Author: Amy Andrews

Pilates Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Pilates… more than a late night infomercial.

Pilates, a system of exercise created by Joseph Pilates, was originally designed to be a one-on-one personalized workout with an instructor. Nowadays, thanks to late night infomercials and books galore, Pilates seems to be thought of as just a generic “mat class”, but the true intention is to use any and all of the spring-loaded equipment created by Joe, including mat, to find and strengthen weakness in the body. Not every body needs every exercise. The work is most effective when tailored to you.

It may help to understand where Joseph Pilates came from. Joseph Pilates was a sick child, suffering from asthma and rickets, and was determined to create a healthy body for himself. So, he studied yoga, wrestling, gymnastics and acrobatics, and throughout his life put together a series of exercises using a mat. He started teaching mat conditioning, and quickly noticed how nearly impossible it was for most people, so he knew they needed something else to support their mat work.

At the same time, he was German national in an internment camp and many of the people around him were injured soldiers. For the injured soldiers he attached heavy springs to their hospital beds, so they could strengthen their bodies from bed. This design evolved into the “Cadillac” or “Trapeze Table” that current Pilates instructors use to strengthen legs, arms, chest, back and of course abdomen.

The Universal Reformer, or another “bed on springs,” offers additional resistance in order to provide more stability or to provide an added challenge to those who need it. When Pilates is taught one-on-one (the ideal way), the instructor typically incorporates work on the reformer and mat, as well as other Pilates apparatus, based on your needs. The individual session caters to the specific needs of the client, where each exercise is systematically performed and specifically chosen for you.
The focal points of his work are to increase lung capacity, to improve core strength and to use one’s mind to control body movements. Hence, the six Pilates principles evolved: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow.

The work on the mat, where your muscles create the resistance, and the apparatus, where springs create the resistance, complement each other. As you become stronger by working on the apparatus, consequently, the mat work often becomes more challenging and fulfilling. Including private Pilates sessions in your fitness regime will better allow an instructor to focus on your individual needs, and will help you to develop the strength and flexibility necessary to correctly perform and benefit fully from the mat work.

Your workout should never feel easy, but should always present new and different challenges as you work your powerhouse deeper. So, enjoy the “journey” that is Pilates. It’s well worth the hard work!

Post-Holiday Pilates

With the holidays under our belts, we perhaps find ourselves having to loosen our belts. Can Pilates be an effective way to combat our indulgence? Absolutely! Many gym-goers will believe that additional cardio hours are required to undo all those unwanted pounds. Just the thought of it seems daunting and disheartening. The truth is that Pilates can actually change your shape more efficiently and help improve your chances of succeeding at weight loss.

For those who are not devotees of Pilates yet, incorporating this form of exercise into your routine will surely help you get back on track. In fact, often it is the monotonous workouts that put our bodies in a weight loss rut. If you need a jumpstart after the holiday season, try a class in the mind-body studio and see what the rage is all about. Also, if you have not yet made it into the Pilates studio, feel free to drop by to arrange your first, complimentary session.

If you have been devoted to Pilates for some time, you understand and see how it helps you to maintain your shape. Feeling a bit bloated after the holidays, though? Let’s change up your routine! If you take mat class once a week, try adding a second. If you only come to the studio, try one of our mat classes to supplement the workout. Also, let your instructor know your goals. Often they can give you quick reminders of how to increase your burn power throughout the workout. Adding some speed to your routine always helps, as does adding a little resistance. Even in a basic class, feel free to do your roll-up with light arm weights. If your teaser feels easy (congratulations to you!), try to add some resistance here as well. The magic circle may just become your new best friend.

In the Pilates studio, ask your instructor about decreasing the resistance. This may sound counter-intuitive, but with less resistance, this actually means more work for you. The springs support you, and without as many you certainly need to do more supporting yourself. Now, imagine both less springs and an increased speed. The beads of sweat are appearing, aren’t they?

Finally, the best way to get more out of your Pilates workout, whether a beginner or a seasoned pro, is to perform each exercise the way Joseph Pilates intended. Fully committing to each exercise means sitting up straighter, working harder at getting the extra lift in your scoop, and being more precise. We can all become a little fatigued in our workouts, especially after the busy holiday season. However, the start of 2012 is the perfect time to reconnect with your Pilates body. Breathe deeply and move with control and grace. Increasing your exertion level will absolutely increase your weight loss potential and help you to achieve results more quickly.

Pilates is supposed to be enthusiastic, and energizing. So, bring your resolutions, and yourself to class. We will be waiting for you, and are ready to help you jump into 2012!

Pilates Mat vs. Individual Apparatus Sessions – Do You Know the Difference?

Pilates, a system of exercise created by Joseph Pilates, was originally designed to be a one-on-one personalized workout with an instructor. Nowadays, thanks to late night infomercials and books galore, Pilates seems to be thought of as just a generic “mat class”, but the true intention is to use any and all of the spring-loaded equipment created by Joe, including mat, to find and strengthen weakness in the body. Not every body needs every exercise…it is most effective when tailored to you.

It may help to understand where Joseph Pilates came from. Joseph Pilates was a sick child, suffering from asthma and rickets, and was determined to create a healthy body for himself. So, he studied yoga, wrestling, gymnastics and acrobatics, and throughout his life put together a series of exercises using a mat. He started teaching mat conditioning, and quickly noticed how nearly impossible it was for most people, so he knew they needed something else to support their mat work.

At the same time, he was German national in an internment camp and many of the people around him were injured soldiers. For the injured soldiers he attached heavy springs to their hospital beds, so they could strengthen their bodies from bed. This design evolved into the “Cadillac” or “Trapeze Table” that current Pilates instructors use to strengthen legs, arms, chest, back and of course abdomen.

The Universal Reformer, or another “bed on springs,” offers additional resistance in order to provide more stability or to provide an added challenge to those who need it. When Pilates is taught one-on-one (the ideal way), the instructor typically incorporates work on the reformer and mat, as well as other Pilates apparatus, based on your needs. The individual session caters to the specific needs of the client, where each exercise is systematically performed and specifically chosen for you.

The focal points of his work are to increase lung capacity, to improve core strength and to use one’s mind to control body movements. Hence, the six Pilates principles evolved: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow.

The work on the mat, where your muscles create the resistance, and the apparatus, where springs create the resistance, complement each other. As you become stronger by working on the apparatus, consequently, the mat work often becomes more challenging and fulfilling. Including private Pilates sessions in your fitness regime will better allow an instructor to focus on your individual needs, and will help you to develop the strength and flexibility necessary to correctly perform and benefit fully from the mat work.

Your workout should never feel easy, but should always present new and different challenges as you work your powerhouse deeper. So, enjoy the “journey” that is Pilates. It’s well worth the hard work!