Beginner Pilates Tips

Core strength, pilates, exercise, beginnersGetting started with Pilates is much like getting started with yoga, although the two are very separate disciplines. What do they have in common? Try flexibility, discipline, attention, focused movements, and mind-body health. These two exercise types are very different beyond that. Yoga does not focus on any one part of the body, while Pilates’ focus is on core strength.

You can learn Pilates right in your home via video instruction. All you need to get started is a mat. If you have any medical problem or injury, don’t go for the DIY route. You’ll need an instructor to show you how to alter movements so you don’t worsen any existing medical conditions.

Pilates Basics

Pilates has six basic principles. They are centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow.

·          Centering describes the way Pilates puts a strong focus on the core of your body, that area below your ribs and above the pubic bone.

·         Concentration is required if you want to get the most out of Pilates. You should pay attention to each movement and how it makes your body feel.

·         Control refers to the way you move in Pilates exercise. It takes concentration to maintain controlled movements.

·         Precision means that each Pilates exercise has one right and several wrong ways to implement. Although your instructor may alter exercises to accommodate different physical issues, movements must be done carefully and correct to form.

·         Breathing correctly is another part of precision required in exercises. Breathing deeply during the correct movements is integral to effective Pilates exercise.

·         Flow means grace, fluidity and easy of movement. You should feel the energy flowing in your body as you perform exercises.

It takes time to develop these principles. It’s all a part of the exercise. You should start learning basic exercises for your abdominal muscles, the correct positions for the pelvis and spine and increasing your flexibility without hurting yourself. Once you have these essentials down, you’ll be ready to proceed to a regular Pilates routine.

What about All that Equipment?

You have no doubt seen or heard about Pilates machines. Beginners will see very little time on these machines. As you improve in the six core principles, you will become ready for the more advanced exercises done on Pilates machines. Until you have flow and control, exercising with a Pilates machine is a noisy, clanking affair. Be patient with yourself and set goals that will get you closer to using the machines. For now, you need not worry about them.

Finding an Instructor

If you decide you’d like to take a Pilates class, you should select an instructor with care. There are no standards for Pilates instruction. Anyone can claim to be an Instructor. You want a certified Pilates instructor with full certification, not just a weekend seminar. Most instructors will be properly trained, but you should ask questions because getting the form right is important to your success with this exercise. Don’t sign up for a series of classes right away. Instead, choose a few per diem classes to get a feel for Pilates.

Your First Pilates Class

Arrive at class on time wearing clothing that stretches easily. Avoid baggy clothing since the instructor needs to see how your muscles move to get a good idea of the best way to instruct you. Leave your shoes at the door, since you won’t need them in Pilates class. Leave the jewelry behind too, since it just gets in the way. Pay close attention to your instructor to get the most from your class!

While I have only done Pilates at home, I have often considered formal classes. If you have taken Pilates classes, share your experiences with us through the comments.