When I tell people that I am a Pilates instructor they typically give me a perplexed look. Then I get the questions; “Is that like Yoga?” “I’ve heard of that, is it hard?” “Isn’t that on that weird machine?” Or, statements like – “I like cardio better” quickly put an end to the conversation. But as someone who has been a fitness instructor for almost 20 years, teaching every fad to come along, I feel fortunate that I can teach Pilates AND that I get to share the benefits of this awesome form of exercise with my pupils every week!
For some reason Pilates (perhaps the name is just too strange) endures some serious misconceptions. So I’m going to try and break a few common myths and answer some questions along the way;
- Pilates is just another form of Yoga, right? Yes, Pilates is similar to Yoga in its concept that you can use different “poses” to stretch and build flexibility and balance. But Pilates is really more about MOVING into and through a series of exercises to gain strength, flexibility and balance.
- Doesn’t Pilates use that weird machine? There are two forms of Pilates. the first commonly known as Matwork, and the other version is Reformer Pilates that is done on a large piece of equipment which was invented by the originator of this exercise system; Joseph Pilates. There are also several small pieces of apparatus that can be used with the Matwork version of Pilates, such as a ring, or small ball. But you really don’t need anything other than a Yoga style mat to do Pilates.
- Isn’t Pilates only for women? In actuality Pilates was designed for men rehabbing from their injuries in WWI and in some ways is even more beneficial to a man’s physique. Men tend to pronate (round forward) when they build muscle in their upper bodies, so Pilates is a great way to focus on the shoulder girdle in a positive format that improves posture, too.
- Pilates is a real workout! Some people think that it would be more beneficial to just do cardio. But I feel that Pilates, and its principle of building core strength – is the foundation of a stronger, more fit body that will allow you to excel in any other form of exercise, including strength training and all forms of cardio.
- Yes, we even sweat in Pilates! There are countless professional athletes that have found the benefits of this amazing discipline, increasing not only strength and flexibility but finding the added power that comes from being able to engage the core during activities like golf or running.
- Pilates just works your abs, right? As a fitness professional and triathlete, I have found Pilates to be the foundation of keeping my core strength at its peak, so that I can maintain my fitness regimen AND stay healthy as I train. Pilates is also awesome for keeping your back healthy – after all, you need core strength to support your back at every level of activity.
If you are looking for an entry-level fitness class OR if you are an athlete that wants to improve their level of fitness – give Pilates a try. I suggest committing to at least a month of classes, as with every new form of exercise Pilates takes patience to learn proper form and therefore gain the most benefit. But most of all – enjoy feeling better with Pilates – I promise that you will!