Pilates

Last updated: Jun 13, 2012

By Joy Pierce Mathews for Summit Medical Group

Reviewed by Michael R. Dunne, DPT, ATC


 

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a total-body conditioning exercise that focuses on muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. The overriding goal of Pilates is to ensure strong muscles, a lean frame, good coordination, good posture, and balance (stability). It is a low-impact way to build overall strength, emphasizing the use of core (abdominal, back, and hip) muscles, spinal/pelvic alignment, and breathing.

When thinking about what Pilates can do for you, imagine that a tree's limbs can only be as strong and healthy as its trunk and roots! Keeping your core and trunk strong is the best way to ensure that your muscles are working as a whole to support you—an approach that prevents muscles and joints in your arms and legs from being overused, used incorrectly, and getting injured.

Who can do Pilates?

Pilates is good for almost everyone, regardless of age and level of fitness.

Beginner-, intermediate-, and advanced-level classes can be tailored to meet your needs. In addition, many gyms and Pilates centers offer private and semi-private classes that can allow you to progress at your own rate.

If you are active and healthy, you can include Pilates in your weekly exercise routine. But because it is not an aerobic exercise, Pilates should be combined with exercise such as walking, running, cycling, and swimming that maintains and improves your cardiovascular fitness.

If you already engage in strength (weight) training, you can combine your program with Pilates to further enhance your fitness. Be sure to tell your Pilates instructor about your total fitness program and goals so that he or she can create a comprehensive exercise approach to maximizes your health and fitness.


If you have chronic back or even temporary acute back or leg pain,
it’s important to check with your health care NJ doctor
before beginning a Pilates program.

Although Pilates can help some people with back pain,
it might not be right for you if you have chronic or temporary acute back or leg pain.

 

What to Expect During a Pilates Class

If you are taking Pilates for the first time, your instructor will start you at a low intensity level, which he or she will increase to maximize your results. A typical Pilates routine includes 25 to 50 repeated strength training exercises. Classes usually last a half hour to an hour.

Most Pilates exercises are performed on the floor; however, you will likely use special equipment (the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair) during your class. Your instructor will explain how to use the equipment and why it is useful.

Ask if your instructor is certified in Pilates and can adjust your exercises to accommodate your needs, including any limits as a result of injuries, surgery, or other health conditions.

What You Need for Pilates

No! Although you might use special equipment when you are in your Pilates class, most Pilates exercises can be done on the floor when you are at home. An inexpensive, cushioned exercise mat is all you need to be comfortable on the floor!

You do not need special clothing for Pilates. Comfortable, loose, but not baggy, clothing that allows you to stretch and move without restriction is best. Do not wear jewelry or belts. If your hair is medium length or long, tie it back so that it does not get in the way of the equipment. You do not need shoes for Pilates because you will perform your exercises barefoot!

Benefits of Pilates

By improving the strength and stability of the abdominal and back muscles that support your trunk, Pilates can improve your:

  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Posture
  • Circulation
  • Range of motion
  • Overall fitness

In some cases, Pilates can improve neck, back, leg, and joint pain and prevent injuries as you age. Pilates is an ideal way to become more aware of your body and how it works. Like all exercise, Pilates is a great way to relieve stress and brighten your outlook!


As with any exercise program,
it’s important to see your doctor before you begin Pilates.

If you would like to start a or enhance your fitness program,
call Summit Medical Group Physical Therapy today
at 908-277-8936.

Our experts can help you get started!