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Today we’re talking about Pilates. I believe there to be so many misconceptions about who it is for and what it is that I want to straighten out for you. I’ve been teaching Pilates since 2017, and pride myself on being one of the youngest instructors out there (I was only 19 when I did my training). I did my Level 3 Pilates Matwork course first, then trained in Trigger Point Pilates and Trigger Point Pilates: Barre and Balls.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Pilates is designed for middle aged women, and I’ve kind of been making it my mission to increase awareness about Pilates and its benefits to a younger audience.
I did do an IGTV about this, so if you prefer to watch a video then feel free to check that out as it covers the same kind of thing as this post.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN A PILATES CLASS?
Pilates classes are usually either 45 minutes or an hour. You can find them in gyms, private studios and online. Each class will be different (especially mine because I never write down what I do – I prefer to go with the flow and get inspiration from the people I have in front of me). You might find that one class focuses more on core strength, one more on balance and co-ordination, one appears more full body, but this is not usually disclosed. Pilates is very individual and focuses on use of breath, so you work at your own speed and with your own breath. In recent years there has been a rise in Fitness Pilates which is very different to the classical kind, and the qualifications the instructor has are very different. Usually a Pilates instructor will have a Level 3 qualification that includes in depth knowledge on anatomy and physiology. Fitness Pilates has more of a conditioning/ legs, bums, tums vibe.
You can expect the instructor to lead you through the exercises, they may not demonstrate the entire class, in fact don’t be alarmed if the instructor starts to walk around the class analysing what everyone is doing, and may offer hands-on correction.
The kind of movements you’ll be doing are usually based around mobility and always come back to core strength, breathing and alignment.
DO YOU NEED EQUIPMENT?
In short, no you don’t. You probably want a mat, and for Pilates you might want to get a slightly thicker foam mat rather than just using a thin yoga mat. This will make your experience a little more comfortable if there’s a lot of work on the floor. I recommend getting a mat like this one.
There are Pilates classes that will be all standing work, and equally some exist that are all mat-based.
Equipment that can be used in Pilates however includes yoga blocks, balls, foam rollers (not the type you’re thinking of), resistance bands and Trigger Point Balls (also known as magic balls and my secret weapon – more on that later).
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
Everyone. Like I said, there’s a definite misconception that Pilates is just for the older generation but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve even taught a Pilates class for children (it was a challenge I can tell you that) but so many of the skills learnt in Pilates are valuable ones. It’s also amazing for injury rehabilitation, and if you’ve been to physio with any kind of muscular injury or back issue, they’ve probably given you Pilates exercises to help regain the strength. It’s also really good for dancers. But in general, Pilates will benefit anyone who does a class regularly.
When I got my first regular Pilates class I built up my own little niche and over a few months I saw an increase in younger people and an increase in men who really enjoyed the class and saw the benefits, which was really good. My whole aim to just expose more people to the benefits of Pilates.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
There are so many benefits, some obvious, some less so. The main ones I think of are improved posture and core strength. The principles of Pilates included alignment and posture and it really makes you more aware of your body and how you’re holding yourself in day to day life. It can correct or significantly improve spinal deformities such as lordosis and kyphosis, both curvatures of the spine which can develop from day to day working life. Other skills that will improve by taking Pilates classes are balance, co-ordination, strength, mobility and flexibility. We spend a lot of time focusing on the stabiliser muscles around the joints (hips, knees, ankles, shoulders) that often get neglected in other workouts but are expected to take on massive loads.
DOES IT HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?
This is another question a lot of people seem to want an answer to when being asked to try something new. Indirectly, Pilates could help with weight loss. To experience any amount of weight loss, you must be in a calorie deficit and that’s what it comes down to. I personally wouldn’t just go to five Pilates classes a week as my main form of exercise if my number one goal was fat loss. However, alongside other forms of exercise it 100% would contribute to weight loss. It’s also important to note that weight loss is very individual and what works for your best friend may not work for you.
Another thing to consider is how your posture affects how ‘slim’ you appear. Posture is huge and the way you hold yourself from day to day has a lot to do with how your appearance. So by improving your posture from Pilates, you could appear thinner and more ‘toned’.
Note: Pilates focuses on working the deep muscles rather than the superficial ones so much, so instead of working on your ‘six pack’ all the core work you do in Pilates is going to strengthen your deep core muscles.
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO YOGA?
This is the number one question I get asked. They do have similarities and teachers that are trained in both may have a tendency to combine them from time to time. But in general I think there is more of a mind/body connection in Yoga and element of meditation than there is in Pilates. I do sometimes finish my Pilates classes, especially Trigger Point Pilates with a small amount of meditation, but not all the time. In Yoga you spend more time holding positions and breathing into them whereas in Pilates you can expect to be moving a bit more continuously. I don’t want to say it’s more of a workout than Yoga because you can work extremely hard in a Yoga class, but it might initially feel like more of a workout, depending on what that means to you.
WHAT IS TRIGGER POINT PILATES?
Trigger Point Pilates is definitely my favourite thing to teach, because I’m aware of how much of a difference it can make to a person’s life. It’s a game changer and if you’ve never heard of it, I strongly recommend you try a class! (Details at the bottom of this post). It combines traditional Pilates movement with myofascial release using trigger points and the equipment I mentioned earlier, in order to help alleviate chronic pain conditions, realign the body and enhance movement by undoing muscular restrictions.
Again, it’s for everyone, you will benefit from TPP if you’re an elite athlete or if you’re recovering from an injury, or if you’re suffering a chronic pain condition such as fibromyalgia. This is a very basic introduction and I will be doing a whole post on Trigger Point Pilates in the near future.
These are some of the main questions I get asked or that people submitted ahead of my IGTV, which does have slightly more information in it and more individual circumstances if you want to go and give that a watch. You can also catch up on my Pilates sessions I’ve been holding on my Instagram there too.
If you have any more questions about Pilates then feel free to leave a comment or drop me a private message, I’d be happy to help.
If anyone’s feeling inspired and wants to try Pilates, check out my online classes and how you can get involved.