What is pilates?

Pilates is a full-body exercise system that uses a series exercises. It works the entire body. It focuses primarily on what Joseph Pilates called the “powerhouse” or the group of muscles that begins two inches below your navel, goes two inches above your navel and then wraps completely around your front and your back-kind of like a corset and includes your buttocks. With Pilates, no matter what exercise you’re doing, you keep your focus on the powerhouse area.

How is pilates different from other forms of exercise?

Pilates is different from most exercises because it’s non-impact and safe, and it really works on using the body as a whole. You’re either lying on your back, on your side or kneeling on the floor where it’s safe. When you move the body, you’re trying to move it from the powerhouse, using your abdominal wall to protect your back. You’re also working the body very evenly and symmetrically, making sure one side is not working harder than the other.

What would you say is the key difference between yoga and pilates?

There’s definitely a mind-body connection and a very similar fluidity in both. Pilates focuses on strengthening the body in part using your own physical resistance.

How do I know if pilates will benefit me?

I couldn’t say that it’s for everyone, however, in my experience, I’ve only had clients who feel better after doing it. You get relief from back pain and knee pain, to name two, or recover from injury. Pilates will improve posture and overall flexability.

People claim that pilates reshapes the body. How does it do this?

It comes from using the core and really focusing on and strengthening the abdominal wall, teaching it to lay flat and be strong. In Pilates you’re always thinking of this inward pull as if the navel is going in towards the spine and then lifting up slightly, pulling all of your abdominal wall very flat. The strengthened core enables good posture, this alone makes you look talker and slimmer. The exercises, lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the rest of the body, gaining a sculpted tone.

How often should I do pilates?

Pilates is safe enough to do every day. Initially you may want to do it every day so you get a rhythm and become consistent; then a good goal is to do it every other day. Joseph Pilates used to say to do it three times a week. I encourage my clients to do 10-15 minutes a day in addition to class.

What are the six “principles” of pilates?

Concentration – Most important principle in Pilates. Be mentally present as you do the exercises, aware of every aspect of your body’s movement
Control – Every movement is to be done with control, so you aren’t just throwing your body around.
Center – so that you are evenly using your body.
Fluidity – A smooth transition from one exercise to the next, looking something like a dance, each movement flows into the next.
Precision – You try to make each movement as precise as possible; alignment, position and placement of each part of your body is paramount
Breath – How you breathe is very important in Pilates exercises. No holding your breath! Deep, steady breaths will help you maintain concentration and precision, too.

Will I be sore after class?

Some people don’t feel sore. Pilates is what you put into it. If you’re really conscious and making an effort to make every movement count, you’ll most likely feel something the following day. If you’ve been sedentary, you’re probably going to feel it more than someone who’s very active.

How can beginners get the most benefit from pilates?

Be consistent. Don’t just try it once. Give it a few goes. Listen to your body and really concentrate. When you arrive at class, be fully present and focused on the class, staying mentally “in the room” the higher the concentration, the more you will get from a class – conecting the brain to the muscles and fully feeling your whole being.