How to Prepare for a Pilates Class

Are you planning to soon join a Pilates class? Be warned that walking into any Pilates studio could be daunting, especially if it is your first time. You would notice a variety of very odd-looking contraptions, which you could logically infer as ‘Pilates machines.’ Never worry. Whichever studio you go to, there surely would be a knowledgeable and friendly staff or personnel who would accommodate and orient you to Pilates sessions.

So how could you prepare for your first ever Pilates class? You might be truly excited. There is no need to be nervous or to be embarrassed. Beginners are always welcome to join such classes. Here are practical tips that would help you overcome your first-time jitters.

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What you should bring

Remember that you do not need to take with you much when you drop by any Pilates studio. Generally, the studio provides every equipment and material you would need for the workout. However, you may prefer to workout using your own mat.

Pilates mats are commercially available in various stores. You should be lucky enough to learn that your studio might actually be selling such items. Take note that such mats are usually made a bit thicker than any conventional yoga mat. Ask your instructor about his recommendations before you purchase your Pilates mat.

It is important to make yourself properly hydrated prior to starting the workout. Thus, you would still need to carry with you a water bottle. You would not need to guzzle water during the workout just like what you usually do on your aerobic and cardiovascular workouts. But you certainly would feel a little thirsty at the middle of the session so keep a water bottle handy.

What to wear

You should not dress to impress when attending a Pilates class. It is very important that you make sure your clothes are comfortable. Wear outfits that would enable you to make movements and to fully stretch. Loose clothes are fine, but keep away from baggy clothes. The instructor should be able to see your body during the workout to see if your alignment is correct during movements.

Baggy clothes may tend to be too revealing especially because there are certain movements that are very complicated. As for the footwear, take note that Pilates should be done barefoot. There is no need to buy and wear fancy and fashionable shoes.

Avoid wearing excess accessories. Belts, long necklaces, and dangling bracelets are not only distracting; they could also pose dangers especially if they get caught up in the Pilates equipment. You surely would not want to strangle yourself. Also make sure your hair is tied back so it would not fall into your face and cause discomfort. You may also opt to wear hair bands. There would be no problem if your hair is cut short.

One last advice: do not wear strong perfumes and deodorants before going to the Pilates class. This is because many people are simply sensitive to strong scents. You need to be considerate of others.

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Exercise Tasks in Pilates

Pilates is truly one of the popular physical fitness systems nowadays. Many gyms and fitness centers are now rolling out or offering Pilates classes for members. Pilates aficionados would certainly assert that the system is really helpful in providing balance for the body and the mind.

As years go by, mankind’s lifestyle is fast changing. Contrary to the lifestyles of ancient people who are more inclined to physical labor, today’s generation is different because most existing jobs nowadays are stationary in nature. Thus, people need to do other activities like exercises to keep their blood flowing smoothly, to burn calories, and to flex those muscles for resistance.

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But just like all other special physical exercises, Pilates has its own set of style and mechanics. To be able to acquire and maximize the full benefits of the activity to the body, it would be advisable if you would be knowledgeable of the special tasks and body positions when conducting Pilates. Just like in all exercises, coordination of physical stress and breathing is the key to effectiveness of the exercise.

Footwork in Pilates

To begin with, you must observe proper posture and procedure when doing footwork in Pilates. Be aware of the recommended first position before you proceed to start the Pilates exercise session. You could choose to try out ‘the monkey on a branch,’ which is a relaxing initial footwork position.

However you want to start your Pilates session, it is important that you make sure your heels are in parallel position. Your toes must also be parallel to each other. Doing so would enable you to easily do an internal rotation, which would be necessary in some part of the exercise.

There are also lunges exercises that are incorporated in modified form in Pilates. Examples are the calf raises, where the leg muscles are exercised and flexed. You could also put your body weight to a single leg on your heel or your toe.

Supine positions in Pilates

Other than the footwork, you should also be aware of the different supine or lying positions when doing the exercise. Such exercises really would help the body achieve total relaxation. Take note that while the body is in the relaxed state during supine positions, movements still are energy consuming to achieve benefits of a regular exercise.

Such positions include ‘Chicken Wings’ (for the arm portion of the body), ‘Lat Pulls’ (for the lateral region of the body), ‘Angels’ (similar to Chicken Wings that target the chest and arm regions), ‘The Hundred’, ‘Frog Extensions’ and triceps exercises during Pilates. ‘Levitation Verite’ is also among them, as well as short spine stretch.

If you want to attain the full benefits of the supine positions, you must make sure there is full coordination of the overhead portion of the body and the back. Breathing is of course, another important factor.

Rowing movements

Rowing movements in Pilates include ‘Hug a Tree’, ‘Salute’, ‘Modified Front Rowing’, ‘Front Rowing’, ‘Round Back’ and ‘Flat Back Hinge’. Executing such exercises would really help maximize and attain the intended overall effects to the body of Pilates.

If you would take time to get to know Pilates and its benefits better, you would surely understand and be able to attain the advantages of doing the exercise system on a regular basis. This will ultimately lead to better health.

 

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Should Pilates Classes Use Music?

Pilates classes are very popular these days. Most gyms and fitness centers offer regular Pilates sessions that are guided and facilitated by fitness professionals. In reality, it is very different from all other fitness sessions. But many individuals do not readily identify that difference especially when their Pilates sessions use music. Some Pilates experts do not use music while others make it a point to feature productive tunes to make participants more inclined to do the tasks.

Should Pilates classes use music? It is considered a matter or preference whether a facilitator/ instructor would use music or not in every Pilates class. There are specific times when music would help in making the session more effective, though there would also be instances when it would just serve as a form of unnecessary distraction. Professionals should know when music should be used in their Pilates sessions.

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For classes that involve mostly beginners, music could be used sparingly. This is because when people are relatively new to the program, it could help them attain and maintain interest if there is an appropriate music or tune that comes with the basic Pilates movements. However, in some instances, music is omitted especially when the instructor wants to make sure participants would listen to and understand specific Pilates movement instructions.

A competent and effective Pilates instructor would ensure that participants focus on keeping proper posture alignment, breath control, and stability. S/He should also make sure the students maintain a neutral spine or lying position. In this regard, it would help if music used would not use catchy tunes and interesting lyrics. Thus, most instructors prefer to use meditative music to prevent the participants from focusing instead on the lyrics.

For advanced Pilates students/participants, music could be used as an effective strategy to attain and support smooth movement. The right choice of music to be used is important as it could be significant and vital to ensuring a smoother flow of movements. The good flow of sound could also help keep the movements become more targeted.

However, when using music during Pilates classes, make sure you avoid using heavily rhythmic music. This is because such tunes could only encourage and prompt the class to unnecessarily choreograph Pilates movements just to keep up a tempo. In general, the Pilates class members should be able to move more naturally so they could be enabled to move at a strategic pace that would suit their bodies with their individual variations.

Overall, music could surely enhance any Pilates session or class. For people who have become very familiar to Pilates movements, music could be a form of further enhancement to achieve more harmony between movements and breathing. For beginners, music should definitely take a back-step because such participants could only be unnecessarily distracted.

Doing Pilates without music could also be effective especially if you do the movements on your own. But for classes, meditative or strategic music could certainly be of great help. Instructors should take their choice of music to be used as another challenge.

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Choosing a Pilates Instructor

Pilates is a highly detailed and scientific system of exercise. You should strive to learn from a Pilates teacher who genuinely understands the program and who effectively communicates with students. This is crucial because you certainly need to learn the basics well. You would not be able to attain the benefits from Pilates if you would not be able to learn doing the methods correctly.

Needless to say, there is an importance in choosing a highly qualified and competent Pilates instructor. Most Pilates studios make sure their teachers are qualified and are effective. However, there would surely be cases wherein a qualified and well-seasoned instructor may not be effective in handling beginners. You might not like the teaching style of a teacher.

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So how could you choose the best Pilates instructors around? It would be helpful if you would checkout the following checklist. Make sure you evaluate the instructor very well before, during, and after the class. You have found a good Pilates teacher if you answer ‘yes’ to all or most of the following.

  1. Is the instructor a duly certified Pilates teacher? Before you enlist in a class, you have the right to check the credentials and the certifications of the instructor. If he/she has one, make sure the certification program is full and is credible. Take note that Pilates is an in-depth exercise system. Appropriate certifications should be required in instructors.

  2. Does the teacher greet the class before the session? It would help if the instructor has a positive and pleasant personality. Every Pilates class should be treated like an actual customer-service transaction. S/He should be approachable enough so you would not hesitate to ask questions.

  3. Are the instructions clear? It is important that the teacher give out clear and non-confusing directions and instructions. In any way, you should learn the proper way of doing things.

  4. Is the instructor giving closer attention to students? Are you attaining individual attention? A good Pilates teacher cares about his students. He should make sure everyone is doing movements correctly. Thus, during the session, he should get attention of students who are doing the movements wrongly.

  5. Is the instructor confident, professional, and knowledgeable? You surely would not want to be under a teacher who lacks self esteem and who is unsure about what he is doing. He should be able to explain points and answer every important and relevant question from anyone in the class.

  6. Have you enjoyed the Pilates class? If you did, you would certainly notice that you feel good after the session. It is important that you enjoy the class.

  7. Do you have rapport with the instructor? If you do, that teacher surely also has good links with the others. There should be no communication problem during the session.

  8. Do you feel motivated overall by the instructor? You should. A teacher who fails to motivate his class should not be teaching Pilates at all. It is important that an instructor be able to convince the class to do well and keep on going.

 

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Benefits of Attending Regular Pilates Classes

They say doing physical exercises regularly is good for the health. However, you might find strenuous physical fitness programs as very tiring and exhilarating. If you want to take it slowly, surely, and relaxing, you should instead attend regular Pilates classes.

For sure, the gym or the fitness center nearest your address is offering regular Pilates sessions. Sign up now and have the following benefits that are reaped by people who regularly do Pilates exercises. Here are the top benefits of attending regular Pilates sessions.

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Increased stamina and strength

Pilates is working primarily on the core muscles of the body. The movements strategically target muscles in the stomach, the back, and the pelvic region. In the process, performing Pilates exercise movements not only helps correct body posture; it also increases overall stamina and strength of the body. What is more liked by many people is that as Pilates increases stamina and strength, it does not add to any bulk. It is most preferred by people who aim to get leaner.

Prevention of injuries and speeds up recovery

Because of Pilates’ low-impact nature, medical practitioners and doctors recommend attending Pilates classes especially to patients who are on the way to recovery from back injuries. Whiplash and many other forms of sports-related problems and injuries could be prevented and cured as Pilates movements strengthen core muscles so that the body would gain a more correct body posture. This is the reason why many fitness and sports icons love Pilates, including sports superstar David Beckham.

Improved body balance and coordination

Attending regular Pilates classes could help you improve your body balance and physical coordination. This is because the exercise routines in the program have been designed to realign the spine and at the same time strengthen the core muscles. In this way, the body is reinforced and any form of injury is effectively prevented.

Relaxation and decreased stress levels

In its own way, Pilates could help anyone understand his or her own body as well as how it functions. This understanding would make it much easier for you to strategically fight the stress and release the tension coming from modern living. Many regular Pilates participants could attest that attending the sessions really help them overcome the stress and tension so they could attain overall and much-needed relaxation after a long day at work.

Gain of more benefits painlessly

You surely have been told that there would be no gain if there would be no pain in attaining a good physique and better health. It is not necessarily applicable if you are regularly attending Pilates classes. That is because the exercise program is low-impact and is a gentle form of exercise program that includes ample stretching without applying stress on joints and muscles.

Overall, you need to regularly attend Pilates sessions or classes. To further encourage you to do Pilates on a regular basis, it would be advisable if you would sign up in lively and large sessions. You could go to the same class attended by your peers, colleagues, or officemates.

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Pilates for Weight Loss

These days, weight loss is a major issue that almost everyone is concerned about. That is because the sedentary lifestyle is catching up and making obesity part of modern living. Unfortunately, beauty and sexiness are often linked with having a fit and slim physique. Thus, weight loss is considered as very important for a person’s overall appearance and confidence. Liposuction is very popular these days as a form of instant and effective weight loss. But for people who do not like the idea of undergoing surgical procedures, Pilates could be a good surgery-free alternative.

Pilates is a form of an exercise program that was developed by a physical fitness guru named Joseph Pilates during the height of the World War I. It is an exercise program that was developed to focus on flexibility and core strength. Specifically, the exercise program could bring about more ideal muscle tone that in turn could lead to a ‘taller and streamlined’ appearance. The tasks involved in the exercise could help you engage your core muscles (comprising of abdominal) and inner back muscles (especially those in the mid-back and lower back section). Thus, it could help you improve your overall posture, keep your back stronger, and attain a better posture.

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What people usually like about Pilates is that it does not require too much. The tasks could be done right at the comfort of your very own home. You may use a half-inch thick mat or just the floor. The exercise routines could take just several minutes to complete. You do not need any special equipment or tools. This is because the program is much focused on overall and targeted body movements. You could learn Pilates in many ways: through instructional videos and manuals or through guidance from experts or class facilitators.

Pilates is an exercise that is designed strategically for both men and women from all ages. The benefits are derived from the basic movements. When you do a Pilates movement, you are subjecting your body to a range of motions. There is no need to force the body to go further beyond what it could comfortably handle. The movements may be slow but they are more effective in burning stored calories. Proper and recommended pattern of breathing also helps make the exercise tasks more effective and relaxing. Overall stance is improved as well.

Not only does Pilates tone abdominal muscles. It is also effective in reducing back pains and lowering the chances for development of osteoporosis, especially in aging women. Combined with several other forms of cardiovascular exercises, Pilates could do a great wonder in losing those unlikely excess pounds at the shortest time possible. If you are aiming to lose those flabs that make your tummy area look awkward, you should strive to do Pilates exercise routines regularly. Pilates could also be considered as a mind and body exercise due to its highly targeted resistance in every movement. The exercise program is recommended for everybody, especially athletes, dancers, and obese people.

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The Six Principles of Pilates

Pilates has always been noted as among the trendiest and most effective exercise programs around. It is currently one of the most popular fitness programs not just in the United States but in many countries across all continents. Among the best selling points of Pilates is that it works very well for a great range of people. It is popular among dancers, athletes, women, seniors, and even expecting moms. What makes the program effective?

There are six main principles that serve as important components or factors in a good Pilates workout. The method has always highlighted quality instead of quantity. Thus, unlike most other exercise systems, Pilates does not require numerous repetitions for every movement. Here are the six Pilates principles so you could better understand the philosophical foundations of the program.

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Centering

In general, Pilates physically brings the focus of the entire exercise to the body’s center, which is considered as the powerhouse area. It is located in between the pubic bone and the lower ribs. Thus, you may notice that the exercise movements are energetically and strategically sourced from that center. This makes the program effective in focusing at the core.

Concentration

Unlike other exercise programs, Pilates methods require your full attention. The movements are not repetitive. You have to focus to be able to go on with the flow. Experts assert that if you would bring your full attention to Pilates movements and do them with your full commitment, you surely would attain maximum value and benefits from doing the program. Pilates could also serve as a practical test on how well you could control and target your focus.

Control

You would notice that every movement in Pilates should be done using complete muscular control. The methods are strategically developed to make sure no part of the body is left uncontrolled and missed out. To be able to attain the benefits, you have to learn how to control your movements and the pacing of the routines. It is like observing proper and correct form when exercising.

Precision

Awareness is effectively sustained throughout every movement in Pilates. Take note that there is an appropriate alignment in relation to body parts, placement, and overall trajectory for every muscle. The key to doing the methods in Pilates is in precision. Every movement should be performed correctly.

Breath

Joseph Pilates, the physical trainer who developed Pilates methods, emphasized the use of full breath when carrying out his exercise routines. He advised people to think of the lungs as bellows, which should be used strongly enough to pump air in and out (fully) of the body. Thus, you would notice that most Pilates movements are coordinating with the breath. Remember that breathing properly is a very integral part of Pilates.

Flow

Do the Pilates exercise program in a seemingly flowing manner. There should be grace, fluidity, and ease when doing every movement. If you do so, you would feel that the energy of the exercise is connecting with all the parts of the body and is flowing throughout the body in a very even way.

 

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Brief Look at Pilates Movements

It is just logical that Pilates is currently one of the most popular exercise programs. More and more people are getting into it because of the health and physical benefits it provides. Other than that, peer influence is also one important factor that helps make the popularity of the exercise program further rise.

Pilates involves a great deal of physical discipline. A person needs to be properly motivated to be able to conduct the tasks involved. The activity is also very relaxing. Many people assert that Pilates helps them achieve overall relaxation after a long day of work. Through proper breathing techniques along with required body movements in the exercise, people could achieve physical coordination, strength training, and relaxation at the same time.

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Indeed, Pilates helps people not just achieve physical goals. The exercise also helps them improve body balance and overall posture. Specifically, Pilates is aimed at helping people develop balance between aligning spine and proper breathing (inhalation and exhalation). Let us look at the basic movements when doing the exercise routines in Pilates.

The footwork

More emphasis is given to footwork in Pilates. That is because muscles in the legs and in the lower part of the body are the main focus and source of strength in the exercise. Surely, you would be moving your body muscles but control and balance is dictated by the biggest muscle group, which consists of the foot and lower body muscle group.

You could choose to do a variety of Pilates footwork tasks. You could take in combo or single exercises. The combo exercises are naturally consisting of a set of leg exercises infused and integrated into a Pilates exercise. Example of which is the ballet combo, which is an integration of a number of ballet movements specially modified for Pilates. There is also the sleeper style of exercises for Pilates.

Lying positions

Other than the footwork, you should also be aware of the different supine or lying positions when doing the exercise. Such exercises really help the body achieve total relaxation. Take note that while the body is in the relaxed state during supine positions, movements still are burning calories to achieve benefits similar to those from regular exercises.

Supine positions could be strategic if you would observe proper form. This is why you should be guided by a professional. Attending a regular Pilates class is one way to learn effective and proper lying positions in the program.

Rowing movements

If you are observing Pilates exercises, you must have noticed that there are tasks that resemble movements in rowing. Such movements are also recommended and are required in every Pilates session because they facilitate proper coordination between breathing and different muscle groups all across the body.

Overall, you would notice that Pilates exercise routines involve a combination of footwork, supine positions, and rowing movements all rolled into one. It could be the main reason why Pilates is very effective in extracting sweat from your body, which in turn helps burn up stored body calories.

 

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History of Pilates

If you aim to understand the power Pilates has in strengthening your body, it would be appropriate to take a short glimpse at the history of the exercise program. You may have the impression that Pilates is like Yoga, which has been developed thousands of years ago. Be informed that Pilates was only developed in the 1920s, during the height of the World War I.

It was 1880 when a sickly baby was born in Dusseldorf, Germany. The boy was named Joseph Pilates. As a very young child, Joseph was contended in watching his friends jump, run, and play games. He was not able to do the same because his weak body was frail. That was when the methods of Pilates were conceived by the young Joseph.

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Joseph was very determined to find ways to improve his physical strength, stamina, and overall health. He then set a lifelong quest for an appropriate fitness program and exercise. Joseph not only succeeded in overcoming his physical frailties. Eventually, he mastered them all. As he aged, Joseph stood to become an accomplished gymnast, boxer, skier, and yogi.

During the World War I, Joseph took an internship in England. There he worked as a male nurse, treating and attending to injured victims of the war. He was very convinced in his own belief that specific exercises could effectively help in the rehabilitation of badly damaged bodies. Most of the patients he handled were not really able to move. Joseph’s determination to help patients gain mobility and strength was undeterred.

He then rigged up hospital beds of war patients with springs and straps. At the same time, Joseph created several series of strategic exercises that aim to help move patients’ joints through great ranges of motion. Such exercises aimed to also help patients develop flexibility, endurance, and muscle strength. Surprisingly, most of Joseph’s patients were eventually able to finally get up and then move around on their own.

Joseph, together with his wife, moved to New York City in 1923. There, the couple opened a fitness studio that aimed to provide rehabilitation to injured dancers. Several famous dancers that became clients of the studio were Martha Graham and George Balanchine. Since then, word about the Pilates method spread like wildfire.

Soon the renowned Pilates method became an exercise of choice not just by many dancers but also by many professional athletes and entertainment icons. For many decades, Pilates was enjoyed exclusively by the elite community. It was a form of an exercise program that was enjoyed only by the rich and the famous.

However, in the past decade, Pilates found its way to reach more people. Many membership gyms and fitness clubs have started offering Pilates classes and sessions. Many people have since then discovered for themselves how Pilates could truly help them effectively gain flexibility, strength and body balance. Most of them have been awed by the fact that they need not spend more time at the gym just to attain desired results. Not surprisingly, Pilates emerged to become among the hottest trends in fitness and health.

 

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What Is Pilates?

There are many forms of exercise programs. Pilates is among the most popular. In the United States alone, there are about 5 million people who are regularly participating in various Pilates sessions and classes. It is estimated that more individuals are doing Pilates tasks on their own, right at the comfort of their own homes during their free time. What is Pilates? Why should you be doing it?

To begin with, Pilates is an exercise system that focuses strategically on improving the body’s strength, flexibility, and posture without building up any bulk. The method involves a series of highly controlled movements that are performed using specially and specifically designed spring-resistant apparatus. Pilates could also be performed on the floor (a method known as mat work) without the need to use any tool or equipment. The sessions should be supervised by no less than specially trained instructors.

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You should understand that Pilates is a form of a resistance exercise. It is not actually aerobic or cardiovascular although through doing Pilates movements, you would observe that your heart rate would surely increase. In comparison, it is more identical to weight lifting than to biking, jogging, and many other forms of popular aerobic activities.

The two key elements are spinal alignment and core muscle strength. Pilates targets the core musculature, which is loosely defined as the abdomen, the spine, the pelvis, the hips, and all other muscles that support such structures. Included in the main core muscles are the external and internal obliques (sides of the abdomen), the erector spinae (those at the back along the spine), the rectus abdominis (‘six-pack’), the hip flexors (those in the upper legs and the pelvis), and the transverse abdominis (situated deep into the gut).

During any Pilates session, the instructor would continuously prompt you to focus deeply into your core muscles. You should also pay attention to your breath as well as to the quality of movements and appropriate contraction of the muscles. The key elements of the program would be emphasized in every session. The main objective is to establish coordination among the body, the mind, and even the spirit. Developer Joseph Pilates called this coordination ‘contrology.’

Pilates was developed and created during the 1920s. Joseph Pilates was a physical trainer (died in 1967) who was active in developing targeted exercise routines. The program was originally created for physical rehabilitation purposes. Several of the first few people who were required to perform Pilates were American soldiers who returned injured from the war. It was also required for dancers who injured themselves during rehearsals and performances.

Since the early part of the 20th century, the basic tenets of Pilates have been purposely preserved. Even today, despite evident modifications and variations, Pilates still remains very truthful to its origins. It is not surprising that it is currently one of the most popular forms of exercise programs. There are classes and group sessions that are held regularly in gyms and fitness centers for people who aim to perform Pilates exercise routines. Numerous health and fitness experts keep on recommending it to people.

 

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