Pilates builds core strength and conditions the entire body.
The original method was developed by Joseph Pilates and has since evolved into many different styles referred to as Modern or Contemporary Pilates. Given the variety of styles being taught, it’s difficult to say exactly what you might experience but the basic principles of the practice can provide some insight into how closely the workout follows the Pilates method. Classes that follow the principles and include exercises from other disciplines are considered to be modern forms of the practice.
Breathing: If you’re new to the practice, an instructor will probably start by reviewing the breathing. Your breath should expand your ribs latterly as it fills the back portion of your lugs and then is “rung out” with the exertion of the movement. The exertion is the contraction or shortening of the core muscle even though exhaling with the lengthening of the muscle might feel more natural.
Control: All movements are done to work against gravity and are to be done without momentum. The speed of the class will vary from instructor to instructor and the focus of the class or session.
Low Repetition: Most exercises are done with less than 10 repetitions and focus on precise form. It takes some work and practice to get the form but there are modifications for each exercise.
Transitions: The movements from exercise to exercise can be rather graceful and make the practice feel almost like a performance. The transitions are part of the practice because they help build strength and stamina.
Concentration: Pilates is a mind body practice. It requires focus to make the connections between your breath and movement as well as the connections in your body needed to do the exercises without momentum.
Breath: If you don’t get the Pilates breathing right away, just remember to breath.
Modify: Doing a modified version of exercises right is better than doing the full expression of the exercise wrong. If you can’t maintain the form – modify.
Enjoy it: Even when the class is challenging you in new ways, try to keep your attitude light. One of our instructors used to tell the class we were auditioning for Cirque de Soleil so you can only imagine what we might have been doing at the time and the giggles that ensued.
What to Expect
Class Size: Most classes at studios are limited to 4-8 people especially if the class is being taught on Pilates equipment. Mat classes at gyms and community centers are generally larger.
Mat Classes: Many mat classes use props including foam rollers, magic circles, balls and exercise bands to help you build strength and lengthen your muscles.
Instruction: It takes time to learn the breathing, exercises and equipment. Fortunately, there is no rush. Pilates is a discipline that you can practice for life. It will keep the spring in your step.