What is Pilates?
The Pilates method of exercise consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements, and is named for its creator, Joseph H. Pilates. Born in Germany in 1880, Joseph Pilates developed an early and lifelong interest in body conditioning. While interned in England during World War I, he created a series of exercises and equipment to help people maintain their strength and flexibility during captivity. It is these exercises that form the basis for “Pilates,” which Joseph brought to New York in the 1920s, where it became popular with dancers and performing artists.
Since Joseph Pilates’ death in 1967, experts in the field have continued to build on his original teachings. Incorporating modern principles of spinal research, stabilization, and exercise science, the goal of contemporary Pilates is to develop a body that operates effectively and efficiently in sport and in everyday life. Contemporary Pilates emphasizes the importance of controlled breathing and involves multi-dimensional movement—either on a mat or using resistance equipment—to
Benefits of Pilates
All Pilates exercises emphasize a connection to breathing, alignment of the bones related to good posture, and the balance of the muscles around the joints. When taught effectively, Pilates:
• enhances core strength and stability
• improves posture and alignment
• increases flexibility
• prevents injury
• improves overall strength, tone, and endurance
• relieves stress and back pain
• heightens body awareness
• improves balance and coordination
• enhances athletic performance
Is Pilates right for me? Whatever your age, body type, or fitness level, you can benefit from Pilates. Though Pilates offers a full-body workout, most exercises are low impact, and our experienced instructors work to adapt all movements to your particular needs and abilities. Many clients will experience a feeling of centeredness. As with any exercise program, you should consult with your physician before starting a Pilates program, and be sure to share with your instructor any medical issues you may have.
How should I get started? An initial private lesson, or series of lessons, is an excellent way to prepare for our small group classes, which take place on Pilates equipment. Private lessons provide the ultimate motivation and personal attention and also help us assess your abilities in order to create a customized program for you.
How are the apparatus small group classes different from the mat classes offered at my gym? Both types of classes are based on the founding principles related to alignment and core strength. But our state-of-the-art Pilates equipment uses spring resistance that helps our instructors customize a workout to your ability level—making the exercises easier or more challenging—and to target specific muscle groups and ensure better results. Our limited class size of no more than four students at a time also ensures you are monitored for safety and effectiveness.
What should I wear? Wear comfortable clothing that allows for free movement and that is not overly baggy. It’s important for your instructor to be able to correct your form and ensure you are executing each exercise safely and properly. Socks are optional. No shoes in the studio, please.
Will I get a good workout? Pilates, especially when performed on apparatus, is a full-body workout! Initial classes may be slow as you learn the movements and become familiar with what it feels like to have postural alignment. As you progress, however, the workout can become aerobic and many clients will generate quite a sweat. But while Pilates can be extremely effective on its own, it’s also a great complement to a number of sports, including running, golf, skiing, and tennis. You may start to notice that other forms of fitness become easier and more effective, while your risk of injury also goes down.
Will I be sore after? Feeling sore is highly individual. Some people never feel sore; others always do. Pilates works a variety of small muscle groups, some of which you may be exercising for the first in a long time. If you work hard and with intention, you’ll most likely feel something the following day. Those who have been more sedentary tend to experience greater soreness than those who are very active. But the soreness generally lessens as your practice progresses, and can be minimized by staying hydrated.
Can I do Pilates if I have an injury? Always seek medical attention if you are in pain. After your medical professional gives you guidelines for exercise, we will use those guidelines to develop a safe and effective Pilates program for you. We’re always happy to discuss your particular situation in advance to help you determine if Pilates is a good fit.
How often should I do Pilates? Two to three times a week is ideal, though even once a week can be beneficial, especially if you are able to practice at home between sessions. Your instructor can make suggestions for at-home exercises.
How long before I’ll see or feel a difference? You may begin to feel the difference in your body after a single class. Clients often report leaving a session feeling lighter and more clear-headed. While individual results vary with age, injury, and activity level, the average active person practicing two to three times per week should begin to see results within 10 to 12 classes. Still, we encourage clients to try to think about Pilates as a long-term investment—an exercise that is gentle enough to allow you to practice for years and years but progressive enough to remain effective.