When I tell people I’m a Pilates instructor I get a lot of funny comments. They range from “I love Pilates!” to “I do yoga too!” to “I can’t do that because I’m not flexible” to “oh that’s like water aerobics right?”
Clearly there is some confusion out there regarding what Pilates is, and what it is not. So today I’m going to share the “what, why & how” regarding Pilates.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is an exercise system that was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s. Joseph originally developed his system to help rehabilitate soldiers after the war (which is why some of the apparatus resemble hospital beds). He had tremendous success helping soldiers regain their strength and mobility and so he and his wife eventually took their training to New York where they specialized in dancers, gymnasts, and athletes. Pilates was once an exclusive form of exercise that was only taught in Joe & Clara’s private facility in New York. Thankfully now it is widespread and available to everyone.
Pilates considers how the mind and body are related to both movement and well-being. In a Pilates class you will do a series of exercise that focus on precision, concentration, flow, power, strength, grace, and proper movement. It is proven to improve posture, restore balance to the body, and increase strength and flexibility. It can be done on the mat or on equipment with a trained professional.
Why do Pilates?
Pilates is a very well-rounded form of exercise. Benefits include:
- Increased muscle tone
- Improved flexibility
- Better movement patterns
- Less back pain
- Core strength
- Improved circulation and breathing
- Better coordination
I write a lot on my website about how Pilates has changed my life as a whole. Before I began Pilates I was stressed-out, prone to anxiety, exercising but not physically fit and in need of some help.
It not only changed my body (shape, muscle tone, movement) but also my mind. By taking the time to attend class and connect my body and mind, my quality of life improved. I was less stressed, less anxious, and the nagging pains that had become a part of my daily life disappeared. If you are curious about what Pilates can do for you I encourage you to give it a try.
How to Get Started in Pilates
There are a number of ways you can try Pilates. My top recommendations would be to find a quality studio in your area and sign up for a private session or class.
3 things to look for where searching for a studio:
- All instructors should have gone through 500+ hours of training. This should be stated on the website, if it’s not don’t be afraid to ask (you can also look for PMA certification).
- Choose a studio that is convenient for you. If it’s too far out of the way it will be hard to work into your weekly routine.
- Most studios offer mat classes and equipment classes. Both are great! I suggest you try both or ask the studio where they recommend you start out.
If you are unable to make it to a studio, then there are a variety of online options these days. Online classes are the new DVD’s. I regularly post workouts on YouTube and run online programs throughout the year for those who aren’t able to get to a studio on a regular basis. (psst: I’m offering a 6 week online Pilates program on my website starting 11/11!) A quick google search will also bring up some great options.
So there you have it. The What, Why & How of Pilates. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!