What Pilates IS and What Pilates is NOT
I posted information about what Pilates is and it’s benefits but today we are going to take a look at what Pilates is NOT! In today’s fitness world, many fusion classes are being marketed toward those looking to improve their health and fitness. With names like “PiYo”, “Piloxing”, and “HIIT Pilates” it can be hard to determine what is Pilates and what is NOT Pilates.
In my previous post, “What is Pilates?”, I gave a short overview of the Pilates method and the many benefits it offers. But, how can you determine if the class you are interested in taking or are currently taking is Pilates or not?
Pilates is NOT Yoga
- Pilates does not include many standing exercises like Yoga does. So if your class contains standing poses similar to Yoga such as lunges, planks, warrior poses, or even downward dogs then it is not Pilates.
- Mat Pilates classes most often feature the traditional order of exercises that Joseph Pilates created. When taking a Mat class with a traditional teacher, you can expect a structured class. This helps the student to learn the order and focus on working on proper alignment and progressing the exercises. The focus of the class is a great all over body workout, but mainly the work is on building a stronger core or Powerhouse.
- In a Pilates class you will move the whole time. The Pilates exercises are not static, meaning you don’t hold poses like you would in Yoga. You are meant to keep the body moving both during the exercises as well as from one exercise to the next. If you are holding planks for long periods of time in your class, it is NOT Pilates.
Pilates is NOT High Impact
- Pilates is a low impact form of exercise that is kind on the joints of the body. The majority of the exercises are done in a supine position (laying on the back) and focus on building core strength.
- In a true Pilates class you will not be asked to do exercises that can be rough on the joints such as burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, box jumps, or other jumping movements. If you are doing exercises like burpees, you are NOT doing Pilates.
Pilates is NOT a Mindless Exercise
- Pilates is not a form of exercise where you can zone out and just mindlessly perform the exercises. In fact one of the “Pilates Principles” is Concentration.
- The Pilates Principle of Concentration is about bringing your full attention to the exercises. Joseph Pilates intended for his method to connect the mind and body and we see that when we are mindful of executing the movements. When you bring your full awareness to the exercise and commit to executing it fully and at your level, you will gain the maximum benefits of each exercise.
- Every movement in Pilates has a purpose, and you will learn to move with purpose. Pilates is not a mindless form of movement.
Pilates is NOT Just a Core or Ab Workout
- While Pilates does work on building core strength, it is not merely a core workout. In Pilates we work to strengthen the Powerhouse which includes the abdominals, the back muscles, hips and shoulders.
- Throughout your Pilates workout you should learn to move from your center. In Pilates we bring focus to the Powerhouse to stabilize the body and initiate movement. Therefore building greater strength in our abdominals and helping our bodies to move more effectively. Pilates is a full body workout.
- If you are doing lots of core focused movements like crunches and sit-ups and only movements like these, then you are NOT doing Pilates.
Pilates is NOT About Performing Tons of Reps
- Pilates workouts focus on quality of movement over quantity of movement.
- Awareness must be used and sustained throughout the exercises on what muscle group you are working, and the other parts of the body that are working in conjunction. Precision must be used in alignment and movement throughout the exercises in order to achieve the maximum benefits of the exercise.
- If you are performing tons of reps of an exercise then you are NOT doing Pilates. Classes that have you perform 60 crunches, 50 push-ups, etc. are NOT Pilates.
Pilates Teachers and Pilates Teaching Style
- Be sure your teacher is actually certified to teach Pilates. Pilates teachers are certified upwards of 600+ hours which includes personal practice, observation, and testing by Pilates schools, training centers and organizations.
- A certified Pilates teacher will be able to modify the exercises for you and help you to find the proper alignment in each exercise. They can teach you to incorporate the Pilates Principles into your practice and help you progress into a more intermediate or advanced practice.
- It is pretty prevalent in gym settings to find personal trainers or other fitness trainers teaching Pilates. A personal training certification does not make you a Pilates teacher. Not only are these people giving Pilates a bad name but are causing confusion of what Pilates is and sadly even causing injuries.
- Your teacher is there to teach, focus on your alignment, challenge you and keep you safe. They should not be practicing alongside you for the whole class. They are there to teach, not get in a workout of their own.
- A knowledgeable teacher will focus on alignment, anatomy and offer modifications for special cases or injuries. They should also be able to teach all levels of students at once, teaching the exercises so a beginner can do them, while offering progressions of the exercises for intermediate and advanced students all in the same class.
Will fusion classes such as “PiYo”, “Piloxing” or other Pilates inspired classes offer you a great workout? Absolutely! Will these fusion and Pilates inspired classes make you sweat, and build strength? Perhaps! However, they are not Pilates. If you are interested in trying an authentic Pilates class that will help you to create lean muscles, improve posture, gain flexibility, and gain more strength then research Pilates studios in your area. Make sure to look for a teacher actually fully certified in Pilates from a reputable training program.