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Pilates 101 – (Lost?) “Principles of Pilates”

In a time of Pilates in abundance studios, teachers, and a variety of clients it has definitely taken on many roles and there is a much broader array of exercises (classic, modified, and non-traditional Pilates) movements being implemented in one’s sessions today. Positive outcomes have reached any where from freeing one from aching low back, neck, shoulders, hips; getting that toned, slimmed  physique; improved posture, de-stressed, enhanced confidence, self-esteem, balance.  The list can go on and on.

On another note, Pilates in abundance of taking many roles has many times lost the primary principles (Breath, Flow, Centering, Control, Flow, Precision) and unfortunately have times resulted in just the reverse of the positive outcomes above, including worsened posture and sometimes even injury.  As a Pilates Teacher and Studio Owner of almost 10 years, I have seen this unfortunate situation with new clients walking through my door many times that have had prior Pilates sessions.  Many times this is a result of primary Pilates principles were not implemented or practiced or even introduced at the get go of one’s Pilates trainings and work-outs.  Instead the clients where initially pleased by getting a kick-butt work-out that resulted in working the same over used muscle groups (low back, quadriceps, hip flexors, rectus abdominals, and upper trapezius muscles).

Don’t get me wrong, Pilates IS a kick-butt work-out but when done following primary principles of Pilates (mentioned above) you are initiating with the strength and endurance (or building strength/endurance) with a whole different set of muscles primarily called postural muscles or Pilates “Core” (respiratory, transverse abdominal, pelvic floor, multifidi) as well as strengthening the many times underused extensor and balance muscles such as: hamstrings, gluteus, adductors, low & mid trapezius, serratus.  With the strength and endurance of these new found muscles you now have the posture, flexibility, range of motion, to support you through your Pilates exercises and daily living activities.  This results in actually working more muscles at the same time getting you a FULL Body work-out versus just working out the same old tired muscles (low back, quadriceps, hip flexors, rectus abdominals, and upper trapezius muscles) that it eventually will lead to worsened posture and possibly even injury of over use.

So next time your are in your Pilates class, take inventory, are you ….. 

1. Breathing?  And then if you are, is your breathe efficient creating the flow of your movement

2. What muscles are you really using to get your Posture in position and in motion? Are they your same old big muscle groups are do you have the intricate Pilates core/postural muscles invited to the party too?

3. Where are your movements initiating from?  Are your Pilates “core” muscles even “turned on” contracted?

4. Are your movements flowing, “look” (not feel) like they are being performed easily or are you pushing, shoving, punching, gritting teeth and holding your breathe?

5. Are you being patient with yourself to learn new tricks rather then using your same old habits?

For more information, questions, comments respond to the comment section below. We would love to hear back from you.

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