Chances are you’ve heard of Pilates – maybe it was a friend raving about how fun it was or a co-worker telling you their core has never been stronger. Pilates workouts are great and for good reason. The moves are simple, controlled, and technique-focused. Pilates is amazing for those looking to get stronger, more flexible, and in need of low-impact exercise.
One of the best parts about Pilates is that it’s great for beginners as well as advanced practitioners. In addition, you don’t need a reformer machine, which adds resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs which form part of the machine, to do Pilates. Pilates mat classes are very popular and accessible to most. Read on for more details about the who, what, why, where, when, and how of Pilates.
Who Should Take Pilates Classes?
Pilates is great for everybody, but not for everybody. Pilates works in stages, so for those just getting started, it is important to understand that there are many phases and levels for which to strive. This makes it especially great for people who want an extra challenge — not just physically, but also mentally. Pilates is a mind-body workout where concentration on the movements and technique is crucial to reap the most benefits.
What is Pilates?
In 1914, during World War II, Joseph Pilates developed a series of exercises that he claimed would help his students become stronger. The method later evolved into his own system of exercises, which he named Contrology. When Joseph passed in 1967, the exercise system took on his name and became known as the Pilates Method.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, Pilates is defined as “a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.” Based on your budget and preference, you can splurge on the private and / or small group equipment classes, or you can save a little money and work out on the mat. Many Pilates mat classes use small accessories such as magic circles (soft rubber-covered resistance rings), stability balls, resistance bands and light weights to target specific muscles groups and to simulate the work on the Pilates equipment, like the reformer machine.
Pilates is different from a typical fitness routine because it works more than just those large muscle groups. Pilates focuses on strengthening the core, but don’t think you’ll get bored with crunches and sit-ups. In fact, you won’t do any of those in a traditional Pilates class. You will flow from one exercise to another and progressively connect to your core with different poses and exercises. You will learn how to move with your abs scooped in and up. You’ll learn how to control your body and move with more fluidity and ease.
Strengthening your core helps stabilize the body in other ways beyond just your mid section. Having a strong core can help support and protect our internal organs and central nervous system in addition to preventing injury and back pain. Focusing on controlled body-weight movements means Pilates exercises are perfect for those looking for an efficient physical activity. (Athletes, I’m looking at you!)
Where and When Should You Do Pilates Exercises?
At the Village, of course, and whenever you can find a class on the Village app to fit your schedule! There are many different types of Pilates classes to suit a variety of fitness levels and personal preferences, ranging from more controlled slower-paced classes to more rhythmic upbeat classes. There are hybrid classes like Yogalates and Pilates & Bar, for those needing more variety or something familiar to ease into the Pilates Method. All Pilates mat classes are complimentary with a Village membership.
How Should You Begin Pilates?
Regardless of your fitness level, you should not skip any steps when it comes to Pilates. Novice athletes and fitness junkies alike will benefit by finding a Beginner level class and moving up from there. Students will initially learn about the six principles of Pilates — concentration, centering, control, breath, precision, and flow — that will help them overcome personal fitness challenges and achieve their athletic goals as they progress through more advanced levels of Pilates. You will get so much more satisfaction out of any Pilates workout once you know how to apply all the principles. After all, Joseph Pilates said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
About the Author
Rebecca Sirkel has 13 years experience teaching Pilates and holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Arizona State University. She received her com- prehensive Pilates training with Power Pilates in 2006 and the Pilates Method Alliance certification in 2011. In 2012 she became a teacher trainer for Power Pilates and now offers Pilates certifications.
Rebecca continued her education in spinal pathology, spotting and touch technique, Pilates with props, neuromuscular conditions, and super advanced Pilates for athletes. In 2014 she earned a certification with eCornell in plant-based nutrition.