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How to start Pilates

Are you brand new to Pilates? Have you ever been to a Pilates class before? Are you afraid that you might not be flexible enough or strong enough to join a Pilates class? These are fears that crossed my mind the first time I tried Pilates, but it's never too late to start. I didn't even know what Pilates was when I first found out about it. Yea, sure I know what yoga is, but what the heck is Pilates?! Pilates is the type of exercise best described by the 6 Pilates Principles: control, precision, breathe, concentration, flow, and centering. I teach Classical Pilates which is what Joseph Pilates (the mastermind) intended his work to be. This is a tried a true method of exercises that helps people with all different types of backgrounds. I have taught people with knee replacements, autoimmune diseases, cancer, spinal fusions, neuropathologies, and the list goes on. There are other types of Pilates out there, but just be careful that your teacher has a really good certification (600 hours+) and not just one of those weekend workshop certificates. It doesn't matter how tight or out of shape you may be, Pilates is a great place to start.

One of our teachers, Sarah, helping a beginner client. She is supporting the client's leg on her knee and holding the client's hands.

I was given the chance to try a private session through my gym the first time I tried Pilates. I had never even taken a regular Pilates mat class or equipment class. I just stuck with the private lessons for awhile so that I could understand the exercises better. No matter what class you step it can be overwhelming the first time. I would recommend taking a private lesson first so that you know what the type of exercises you are about to do and maybe cannot do. If you have had a surgery, or injury, or disability, your teacher can give you modifications to do for when you enter a class with other people at different levels than you. Also, it is good to talk to your teacher about what your limitations might be for that day. I always ask my clients every time I see them, "how are you feeling?" I even go a step further and ask if they are sore anywhere or tight in any places. There might be an area they want to avoid, but any other day it might be different. As a teacher, my client always comes first and how they are doing. There might also be an area that a client wants to focus on more than others with regard to stretching or strengthening. Once you are in the session with me, I am constantly checking in with you to make sure that you are comfortable and being worked but not too strenuosly. Pilates has a flow to it, so once you master the order and exercises you will get more of a cardio type of workout and build your stamina.

One of our advanced clients, who had a double knee replacement, doing the backstroke on the long box on the reformer. She is reaching through her hands and feet to become longer while pulling her stomach in and up to strengthen her core.

There is a method to the madness of Classical Pilates and which piece of equipment that you start on. Our order is A, B, C. A and B refer to the Pilates reformer exercises or the Pilates Mat exercises. Once you complete those exercises first then you move to the C section of your workout which is all the other equipment. As a Pilates teacher I would utilize the pieces of equipment that would best benefit my client. For example, if my client has trouble going into extension with their spine I would focus on the equipment that would best help my client with that at the end of their session.

The wonderful thing about Pilates is that the same exercise can be modified for any client. Looking at the photo below of Going Up Front on the Wunda Chair, we work on control and balance. If balance and control is hard for you, I would give you a pole to hold, use the wall, or my hands. Once you become stronger then I would have you reach your arms out infront of you. There are many different progressions for all types of Pilates exercises.

Progression of going up front on the Wunda Chair. (Starting from left: beginner, advance, intermediate)

Google your area and see if there is a Classical Pilates studio for you to try a private session. Ask if they are having any new client specials so you might be able to get a small discount. Pilates is not cheap but consider it an investment in your health.

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