If you’ve seen Pilates pop up on your Instagram left, right and center, you’ll know that workouts are going to take some time. Enter the Steps: Our Guide to Pilates for Beginners.
New to the whole Pilates thing? Fear not, because this feature explains everything from the most common Pilates exercises (opens in new tab) For the many benefits of Pilates.
Searches for Pilates are currently on a breakout on Google, which means more people are interested in the workout than ever before. As a health ed who tried a month of Reformer Pilates (opens in new tab) For a feature last year (more on that, below), I can see why – it’s low-impact yet seriously effective, can be tailored to a beginner or more advanced level, and can be used on your own. Can be done from the comfort of home.
Not to mention it’s the go-to celebrity workout (opens in new tab) To the likes of Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber and even Harry Styles. (yes – the as it was The singer was spotted working out on a recovery machine this week).
Here, Coach Lottie Murphy, founder of Lottie Murphy Pilates (opens in new tab), Shares his wisdom. Keep sliding
Pilates for Beginners: Your Guide
What is Pilates?
First, a little bit about the workout for you. Many people confuse the difference between Pilates vs Yoga (opens in new tab), largely because Pilates is influenced by yoga. That said, they’re very different workouts and come from different backgrounds: While both are low-impact, Pilates is a mat workout that uses repetitive movements that work your entire body (mainly your core). Focuses on strengthening
“It’s hard to define in a few sentences, but the purpose of the practice is to have complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit,” shares Murphy. Essentially, it involves repeating a series of exercises (there were originally 34 but now there are hundreds) on either a mat or a reformer machine and working muscles including your abs, hips and glutes. Also expect to use smaller props like resistance bands. (opens in new tab)Pilates balls and weights.
Who is Pilates for? Well everyone. “From elite athletes to patients recovering from back surgery and everyone in between, Pilates is a great workout because of its low-impact approach and overall positive benefits it has on a person’s joints, bones and muscles,” shares Koch. Huh.
The history pf the workout is also very fascinating – Murphy points out that it was invented by a German man named Joseph Pilates. “He developed the method while being held as a prisoner of war during World War I,” she shares. “He was influenced by forms of exercise such as gymnastics, yoga, and boxing, and he also observed the movements of cats and other animals,” she shares.
In 1926, he moved to New York with his wife and opened his first studio, where he taught elite New York City Ballet dancers as well as regular citizens.
benefits of pilates
You will learn about the benefits of Pilates from our article (opens in new tab) It’s a great workout for many reasons—as Murphy points out, the benefits are truly endless.
“With over ten years of teaching thousands of clients, I’ve seen these benefits come to life and change people’s lives.” she explains. “One benefit I constantly hear from clients and that I find most striking is the sense of care and respect that people gain for their bodies through consistent Pilates practice. They find that they feel more rhythmic, more supple. And are more loving towards both their bodies. And their minds.”
Other benefits include:
- increase in power
- better muscle definition
- back pain prevention
- better posture
- boosted energy and immunity
- reduced risk of injury
- lower stress levels
- Better well-being and enthusiasm.
5 Key Pilates Terms to Know for Beginners
So, are you keen to try it? As a beginner, here are some key terms to understand to help you get started, experts share.
It’s a term that might otherwise be known as core stability, a powerhouse, or “zipped up and hollowed out,” experts share.
That said, she points out that these terms are a bit out-of-date. “Centering is about having control over your body as it moves through space,” she elaborates. “This control comes completely from your trunk, not just your abdominals, and all sides of the body have a sense of balance and stability when you do the exercise.”
Next up: If you tune into Pilates flow or go to the studio you’ll hear neutral a lot.
“Neutral can refer to all joints, but looking at the pelvis and spine is primarily referred to in Pilates,” she explains. Simply put, a neutral pelvis is when your hip bones and pubic bone are on the same plane, or axis. “It is a position where there is no tension and your body feels that it is correct in both form and alignment.”
3. Pilates Stance
Another common term used by Pilates instructors is stance. This refers to the position traditionally used when you stand on your Pilates mat.
“It’s similar to first position in ballet: Your heels together and toes apart. Think about the size of a small pizza slice,” she shares.
Reformer is simply a term to describe a type of Pilates that is performed on a reformer machine. In a reformer class, you’ll combine the traditional principals and movements of Mat Pilates, but practice it on foot bars, carriages and pieces of equipment.
This involves using your body weight on the machine to push and pull on five strings, all of which have different tensions.
Read here how Health Editor Allie Head tried Reformer Pilates for a month.
5. Normal Anatomy
Finally, it’s worth knowing some body terms in general before you go to your first Pilates class – although you’ll learn these too as you continue your Pilates practice, so you don’t need to pull out your biology books. Yes, assures the instructor.
“body parts like sacrumThe ribcage, diaphragm and pelvic floor will all become more familiar with the course of your exercises as well as the directions and degrees in which your spine and other joints can move,” she concluded.
Keen to try it? The video below from Murphy is a simple daily Pilates class that will help you learn some of the fundamentals of Pilates.
Enjoy mindful exercises as a way to familiarize yourself with some of the key Pilates techniques and correct form.