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South African influencer and shuffler Shelley de Villiers shares her experience with you.

South African influencer and shuffler Shelley de Villiers shares her experience with you on the benefit of EnerchiFitness Pilates.

I’ve been doing Pilates 3 times per week for 3 months. The changes I’ve noticed in this short time have been astounding to me! Before I even get into what Pilates has helped me with on the dance side of my life - I’d become a physically stronger dancer. Two of the biggest things I have noticed in my dance is a bit more effortless power in my movement from stronger legs and core muscles. My balance has also improved hugely.

I was a perfect candidate for Pilates (just as everyone else is) because I have a slight curvature of my spine which has caused misalignments both up and down in my body as well as from the right and left-hand sides. One side overcompensates for the other causing intermittent back and neck pain and tension. Along with this I also have hypermobility (this is where my joints overextend) which causes complications and makes some muscles lazy. For example, my knees bend too far back when I am standing up straight, my quads then don’t have to work as hard to hold me up as I am forever relaxing back into that overextension. I never stood correctly until I started doing Pilates with Chi. I now have a better balance between my hamstrings and my quadricep muscles. This translated directly into my dancing. I’ve had to work every single muscle with the correct form, which is changing my imbalances one session at a time. I haven’t needed to go back to the chiropractor once in the past 3 months, or suffered from my usual back and neck pains since starting Pilates. I’ve been going to the chiropractor for a couple of years now for trigger point therapy but since having started Pilates I have no longer had a need to do this.

In such a short time, Pilates has increased my core strength, and made me more aware of my body and my posture. I have become more aware of this misalignment and imbalance in my body during daily habits and routines. This has allowed me to make small changes to my own body leaving me with an empowered feeling. I feel as though I am now more corrected to myself, and this has all led to less pain, better alignment and a feeling stronger overall.

Shuffling as a dance form CAN induce an imbalance as, of course, a lot of the movements involve shifting weight from one leg to the other. We as shufflers tend to have “the strong/dominate leg or foot” which will end up taking most of the hard work. We tend to over-rely on one side - our stronger side - and this just reinforces an imbalance. I now know how important it is to counterbalance. Especially for someone like me who already has complications with alignment and balance from my genetic body structure. I have for a while kind of considered myself to be a bit of a ‘messy’ shuffler, in that I’m not extremely technical and precise - I move more freely and I am more in the moment. Partly because that’s actually what feels most freeing to me. But it’s possible this wilderness in my dance could also partly be due to the body imbalances and misalignments that I’ve always just accepted as part of me. For other shufflers I would definitely recommend exercises to strengthen their overall body strength, as I believe the more strength you have in your leg muscles, the less pressure will be spent on your actual joints and so injuries will not be as prevalent. Making sure that both sides are getting equal training is what is also key.

Core strength is something that will no doubt improve every aspect of shuffling and other dance forms in general. Pilates naturally breeds greater power, effortlessness, balance, tighter spins, and less injury. Everything in me feels more connected - even my mind.

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