I’m new to Pilates. How do I start?
The best way to start if you have never tried Pilates is to begin with an orientation. In an orientation, a certified Pilates instructor will teach you a beginner lesson on the Pilates equipment, and then direct you to the class you would like to take.
How do I make an appointment for my orientation?
Contact Danielle Zack, Pilates Director at email@example.com or (206) 443.1111 x246.
What is the difference between mat classes and private instruction sessions?
Pilates is intended to be done one-on-one under an instructor’s supervision and guidance, and mat classes are meant to supplement the work you do with your instructor. Both are valuable, though, and will strengthen your body. Private sessions are tailored to your individual needs so if you have injuries or specific physical concerns this is your best choice. Mat classes are designed for the general population and there is less individual attention.
What are the prices?
The average cost for a single Pilates session in the city of Seattle is $71.70 per hour. The SAC offers the highest quality instruction for nearly 40% less!
- Private Session – $50
- Duet Session – $31/client
- Group Session – $25/client
How long are the lessons?
All sessions are 55-minutes in length.
What should I wear?
Please wear comfortable, fitted workout clothes and clean socks (no shoes needed).
Where do I go for my first Pilates session?
Come downstairs to the Pilates Studio, which is located across the Café next to the cycling room. Please feel free to enter and sit down next to the desk. If this is your first appointment, some paperwork will be on a clipboard with your name on it for you to start filling out. The instructor will be finishing up teaching a client, so feel free to watch. You’ll be next!
What if I make an appointment and I have to cancel?
All cancellations require 24 hours notice. All cancellations must be directly given to your instructor via email or phone messages. All appointments cancelled with less than 24 hours notice will be charged the full session amount.
Where do I go for mat class?
All Pilates mat classes are located in the Mind/Body Studio, which is across the basketball court.
Which Pilates mat class is right for me?
If you are a brand-new beginner, please come to the Introduction to Pilates Mat class on Saturday at 8 a.m. If you have very little experience with Pilates, please come to any Fundamentals Pilates Mat class. If you have some/moderate experience with Pilates, please come to any Fundamentals or Intermediate Pilates Mat class. If you have extensive experience, please feel free to come to any class, including the classes marked Cardio-based mat, magic circle mat, and Saturday’s advanced mat class.
If you have severe injuries or just concerns, please feel free to contact Danielle Zack for a recommendation.
Pilates, Women's Health
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Purpose: This exercise increases flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back, plus challenges the powerhouse. It’s a great prep for the Mat exercise, Teaser.
Starting Position: Sit on the floor facing the chair, weight just back of sit-bones. Place your feet on front edge of chair with legs together. Arms long, reaching forward, palms on raised pedal. Shoulders down and stabilized.
- Inhale; Prepare. Exhale; Nod your chin, increase spinal flexion to maintain C-curve. Engage abdominals as you press the pedal down (arms can be slightly bent).
- 2. Inhale; Lift the pedal back up with control, keep abs engaged. Lengthen the spine and release the pedal. Exhale.
- 3. Repeat 3-5 times.
Head to Toe Checklist:
- Maintain scapular stabilization to avoid neck, arm or shoulder tension
- Keep abdominals engaged throughout exercise
- Keep arms in same position relative to torso so the pedal is depressed by abdominals, not by pushing with the arms
Modifications: Sit on a foam cushion or platform extender to decrease gripping in hips.
Pilates, Strength Training, Women's Health
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Purpose: To develop abdominal control, scapular stabilization and strengthen shoulder girdle. This exercise is 100% Powerhouse, making it difficult to perform. A trained professional must spot throughout exercise.
Starting Position: Face the pedal & place the palm of your hands on the edge of the chair with fingertips hanging off. Step 1 foot on the pedal to press it down, step the other foot on. Glue your heels together and lift so you are balancing on your tip toes.
- Inhale; Keep scapulae stable and round the trunk in a pike position, scooping your abs. Float your head between your shoulders.
- Exhale; with Powerhouse strength, lift pelvis up towards ceiling allowing weight to shift into hands. For 3 counts, lift pedal higher to top of its range.
- Inhale; lower pedal down with control. Bring pedal just above base (not quite to the floor), maintain the pike position.
- Complete 3-5 reps, lower pedal all the way down. Step 1 foot left; then the other, not letting the pedal rebound.
Visualization: Imagine your are floating upward – levitating.
Head to Toe Checklist:
- Maintain scapular stabilization to avoid sinking through shoulders
- Keep head aligned with spine, think of dropping top of head toward floor
- Stabilize around shoulders and through arms to avoid losing control
- Don’t let your body rock or your hips move from side to side
Modifications: Omit the 3 count pulses.
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Pull Your Ribs In
Pilates focuses on building good posture while creating a flexible, strong, and functional body. When the abdominals are not engaged, the lower spine can “sway” or hyperextend, which can also affect the middle spine, shifting the lower part of the rib cage forward, causing the look of “sticking your ribs out”. “Pull your ribs in” is a quick way of saying “straighten up” and align your back with the proper, natural curves of the spine, nothing exaggerated.
Soften your knees
Locking, or hyper extending, your joints, including elbows and knees, can overstretch and ultimately weaken the ligaments in those joints. “Soften your knees,” means to keep them from hyper extending, which may feel like you are bending them tremendously!
“Scoop your powerhouse” doesn’t mean suck in your gut! It means this: draw your navel toward your spine, yes, but also contract your pelvic floor, cinch your whole waist like tightening your corset (which engages the tranversus abdominus) and lift your spine (elongate the spaces between your vertebrae). It’s tough! Which brings us to:
“Lift” is a quick way of reminding your body to decompress the spine and elongate the spaces between your vertebrae. It’s like “scoop” but with more emphasis on growing tall through the trunk.
“Wrap” refers to tightening the bottom in order to contract the outward rotators of the pelvis; specifically, the piriformis and the other 5 external rotators sitting under your gluteals.
Have you ever watched a ballet dancer warm up? Her feet looked turned out, toes pointed away from each other, but really the “turn-out” stems from her hips. The turnout does not need to be extreme in Pilates, but enough outward rotation in the femurs (thigh bones) to engage the bottom and draw the inner thighs together.
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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:
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!
To introduce Pilates in to your workout regime, or inquire about private Pilates instruction, please contact Pilates Director Danielle Zack.
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Purpose: As the second exercise in the Stomach Series, Double Leg Stretch continues to challenge your coordination, work the powerhouse and stretch your body.
- Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest, hands reaching toward ankles, head and shoulders lifted off mat.
- Inhale and reach the arms overhead back by your ears and your legs straight out in front of you. Raise them off the mat at about a 45 degree angle. Back must not arch off floor.
- Exhale and circle the arms around as you bring your knees back into your chest. Remain still in your torso; head and shoulders lifted throughout the exercise.
- Repeat 8-10 sets. To finish, hug both knees in toward chest, put head and shoulders on mat.
Visualization: imagine the center of your body thinning out like taffy.
- Support your neck by keeping your chin toward your chest as you stretch long.
- Squeeze your buttocks and upper inner thighs tightly as you extend your legs to support the lower back.
- As you inhale and stretch out, keep your arms straight.
- Your abs hold you down on the mat.
Modification: For a sensitive low back, begin with the legs at a 90 degree angle and gradually advance to 45 degrees. Abbreviate the arm movement if you have a delicate shoulder.
Progression: Move directly to Single Straight Leg Stretch – which will be previewed in next month’s newsletter.
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The six principles that are the foundation of the Pilates method are an approach to exercise that can benefit sports, weight lifting, yoga, dance or any form of movement. Pilates done correctly requires a strong mind-body connection that enables the body to move with less effort, allowing flowing and balanced movement. The method uses an individuals own body to its greatest advantage utilizing its own strength, flexibility and coordination and requires that the individual pay attention to his or her own body throughout the exercise.
It is important to note that Joseph Pilates did not directly set out the Pilates principles. They are concepts that were extracted from Joseph Pilates work from later instructors and because of that there are some variations in the specific words, but the concepts can be found in almost any Pilates program.
The six principles are as follows:
Over the next few months I will be focusing on one principle at a time with a hope that it can bring a new aspect to not only your Pilates workout but any of your workouts here at SAC.
Control: Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. There are no body parts that are left to their own devices.
For any exercise technique there needs to be a level of awareness that is necessary for progression. The ability to control your movement will develop as your skill level increases and the complexity of the movement increases. With practice you will always be aware of your alignment, body position, and muscle activity. How many times have you looked in a mirror while exercising and been surprised that you are not in the position you thought you were?
Progression in Pilates is not about the speed of the movement, but rather the quality of the movement. Controlled movements equal good technique which is imperative for safe, effective results.
This week as you take your session with your instructor, or hop into a mat class, think about how you can apply control to your movements and your transitions between exercises. Try this: during “Open Leg Rocker” do 6 repetitions without landing on your neck or head. Then, to transition to the “Corkscrew”, bring your legs together and take 5 or more seconds to slowly roll down to the mat, leaving your legs in the air.
Pilates, Women's Health
classes, core, health, instruction, Pilates, private, Seattle, studio