Pilates should look and feel like a workout (not a therapy) when properly manifested. If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body. It puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance. The core, consisting of the muscles of the abdomen, low back, and hips, is often called the "powerhouse" and is thought to be the key to a person's stability. Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced or to any other level, and also in terms of the instructor and practitioner's specific goals and/or limitations. Intensity can be increased over time as the body adapts itself to the exercises.
Pilates for beginners: Explore the core
Pilates may sound intimidating, but it's an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Pilates isn't just for fitness fanatics. It's actually an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. If you're considering a Pilates class for beginners, here's what you need to know before you head to the gym.
What exactly is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance. Pilates is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed the exercises in the 1920s.
A Pilates routine generally includes exercises that promote core strength and stability, muscle control, and endurance, including exercises that stress proper posture and movement patterns and balanced flexibility and strength. It can also be helpful in training for sports or in physical rehabilitation.
Can beginners do Pilates?
It's a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren't the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.
Another common misperception is that Pilates requires specialized equipment. Maybe you've seen a Pilates apparatus — called a Reformer — that looks like a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs, or perhaps you've seen a type of trapeze table. But don't let those machines intimidate you.
The reality is that many Pilates exercises can be done on the floor with just a mat.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
By practicing Pilates regularly, you can achieve a number of health benefits, including:
Improved core strength and stability
Improved posture and balance
Prevention and treatment of back pain
Is Pilates for everyone?
If you're older, haven't exercised for some time or have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Pilates is no exception. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their health care providers before starting Pilates or other exercise programs.
Pilates can be adapted to provide a gentle strength training and stability program, or it can be modified to give a seasoned athlete a challenging workout. If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to go slow at first and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.
Let your instructor know if you have any conditions or previous injuries so he or she can assist you in modifying movements.
Because it's essential to maintain the correct form to get the most benefit — and to avoid injuries — beginners should start out under the supervision of an experienced Pilates instructor.
The TRX System, also known as Total Resistance Exercises, refers to a specialized form of suspension training that utilizes equipment developed by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick. TRX is a form of suspension training that uses body weight exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. It requires the use of the TRX Suspension Trainer, a performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete the exercises. TRX's designers claim that it draws on research from the military, pro sports, and academic institutions along with experience gathered from the TRX team, who work "with thousands of athletes, coaches, trainers, first responders, subject matter experts, professors, and service members in all branches.
Supporters of TRX Training claim that it can improve mobility and stability, increase metabolic results, build lean muscle, and develop functional strength. Other advocates of the system say that you can't help but use your core for stabilization.