If you want to reap the benefits of Pilates, but are scared at the very thought of setting foot in a Pilates class, rest assured that Pilates is for everyone. In fact, Pilates should be the one exercise class you never want to miss! Pilates was first developed as a kind of physical fitness system by Joseph Pilates at the turn of the last century. Originally he called the system “Contrology” and developed it as a method of rehabilitation for returning WWI soldiers. Over the years, the system became known as “Pilates” and has been extensively used to rehabilitate and strengthen any person at any level, from ballerinas to stay at home moms.
Pilates focuses on developing and strengthening the core muscles that support the spine. The emphasis of Pilates is on control (hence “contrology”), making each move deliberate and slow rather than fast and jerky. Pilates practitioners focus on control of movement and breath, coaxing the abs to do the heavy lifting. This develops the core muscles and helps improve stability, flexibility, balance, and lessens back pain.
On a purely personal note, there are two distinct advantages to the Pilates form of body training. First, because it tones your abs so quickly, it can help you look better fast. If you are losing weight and want your weight loss to look even more dramatic, you can’t get better than Pilates for quick muscle tone. Secondly, Pilates is more about challenging yourself than following along with the pack. You can work for weeks to master a specific Pilates pose–and imagine the rush once you actually do it right!
Once you have decided to give Pilates a try, you need to search for that Pilates class you cannot miss. Finding that class is a personal journey. There are several factors that will influence what kind of class works for you:
Time of Day
You will need a class that meets at a convenient time for your schedule. If you have to fight to make the class, eventually you’ll give up the fight.
Find an instructor whose teaching style works with you. Make sure your teacher takes the time to explain the pose and correct your form, especially if you are a beginner. Learning proper form is all-important, and a dedicated teacher will keep a sharp eye on yours.
Some people prefer to huddle in the back of a huge class until they feel comfortable. Others prefer a small class with lots of individual attention. Decide what class size works best for you.
Make sure when you are starting out that you find a class that’s geared to all levels. A good instructor will take the time to explain a pose to newbies, and not just expect them to follow along. Once you have advanced beyond the beginner stage, you can seek a more advanced class.
Once you have found a Pilates class you enjoy, you’ll never want to miss a session. So grab your mat and go! You’ll love the results and the way you feel.