Pilates is a seriously good, muscle-building, mind-body workout. So it baffles me when someone says it’s simply a good stretch or a nice warm-up. While there are some stretching elements, they usually happen after first working a muscle and many exercises are a combination of flexibility AND strength.
Perhaps there are some classes out there that are done at a more gentle pace, especially a beginner class, but mine is not one of them. What I’ve found from teaching Pilates classes is that it’s usually the people doing the exercises incorrectly that are the first to demote it to a warmup. Chances are, if Pilates feels easy to you, you’re doing it wrong.
As a group fitness instructor, there are only so many times I can repeat the same cue or hands-on correct someone before I move on and hope it clicks for them next time. With other people in class, I can’t spend the whole time with one person. That’s the benefit of taking private classes.
Whether you’re a workout newbie or experienced gym-goer, it really doesn’t matter. I have had people in my classes who, based on their muscle tone, obviously workout regularly, but do the exercises incorrectly, continuing to do so even after I’ve corrected them. I can only assume it’s because they think they’re going to get a better workout doing it their way.
Listen, if you’re not doing the exercise with proper form and control, it will not work your body like it should. Even if it’s one that seems familiar such as Side Lying Leg Lifts, if your movements aren’t strong, you’re bringing your hips out of alignment to get your leg higher and moving your torso with the leg, please do not come up to me after class and thank me for the warmup.
I admit that there are some exercises that might appear to be nothing to a person walking by the class, but if you’re the one doing it, it’s definitely something.
Take Spine Stretch Forward, for instance.
It takes a lot of strength to sit straight up on top of your hip bones with your shoulders down and pull your abs in super tight to round out forward over your legs. There’s a lot that could go wrong here to make it feel like nothing, but anyone who is at least trying to hold proper form could tell you exactly where they feel it.
Pilates can make you feel lean and strong, but it takes work to get there. Pilates instructors want you to get the maximum benefit from the class and enjoy it too. If you truly weren’t feeling it in your last class and you’re not sure why, take a moment with your instructor before the next one and ask for some pointers. We’re here to help!
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What has been your experience with Pilates classes?
Photos by rosanne parket photography.