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1. What are the benefits of Pilates?

With regular committed Pilates workouts you can expect to:

  • Improve strength, flexibility and balance
  • Tone and build long, lean muscles without bulk
  • Challenge deep abdominal muscles to support the core
  • Engage the mind and enhance body awareness
  • Condition efficient patterns of movement making the body less prone to injury
  • Reduce stress, relieve tension, boost energy through deep stretching
  • Restore postural alignment
  • Create a stronger, more flexible spine
  • Promote recovery from strain or injury
  • Increase joint range of motion
  • Improve circulation
  • Heighten neuromuscular coordination
  • Offer relief from back pain and joint stress
  • Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury
  • Enhance mobility, agility and stamina
  • Compliment sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity
  • Improve the way your body looks and feels

2. What age group is Pilates for?

Pilates can be beneficial for virtually all ages, fitness levels and body conditions. The method is like a bridge between physical fitness and physical therapy, and can be adapted, modified and customized for individual needs. Some advanced moves and sequences seem to demand youthful energy yet others are manageable for even the frailest physique. It’s more about fitness condition than age. One’s chronological number doesn’t necessarily limit one’s movement capabilities – sometimes a 75 year old can perform contortions on the Cadillac while a 20 year old struggles with a simple roll up.

3. What’s better, mat or equipment Pilates exercises?

It’s not a matter of one being better than another. The fundamental Pilates workout can be performed on a Pilates mat alone, and great results can be achieved through beginner, intermediate and advanced moves. However, the various equipment pieces such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Chair incorporate light spring resistance that works like concentric and eccentric muscle contractions to safely sculpt, tone and stretch the muscles. The Arc Barrels and Ladder provide support that allows you to safely manipulate your body to stretch and engage muscles otherwise challenging to isolate. Smaller Pilates equipment pieces such resistance bandsPilates circles and exercise balls also provide an element of variety and focus to a Pilates regimen.

A complete and satisfying workout can involve exercises on the mat alone or can be combined with various pieces of specially designed Pilates equipment. Each session can offer variety so that no two workouts are alike.

4. How often should I do Pilates?

Try to work out 2-4 times a week, taking a day off in between sessions to rest or enjoy some kind of cardiovascular activity (walking, bicycling, swimming). This kind of regular, consistent practice will help you make the mind-body connection and integrate the various Pilates principles. You should start seeing and feeling results in about 10 to15 sessions.

5. Why are personal training sessions with a Pilates instructor so expensive?

Pilates instructors are highly trained professionals who have invested hundreds of hours studying the technique. They learn over 500 exercises for both the mat and Pilates equipment. They learn the philosophy and theory behind each movement, spend considerable time observing and mastering proper form and sequences, and apprentice to fine tune their teaching skills prior to taking a rigorous written and practical exam. They learn more than just a series of moves, they learn how to assess their students’ posture, how to adapt exercises for various body conditions, and how to customize the optimum Pilates program for each individual. This kind of specialized training, combined with the expenses of furnishing a fully equipped studio, commands a high price range.

6. What should I look for in a Pilates instructor?

Ideally your Pilates instructor should be certified through a comprehensive Pilates training program, one comprised of lectures, observation, practice, hands-on apprenticing plus a written and practical examination. This level of training is especially important if you are going to be working out on any of the specialized Pilates equipment – some courses only cover mat exercises while others educate trainers in the full range of apparatus. Find out if your trainer is educated in handling clients with specific injuries or body conditions that might warrant a modified approach. A professional Pilates instructor should keep up with the latest developments in exercise science, choreography, small prop usage and more through continuing education workshops. Any background or teaching experience in other movement disciplines such as dance, aerobics or yoga is also a plus. A professional instructor should make good use of visual, verbal and tactile cueing to ensure students are exercising with proper form and technique. Whether you are working out in a group setting or one-on-one personal training, make sure your Pilates instructor is confident, knowledgeable, responsive and personable so you can have a safe and effective experience.

7. Can I get an effective workout with Pilates videos and books?

Personal instruction with a Pilates professional is the best way to ensure you are using correct form and technique. Many moves engage deep muscles difficult to isolate and subtle body adjustments can make the difference between effective and ineffective exercise. Try some beginner books and tapes at home to get an idea of what Pilates is all about, but then join a group class or get some one-on-one instruction to ensure you are performing properly. Once you’ve had some fine-tuning and are confident you are on the right path, you can continue to workout at home along with the guidance of Pilates videos, DVDs and books.

8. Will I lose weight through Pilates exercises?

In essence, Pilates exercise is not a cardiovascular workout and burning calories is not it’s main focus. However, in conjunction with a sensible diet and some cardio work such as brisk walking, bicycling, aerobics or swimming, Pilates can factor into a weight loss program.

Pilates exercises help strengthen, sculpt and tone the body while building long, lean muscles. Whether the number on the scale goes down or not, you will tend to look and feel better through continued Pilates practice.

9. Can I do Pilates if I’m pregnant?

There is a lot of debate on the subject of Pilates and pregnancy and exercise in general. Generally speaking, moderate exercise is safe throughout a normal, healthy pregnancy and many gentle Pilates exercises are appropriate. However, keep the following cautions in mind.

Do not over-exert the abdominal muscles to avoid diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles).

Take care of you lower back, which can be strained with the weight of the fetus.

Do not over-stretch, as relaxin and progesterone levels increase during pregnancy causing the ligaments around the joints to become lax, loose and vulnerable.

Be aware that your center of gravity and therefore your sense of balance has changed.

Do not start a brand new exercise regimen in the first trimester.

That being said, many gentle stretching and strengthening Pilates exercises can be good for a woman’s body and mind during pregnancy. To be safe during pregnancy, only practice Pilates under the guidance of a professional Pilates instructor who has been trained to teach women in this condition.

10. Who owns the Pilates trademark?

Pilates is named after Joseph H. Pilates, the man who developed the exercise regimen back in the 1920s. Purists devoted to Joe’s original teachings believe the word “Pilates” should be trademarked specifically for this tradition and not for the variations on the theme that have emerged throughout time. However, in a 2002 landmark court case, it was legally determined that the word “Pilates” is a generic noun that can apply to both Joseph’s specific approach and the exercise adaptations it inspired.

Some camps feel this dilutes the credibility of the word (and to be fair, there are some less-than-scrupulous programs and practitioners jumping on the Pilates bandwagon), but others believe it is time the word got off its perceived pedestal and joined the popular vernacular that denotes an exercise method – much like the word “yoga” or “karate” does. Several reputable training programs have emerged that teach a Pilates-inspired regimen, and new accessories are being added to the mix as the “movement” evolves. Now these programs can proudly and legally stand under the Pilates umbrella. Just be aware, not all Pilates programs, studios or instructors are alike.

11. What should I wear?

Avoid clothes with buttons or zippers. No need of shoes. Choose comfortable not too baggy clothes so that the instructor can see the form of the mouvement easier.

12.When is a good time to start Pilates?

Pilates is an effective training method that is suited to men and women of every age and physical condition. Pilates training does not require you to stop carrying out the activities you’ve been doing so far. Quite the opposite: Many famous athletes, dancers and musicians complement and boost their regular training with Pilates. Joseph H. Pilates’ aim was to support each and every one of his pupils in setting themselves higher goals and attaining these. So whether you spend a lot of time behind a desk and want to stretch your back or you’re a professional athlete seeking to boost your condition – Pilates exercises remain suitable for everyone, even in today’s world.

This is the time:

  • When you want to strenghten your core and improve your physical awareness.
  • When you suffer from physical problems due to a one-sided everyday routine.
  • When you want to impove your performance as an athlete, dancer, musician, etc.
  • When you want to prevent injuries or are looking to recover rapidly.
  • When you want to prevent an injury from reoccurring (in cooperation with your physio).
  • When you are going to have surgery and wish to strengthen your body beforehand.
  • When you have to be careful with personal training due to some physical condition. (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, obesity, chronic back pain, etc.).
  • When you don’t like conventional fitness centers or get bored.
  • When you’re looking for an additional training routine to give you that extra challenge.
  • When you have been neglecting yourself, perhaps due to a negative body image, but would love to feel good and strong
  • When you prefer to have a personal instructor supervising you and tailoring your training programme to fit your individual needs.