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What is Pilates?

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

By: Jen DeVane-Mulhern

Many new and prospective clients ask me, “what is Pilates, exactly?” The simple answer I give is that Pilates has the mindfulness of yoga with exercises similar to those done in physical therapy and in traditional gym classes. Below are four aspects of Pilates that go into more detail about what exactly Pilates is.

#1 - Focus on Breathing

In Pilates there is a focus on using your breath to assist in movement, much like yoga or weight-lifting. That breath activates your core (deep abs called the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and spine stabilizers called multifidi) which gives your body support as it moves. This breathing technique can be applied to any kind of exercise.

#2 - Pilates Exercises

The exercises often done in Pilates might look familiar - everything from rotator cuff exercises to push-ups and pelvic tilts to squats are frequently done in Pilates. Yoga poses such as Downward Facing Dog, Fallen Warrior, and Goddess Pose might also be practiced in a Pilates class. There are even machine exercises that mimic mountain climbing and horseback riding. The difference I’ve found in Pilates is the attention to detail. Instructors give directions and corrections in deeper, more precise ways than I’ve ever experienced in an exercise class, outside possibly a ballet class.

"Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it." - Joseph Pilates

#3 - Applying Pilates to All Forms of Movement

Although there are a great deal of Pilates staples, movement possibilities are endless with the Pilates Method, as the main focus is on how movement is created and less on choreography, or learning specific moves. This is so great, because it means that ANY movement (including playing with your kids, gardening, and other functional/everyday movement) can incorporate the Pilates Method. It also means that if you want to hone your skills in a particular sport or dance form, Pilates is excellent cross-training.

#4 - Pilates is For Everyone

Pilates works well for all ages and abilities. With its flexibility in ways to move, anyone 10 to 100 can benefit from Pilates classes. Those with chronic pain or suffering from an injury can find healing and pain reduction. Beginners to professional athletes and dancers can benefit from this exercise method.

Curious to See if Pilates is a Good Fit For You?

I hope this helps you better understand what Pilates is and why I find it to be such an amazing exercise method. Want to experience a Pilates class for yourself? Message me or comment below for more info and to find a class and instructor that’s right for you.

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