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Personal Pilates Exercise
The Pilates advantage
Pilates exercise dramatically transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen.
Professional dancers have used Pilates for decades. Top athletes use it for strength, flexibility, and injury prevention.
A miracle? Not really. Developed from the rehabilitation techniques of Joseph Pilates, Pilates is a safe, sensible exercise system using a floor mat or equipment, that will help you look and feel your very best. No matter your age or condition, it will work for you.
Pilates develops a strong "core" or center of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles, and the muscles closest to the spine. The exercises develop core control, integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.
- Builds strength without "bulking up"
- Increases flexibility and agility
- Develops optimal core control
- Creates flat abdominals, slender thighs and a strong back
- Is a refreshing mind-body workout
- Is challenging yet safe
Mat or equipment?
Pilates is most often performed on a mat or a Reformer. A Reformer an often times expensive resistance-based piece of equipment with a moving carriage that slides along a wooden or metal frame. Springs and ropes provide assistance and resistance, and exercises are performed lying down, sitting, kneeling or standing.
Many Pilates enthusiasts prefer working on Reformers, which offer more resistance and support than a mat. Others love the flexibility of mat workouts, which allow you more flexibility in where and when you work out.
What’s right for you?
There are many ways to experience Pilates. Your personality and budget will help guide you.
Getting Started is an overview of where you can do Pilates.
Pilates at Home shares advice on bringing your Pilates exercise experience home.
Visit Pilates at a Studio or Club for more about choose an environment that's right for you.
Pilates for Beginners – tips to get started
Once you decide to try Pilates, the next question is where. You can find Pilates at:
- Health and fitness clubs
- Pilates studios (facilities geared specifically toward Pilates or Pilates and mind-body activities like yoga)
- Recreation centers (such as YMCAs and JCCs)
- Wellness centers and rehabilitation clinics
What appeals to you will depend on how you like to work out, your schedule and how much you want to spend. And whatever setting you choose for your experience as a Pilates beginner, it should provide an appropriate mind-body atmosphere conducive to concentration and focus.
A group experience
Does working out with others help you stay motivated and focused? Do you need the camaraderie (and discipline) of scheduled classes to keep you on track? If so, group reformer or mat classes at a local studio or club may be the best fit. Many clubs offer free mat classes to introduce their members to Pilates. Most group Reformer classes typically carry a fee.
Or, you may prefer the solitude and flexibility of working out alone. If you have a hard time sticking with a regularly-scheduled class, Pilates at home may be best for you.
If Pilates at home appeals to you, experts agree that taking a class or two at your local studio or club is a smart and safe way to begin Pilates. The investment will be well worth it. Good Pilates technique includes intricacies of both movement and breathing that are best explained and demonstrated by a qualified instructor.
Customized and one-on-one
Want an intensive, one-on-one Pilates experience customized to your individual goals or special needs? Nothing beats personal Pilates training sessions at a club or studio, if your budget allows.
Pilates and physical therapy
In addition, Pilates is now offered at many rehabilitation clinics and wellness centers. If you’ve been injured or are seeking physical therapy for chronic neck and back pain, hip/knee replacements, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, scoliosis or other conditions, research is showing that Pilates can be an effective treatment. Discuss any treatment program with your healthcare team.
Pilates enthusiasts around the world are enjoying Pilates workouts in a place that until recently seemed absurd – at home. It was only offered in high-end studios and health clubs. And the equipment was too big, too bulky and too expensive for most of us.
Mat workouts changed everything. Home users first discovered Pilates mat videos and DVDs that guided them through refreshing full body workouts.
Enjoying Pilates at home allows the ultimate flexibility - no scheduled classes to get to on time. You’ll need a healthy dose of self-discipline, though, to regularly carve out time for yourself for the recommended three sessions a week.
Off to a great start
Before starting a Pilates program at home, expert trainers highly recommend taking one or two classes at a studio or health club to get acquainted with the exercise. The investment will be well worth it. Good Pilates technique includes intricacies of both movement and breathing that are best explained and demonstrated by a qualified instructor.
Mat workouts at home
Pilates exercises on a floor mat are popular for two big reasons:
- They’re inexpensive
- Space requirement is minimal
You’ll find lots of DVDs and videos to choose from. Many include variations that accommodate beginning to advanced levels. Some also include exercises with small, inexpensive accessories like rings and rollers, which add variety and interest to your workout. See our recommendations below.
Pilates is becoming available in a variety of settings. How do you know what Pilates class is right for you? Here are some guidelines to help you find the best fit.
Type of facility
Type of Pilates
Pros and cons
|Health & Fitness Clubs||Group Mat Classes|
|Health & Fitness Clubs||Group Allegro Reformer Classes|
|Health & Fitness Clubs||Personal Sessions|
|Pilates Studios||Group and Personal Sessions|