Our guide to Pilates

Our guide to Pilates

First published date April 07 2014 Amended date February 24 2016

In the early 20th century a man named Joseph Pilates began developing a unique physical fitness routine, one that has come increasingly popular in recent years. But what is this fitness routine? You’ve probably already guessed correctly, Pilates. The explosion in popularity for Pilates is justified; it offers a fantastic fitness regime with an opportunity to meet new, like minded, people. So don’t stall any longer, take up a Pilates course and join in with the fun.


What is Pilates?

Pilates uses a series of exercises to help develop your flexibility, strength, muscular endurance, balance, coordination and good posture. It uses a variety of exercises, techniques and equipmentthat develop all the muscles in your body while putting a special emphasis on your core muscles.

There are six main principles that make up Pilates, these are named the ‘principles of Pilates’:

  • Concentration: The way an exercise is done is considered more important than the exercise itself. Intense focus is required to get each one perfect.
  • Control: You must be in control of every movement you make. All exercises are done with control, with the muscles fighting gravity.
  • Centre: The centre is the focal point of Pilates. All focus should start from the powerhouse (the core) and flow outward, to the limbs.
  • Flow: movements should be elegant and transitional from one to the other. This flow should help build stamina and strength.
  • Precision: Someone who practices Pilates should do precise and perfect movements until they do it correctly. There should be no wrong movements.
  • Breathing: Breathing is one of the most important aspects, it should be cleansing and invigorating. Breathing is perfectly coordinated and changes on specific exercises.


What will a Pilates course involve?

The exercises that you do will depend on the difficulty of Pilates course you take, there will be courses for all levels, from beginner to expert, and you can even have one on one sessions where exercises are designed especially for you. Most of the exercises undertaken during a Pilates course will be mat exercises. There will be a heavy emphasis on breathing. Exercises will include rigorous stretches and precise movements of muscles both on mats and other exercise machines such as inflatable balls. These exercises will usually be done in a peaceful studio in order to help you relax and take your focus away from the stresses of everyday life.


Is it for me?

Pilates is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are old, young, a fitness freak or completely out of shape, Pilates courses can be completely tailored to an individual or group level. Whether you are looking to lose weight, tone muscle or improve your strength, a Pilates course is good for anyone no matter what you want to achieve. Pilates can be changed for anyone, making it a great workout for everyone but particularly those who are older and not as mobile. There is also a very small chance of injury as Pilates is a gentle and low impact form of exercise. If losing weight is your main goal, it is advised that you do some light fitness courses that involve cardio alongside your Pilates to help for a more balanced and fat burning workout routine.


Become a Pilates teacher

Now that you’re a Pilates expert why not use those skills and transfer from learner to teacher? With more and more people taking up Pilates as their new fitness regime, there are plenty of opportunities if you want to become Pilates teacher. There are many courses that teach you how to become a Pilates teacher, and there are Diplomas, from level one to level three, that will show employers you have the required skills. Doing a fitness training course will help you gain entry to the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs); this will also dramatically improve your chances of employment.

Once you are qualified you will then have a choice either to be employed or self employed. Whichever you chose you will have to be flexible for when you work; evening and weekend courses are in demand, so many Pilates teachers work a second job in their spare time, to earn some extra money.


The benefits of Pilates

  • Improved mental outlook: Pilates will benefit your emotional health; it will train your mind along with your body. You will be more motivated and have higher energy levels throughout the day.
  • Posture: Pilates trains your core and gives more support to your spine. This will not only make you appear taller and thinner but will also help cure any back problems and will increase your mobility.
  • Confidence: Being involved in an exercise programme, especially one which puts so much emphasis on using the mind, will improve your self esteem levels.
  • Tones the body: Pilates encourages fat loss while also promoting lean muscle mass for an all round toned body.
  • Balance: Exercises will improve your balance and coordination and will offset the aging process in your muscles.