Pilates is a gentle method of exercise that targets the body's core to develop long, strong, lean muscles, while teaching your body to move more efficiently. It is well known for providing relief from various kinds of back pain, improving postural problems, and guarding against injury, among many other potential benefits. Pilates starts from the center, teaching you to identify the deep core muscles, using the breath to help engage them fully and use them for support as you learn to align and stabilize the spine. From there we move outward, learning to articulate smoothly through the spine in all directions, and then out to the limbs, considering the proper support and alignment of each joint as the whole body becomes stronger. Pilates helps you develop flexibility within a safe range of motion for each joint, and encourages a deep mind-body connection that only deliberate practice can bring.
While Pilates and Yoga may look similar at a glance, in practice they are very different. Yoga generally involves a series of static postures, while Pilates exercises involve constant movement. While both methods offer great benefits in strength and flexibility, Yoga has a definite emphasis on developing flexibility, while Pilates is very much centered on core strength. Yoga practitioners develop that flexibility through poses which gently take the limbs beyond everyday movements to open the joints, while Pilates keeps the joints within a more functional range. Your choice depends on your goals and personal preferences, and many people find value in practicing both!
Pilates was originally intended as a one-on-one activity, and private instruction offers a level of customization to your individual needs, goals and schedule that group instruction simply cannot offer. At the same time, group classes provide a fun, affordable workout with lots of variety, and movements can be modified to suit the needs of individuals in the group. While individuals may stick with one or the other, many students get the best of both worlds by scheduling regular private sessions along with their group classes. Others choose to learn the basics thoroughly and at their own pace through private instruction, then move into group classes once they have the basics down. The choice comes down to your personal preferences, schedule, and budget.
In a word - YES! The beauty of Pilates is that it can be used to benefit most any body, no matter what your starting point is. If for some reason an individual doesn't feel comfortable starting with a group class, private instruction could certainly be an option, either ongoing or in preparation for a group class. Everyone has to start somewhere, and wherever you're at is, quite simply, where you are! Come on in.
Most likely, the answer is yes, but it's always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. When there is any doubt, I would ask you to do this, simply to make sure we keep you safe! In some cases, group classes may not be appropriate, if many modifications are needed for your condition, or the instructor is unable to provide enough individual guidance to be sure you are performing the movements safely. Also, I should note that my studio is on the second level of a building with no elevator….so in this particular case, you must be able to climb stairs to do Pilates. (But don’t let that stop you from seeking out another great studio in the area, call me if you need help!)
Comfortable clothes that allow you to move. Yoga clothes are commonly seen in Pilates studios, but sweats and a t-shirt work just as well! It is helpful if the clothing fits well enough that I can see what your body is doing and cue subtle changes, but skin-tight is not necessary.
While it does not offer a cardio workout, Pilates can be a positive addition to your weight loss plan. Building lean muscle mass is essential in any plan, and Pilates will help your body move more efficiently in other forms of exercise and daily life.
Absolutely not! Pilates was created by a man, and men get just as much benefit from practicing it as women. Despite the impression you might get from the wonderful world of fitness trends marketing, the reality is that Pilates never was just for women, and it does not need to be changed to be suitable for men. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and Pilates can help (and challenge!) anyone.