Frequently asked questions
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a full-body exercise system that uses a series of machines and exercises. It works the entire body, both the right and left sides, in unison. 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. It also includes your buttocks. With Pilates, no matter what exercise you're doing, you are focusing on this powerhouse area.
How can beginners get the most benefit from Pilates?
Be consistent, especially in the beginning. Don't just try it once. Give it a few shots and do it in succession. Make it your reward, your break from a hectic day. Also, listen to your body and really concentrate — it makes for a better workout. Someone once told me that you need to "arrive" for Pilates, meaning you have to be there mentally as well as physically. To get the most out of Pilates, you have to be very present. Your body and mind will thank you.
How is Pilates different from other forms of exercise?
Pilates is different from most exercises out there 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. But one difference is that there's a whole line of equipment in Pilates that doesn't exist in yoga, so it provides a different angle: You're doing exercises with the assistance and resistance of springs and pulleys. The springs may assist you or they may make an exercise more difficult, depending on the exercise.
What is BARRE Pilates?
While all barre workouts differ slightly in structure, most methods incorporate exercises done at a ballet barre (you can use the back of a chair at home) combined with elements of ballet and Pilates. Barre exercises rely mainly upon one's bodyweight for resistance, and the moves challenge your core stability and balance. Barre workouts are designed to help an individual achieve a “dancer’s body” — strong, sleek, and streamlined.
Classes are just under an hour long and include a 5-10 minute warm up, 10-15 minutes of light weights (upper body), 20-30 minutes of barre exercises (mostly lower body), 10 minutes of floor work that includes abdominals and lower body exercises. Most classes end with a cool down and final stretches.
How do I know if Pilates will benefit me?
I can't say that it's great for everyone in every scenario, but in my experience, I've only had clients feel better after doing it. Injuries begin to cause less discomfort or go away completely.
Pilates can help you lose weight, get relief from back pain, tone your trouble spots, or recover from injury. It's also being used more and more as therapy to help people with certain illnesses such as Anxiety and Depression as it encourages correct breathing patterns, which in turn can help calm the mind and body.
Is Pilates a cardiovascular workout?
Initially the workout is explained to you and can be slow movements. Eventually, once you learn the workout and become more experience it becomes aerobic. You can get a cardiovascular workout when you're on the equipment and working on an advanced level because it's more physical. You have to work towards it, but Pilates can be cardiovascular.
Many claim that Pilates reshapes the body. How does it do this?
Pilates can completely reform your body using your core and really focusing on and strengthening the abdominal wall, teaching it to lay flat and be strong. If the stomach is sticking out, you're going to train it to stick out. In Pilates you are 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.
You also make long, fluid, larger motions that lengthen and stretch the muscles. If you're consistent with it and make a commitment to yourself, you will see and feel the difference in your body.
How often should I do Pilates? Is it like weight training in that you need to rest your muscles for 48 hours between workouts?
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.
Will my body be sore after a Pilates class?
Feeling sore is a very individual thing. 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. It also has to do with your athleticism. If you've been sedentary, you're probably going to feel it more than someone who's very active. It's all relative.