Pilates for Beginners
Beginning your training in the Pilates method is a significant step in changing your mind and body. If you are already physically active, the Pilates method is an excellent way to complement other forms of training and enhance your athletic performance.
Before You Begin Pilates
When starting your training in the Pilates method, it is important to familiarize yourself with several key concepts to perform the exercises correctly.
Engaging Your Core Muscles
Pilates requires that you engage your Powerhouse, or core muscles, during each of the exercises. This area includes the deep muscles of your lower back, abdomen, and hips. To engage your core, pull the navel towards the spine. This will stabilize the body, improve your control, and help avoid injury during the movements. After several Pilates sessions, you will become more familiar with engaging these muscles more effectively.
Maintain Proper Posture
Correct posture is the key to keeping your body pain-free. It is common to create muscular imbalances by incorrectly holding your body in unnatural positions. Proper alignment is also important when performing Pilates exercises. Be aware of your body and maintain a straight spine during exercise to avoid injury.
Keep a Neutral Pelvis
Before you begin the Pilates exercises, you must learn to find a neutral pelvis. Tilting your pelvis too much in either direction can contort your spine and lead to lower back pain. During Pilates mat exercises,you can practice a neutral pelvis by keeping your hipbones and pubic bone in the same level plane.
Avoid Straining Yourself
While many forms of exercise pride themselves in taking your body to new extremes, the Pilates method believes that you should avoid excessive straining. Pain is often an indication by the body to the mind that something is wrong. If you are feeling significant discomfort during a movement, stop immediately and seek the assistance of your Pilates instructor.
Breath is often considered the source of life in many forms of alternative medicine. Proper respiration provides the most essential nutrient to the body, fresh oxygen. The Pilates method recommends maintaining a steady, relaxed, slow breathe at all times during exercise. Avoid holding your breath, as this usually indicates that you are over straining yourself. Coordination of the breath with exercises is helpful in maintaining the proper flow of activity in the body.
Mat verse Machine
Next, it is important to decide what type of Pilates class to try. Most beginners to Pilates should start with mat classes. Pilates offers a variety of options when it comes to performing the exercises to best fit your current fitness level. Since Pilates uses your own body weight during exercise, you can increase or decrease the level of difficulty by altering your body’s positioning. Pilates mat classes use very little equipment, generally making use of economical tools, such as exercise balls, to perform an effective workout.
In addition to almost 200 mat exercises, Joseph Pilates also designed a variety of routines to be performed on specific Pilates Equipment. These specially designed machines were originally developed to rehabilitate individuals and may also be used for advanced Pilates training. Direct instruction is necessary to properly use the advanced Pilates machines. Both individual and group instruction is often available at Pilates studios.
Private, Group, or Home Pilates Classes
Depending on your level of fitness and goals, you may want to consider private Pilates training. One-on-One Pilates instruction was part of Joseph Pilates’s original design. Each exercise can be specifically tailored to meet your needs. Private instruction allows the proper mechanics of each Pilates exercise to be taught, preventing any unnecessary strain on your body. The only drawback to private Pilates instruction may be the cost, which is often $50-$100 per session.
Pilates studios and other Health Centers offer more cost-effective group Pilates classes. A facility that is primarily focused on teaching the Pilates method will have an assortment of well-trained Pilates instructors, as well as each of the many pieces of Pilates equipment. These facilities will offer you the best possible options in also providing individual Pilates instruction and rehabilitation, as well as the group classes. Group Pilates classes commonly cost around $10-$15 per session.
A convenient way to supplement your Pilates training is to practice at home. After completing several individual or group classes, you may be able to perform many of the Pilates mat exercises in your own home. Some individuals may also consider purchasing home versions of the Pilates machines. For extra motivation during a home workout, Pilates DVDs are available to introduce and guide you through additional Pilates exercises. Pilates books are also available to reinforce the mechanics of each movement you learn in class.
Finding a Pilates Instructor or Class
Pilates instructors will have varying levels of training, certifications, and experience. Additionally, not every Pilates instructor maintains the same interpretation of Joseph Pilates’ method, so find the instructor that best fits your needs.
It is recommended to find a Pilates instructor who is located conveniently in your area. Attending a Pilates training session several times per week will yield the best results, providing you with a healthy and strong body.