the popularity of Pilates, while targeting an audience of new parents and babies. Playlates was created by Nathanael Buckley, a father from Sydney, who owns his own Pilates studio. He’s also taught fitness classes home and abroad for the last 15 years. In terms of credentials and experience, he has both in abundance. It’s this knowledge that he’s levering in order to break from convention. He explains the inspiration behind an app that focuses on Pilates exercises for babies after realising he didn’t have the time to take his daughter to a playgroup: “I was frustrated… So I started making activities for my daughter Phoebe and I based them on Pilates, but modified for babies”. Sound reasoning, but does it have a place in the market?
Unlike most exercise programmes for adults, Nathanael wasn’t aiming to achieve a particular weight loss or fitness goal with the app, but rather foster a stronger father-daughter bond. He says: “When you hear people talking about fitness or exercise, you think it’s going to be hard work and people say, ‘It’s crazy to make my baby work like that’… But it’s not hard, it’s fun”. As is the same with the Pilates practice for adults, other goals of the app are to improve core stability and balance. This, in turn, could help them through key developmental milestones such as crawling and walking.
Nathanael also hopes that stay-at-home parents will use the app as a more fulfilling way to the pass the time: “Spending time with your babies is great, but the days can feel quite long. Once you’ve gone through all of the songs and toys and rhymes, often you still have 8 hours left in the day.”
The benefits of Pilates for adults include reduced stress levels and rehabilitation, clearly things that a baby or young child will not be concerned with. However, experts in the field seem to be behind the idea of the app.
Julianne Pegler is the head of the Australian Physiotherapy Association and when asked about Playlates, she said it was a great idea. However she did urge parents to naturally err on the side of caution: “Whether it be physio or medical or exercise advice, it’s often better to learn it in person because every baby is different and develops at a different rate.”
Paediatrician and neuro physiotherapist, Mary-Anne Xenitelis, took a slightly more grounded stance about the app’s positioning as ‘Pilates for babies’: “I think it’s just children’s development and posture. It doesn’t look like pilates, it looks like strengthening techniques for babies.”
Performing exercises with babies is nothing new, but the app does provide an easy and convenient way to do so with your child from the comfort of your own home. As with any form of exercise, particularly when it involves young children or babies, it’s of paramount importance that you consult your doctor before attempting anything new.