When it comes to Pilates, there are SO many questions. What even is Pilates anyway?!
In this blog post, I hope to answer some of those questions that might help you decide whether Pilates is a good fit for you (spoiler alert...it will be!).
So let's get stuck in...
1. What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of movement / exercise that was created by Joseph Pilates in Germany. It was designed to help dancers and injured soldiers in the UK and over the years, has been modified to suit all types of people and bodies.
Pilates looks to strengthen the body, but also incorporates balance, flexibility and mobility. In addition to this, there is a focus on the mind-body connection, which means being aware of what your body is doing instead of flailing your limbs around and not really knowing what's going on!
There are similarities between Pilates and Yoga but they are very far from being the same thing.
2. Why should I do Pilates?
There are soooo many reasons why Pilates is a great form of exercise that everyone should be incorporating into their routine, whether it's the only form of exercise you do or if you use it to compliment other aspects of your training.
In the first instance, there are all the aspects that I listed above in terms of what Pilates seeks to achieve - strength, improved balance, better flexibility, mobility and posture. But there's more! Pilates is a way to de-stress and improve anxiety/depression, to move, to take some time for yourself and maybe help you to sleep. Maybe to become part of a community of like minded people and socialise.
One of the important things about Pilates, is that there is no impact. So if you have joint issues or just don't like impact exercise such as running, Pilates could be perfect for you.
3. What experience do I need to do Pilates?
If you're a complete beginner and you would prefer to be with other first timers, you may prefer to seek out a beginners course/class as you would go totally back to basics. However, even if you are a beginner, there's no reason why you can't go to a 'normal' class with people of all different experience. The likelihood is that the instructor will provide options / adaptation / modifications anyway, so there will definitely be something you can do.
There will be intermediate and advanced classes as well, so just speak to the instructor beforehand and they can give you a steer as to the right class for you.
4. Can I do Pilates if I am pregnant?
Yes! Pilates is probably one of the best forms of exercise you can do if you're pregnant as there is no impact and you can still work on strength, balance and mobility during that time.
Depending on your experience and general fitness level, you may prefer to seek out a specific pre-natal class as there are some things you should not do when you are pregnant (for example, laying on your back after the first 12-14 weeks).
If you're already taking part in a Pilates class, speak to your instructor and they will advise whether they are comfortable to still train you, or if they would recommend you to a pre-natal specialist, but you should definitely keep moving during your pregnancy.
4. Can I still do Pilates if I have chronic pain / an injury?
Yes. Again, this could be a great form of exercise for you.
Pilates can improve conditions that come with chronic pain and there have been plenty of stories about people being able to reduce (or even stop) their pain medication after doing Pilates for a while. You should note however, that this will take a bit of time and you can't expect amazing results straight away - you will need to be consistent in taking part in the sessions and give it time.
In terms of injury, it will of course depend on what the injury is but on the whole, Pilates is likely to benefit. Modifications can be made if there are difficulties with certain movements, but you should NOT be afraid to move your body. Pilates is super safe and the likelihood of hurting yourself is far lower than in most other forms of exercise.
Depending on your condition or injury, your instructor may need sign off from your GP / physio / other health professional before allowing you to take part in the class, but that's really just a formality.
5. How do I find the right class?
This will totally depend on what you want from a class. You should think about the following things:
Would you like a class face to face or online?
Are you looking for a class for a specific problem i.e chronic pain
Would you prefer a beginners class or are you happy to mingle with other abilities?
The best thing to do is go and try a class! A lot of places will offer a free or discounted first session to see if you like it and with online classes / studios, there is often a free trial available for 7 days or so. If you don't enjoy it, there's no commitment and you can try another one!
Pilates is for everybody! There's no question as to whether it would be right for you...it absolutely would be. You just have to find the right class and the right instructor. You won't like the way everyone teaches or the style of the class, so don't give up after the first try if it's not quite the right fit. Try another class and another instructor :)
If you have any other burning questions that you would like answered, just pop a comment below!
See you on the mats