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Looking to start pilates? Read this first!

Aug 21, 2022


How frequently do you recommend people do Pilates? For instance, is it OK to do every day? Or should it be done less often?


I recommend students practice Pilates 2-3x/week. More often is absolutely ok! Your body can change from day to day and moment to moment. The great thing about Pilates is it addresses your individual needs and meets you where you are both physically and mentally in any given moment.


Is Pilates the only type of workout you need? Or should it be mixed with other types of workouts?


Pilates can absolutely fulfil all of your exercise needs. It is also a great complement to other activities or modalities. It is corrective exercise and nature and truly makes you better at any type of sport or activity you love. Whether that be running marathons or running after your grandkids. The order on the mat and reformer are designed to be practiced in the same order with seamless transitions from one exercise to the next which lends itself to be a very effective cardio workout. That is of course in addition to the spring resistance training all of which builds strength, stamina and endurance and trains many different systems of the body. 


Are there certain types of people (like those with certain underlying health conditions or injuries) who should consult their doctor before starting a Pilates workout?


Anyone currently under the care of a doctor for an acute issue should get clearance from their medical team before starting ANY workout program. Since Pilates is corrective in nature, it lends itself well to injury recovery and rehabilitation, but it is always going to be first and foremost a full body workout. Imbalances, asymmetries and other issues tend to resolve themselves through Pilates because we approach individual needs holistically. However, I ALWAYS work with my students' medical team when addressing health conditions or injuries and always refer out when an issue is outside my scope of practice. 


Do you need to warm up before a Pilates workout? If so, what’s the best way to warm up?


As I touched upon early, the order on the mat and reformer is incredibly intentional and both begin with exercises that warm the body up, get the blood flowing and circulation going. Each exercise in the order prepares the body for the next and this continues throughout the entire routine. This is what makes the mat routine such a wonderful workout that can truly be done anywhere any time.  


How many calories does Pilates burn in a one-hour workout?


To be completely honest, this entirely depends on how hard you are willing to work. 


What are the key muscle groups used for Pilates?


In theory, every part of the body will work during a Pilates workout. However, we are primarily concerned with trunk of the body, what we refer to as "the center." This includes but are not limited to the 4 abdominal muscles (transversus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, and rectus abdominis), Deep Muscles (Diaphram, intercostals, Psoas Major and Minor, pelvic floor), The back muscles (which include Latissimus Dorsi, Erector Spinae, Multifidus), The seat (Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus)


 What types of Pilates workouts should people start with? Classes? Private instruction? Or is it OK to start with an online program/ YouTube videos?


Because Pilates was designed to be corrective in nature and to address individual needs, if possible it is always best to start with some sort of 1:1 evaluation and guidance on how best to utilize the practice. However, the end goal is autonomy. Traditionally Pilates was taught in an open studio setting, meaning every student worked through their individualized workout plan under the watchful eye of a teacher weaving their way around the room. This style of learning is still very much alive today! It is the way I teach all of my group classes. 


It is definitely ok to start with whatever you have access to. The internet is a wonderful place filled with plentiful resources, just be vigilant when vetting where to get your information. If you want to learn more about Pilates, I always recommend first learning the ABCs. In the world of Pilates that means as close to the Old School method that Joseph Pilates created. (I am happy to provide some online programs/youtube videos I recommend if you would like, I also have some of my own you can absolutely share if that would be helpful).


Anything specific newbies should keep in mind? Should they start with full body or target specific areas? How long should their Pilates workouts be when first starting out?


Pilates will always be taught as a full body workout. The first things to learn are Proper postural alignment, complete use of breath, and complete control of your movements. In terms of duration, something will always be better than nothing. The best workout for you is the one you will stick with! If that means you have 5 minutes, great, eventually work up to 30minutes to maybe an hour. 


Joseph Pilates has a famous saying, in 10 sessions you'll feel a difference, in 20 you'll see a difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body, or your money back! That was for those that commited to a kickass sweaty hour long session 3x/week. 


Studies demonstrate that 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise per week is ideal. So this could be 20-30 minutes per day, or 50 minutes 3x a week etc. 


However research also shows that it takes 66 days to build a habit. So if you are looking to build a workout habit, or specifically a Pilates habit, be committed to giving it your all for a good few months to reap the benefits. 


For more information and inspiration about Pilates be sure to stay up to date with the blog and all my socials!

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Side Bend

I am a lifelong mover and a shaker and I am on a mission to make Pilates accessible for all, both as a career and as a practice.

I have over 15 year’s experience teaching movement to people of all ages, abilities, and walks of life.

The discipline of Pilates has taught me purpose and focus of body and mind. Through consistent practice I have learned strength, confidence, and grace that have served me in many demanding moments in life, including a 60 hour labor during the birth of my son and managing my mom’s end of life care last year. You can follow my story and how Pilates serves my daily life through my blog #themombodchronicles.