What's Pilates?

Posted by Personal Training Department on Monday, August 14, 2017

Milestone Fitness

1. How is Pilates different from, or similar to, yoga?

The first difference is their origin.  Pilates is named after its creator, Joseph Pilates. When Pilates was a young child, he suffered from several diseases that limited his mobility, so he developed the Pilates exercises in the early 1900s for rehabilitation and strengthening.

Pilates moved from Europe to New York in the 60s and opened his own studio. High profile dancers and ballerinas became attracted to the exercise routine to build their strength, stamina, and flexibility. This dedication from the dance community is what brought Pilates into mainstream exercise trends.

Yoga originated in South Asia thousands of years ago. It has spread into many different locations and evolved with many different cultures. Today, there are many different types of yoga, including Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, and Vinyasa.

Pilates and yoga share some similarities, but they do have many differences. Both can be performed in a group class on a mat, but Pilates also has an extensive repertoire using a number of different specialized machines and equipment.

Yoga and Pilates both focus on building a strong mind-body connection. However, Pilates more highly concentrates on balancing strength and flexibility, refining movement, and improving posture for optimal health through a series of exercises as opposed to poses, like in yoga. 

Due to the emphasis placed on proper technique and movement patterns, Pilates is also often used as a rehabilitation tool for many injuries and conditions.

2. Do I need special equipment like a Reformer to do Pilates?

Although a lot of Pilates classes in studios are held with equipment and machines, it is not necessary to use them to do Pilates exercises. In fact, Pilates was originally developed on the mat, and the machines came later as a way to complement and aid the mat work.

3. Can Pilates help me lose weight?

Pilates is not typically cardiovascular, which is the type of exercise needed to lose weight. However, after learning much of the repertoire and becoming more advanced, Pilates classes move at a faster pace and therefore have an aerobic component which will aid in weight loss.

Pilates is, however, very effective in toning and shaping the musculature, which will complement very well cardiovascular/aerobic exercises and a healthy balanced diet in order to lose weight.

4. I have back problems/an injury. Is Pilates safe for me to do?

Yes, not only is Pilates safe for most people to do, it is often recommended or used by physiotherapists and other physical therapists for treatment and rehabilitation. 

The primary ideals of Pilates are improving posture, correcting imbalances, and enhancing functional movement. A lot of attention is also given to the spine and the core, making Pilates an effective tool against back pain.

If you have an on-going or specific problem, it is recommended to see your treating physician before beginning Pilates, and to start with at least 3 private sessions with a qualified instructor, before doing group classes.

5. Do I have to be flexible to do Pilates?

No, absolutely not. Flexibility is important for healthy movement, but it will come with regular practice. In the meantime, there are always modifications you can use to do all of the exercises and help you reach your goals.

Through regular Pilates practice, you can learn and develop correct movement patterns for everyday activities, reducing your risk of injury. This is particularly important for the elderly, when strength, flexibility, and agility can diminish.

6. Why is keeping a “neutral spine” important?

Neutral Spine is the natural position the spine is designed to be in for optimal spinal health, posture, and movement of the rest of the body. 

By using it as the basic position in Pilates from which most exercises start and/or hold during the exercises, we are strengthening the correct muscles that will keep this ideal posture. This in turn will prevent imbalances in the body, which can be the cause of pain or injury.

7. Can I do Pilates while I’m pregnant?

Always check with your physician first.  But as a rule of thumb... Absolutely! Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise to continue when you are pregnant. There are of course guidelines for all forms of exercise when you are pregnant, and Pilates is no exception to that. For that reason, make sure you are seeing a qualified Pilates teacher who can give you the correct modifications during class, or you can attend pre-natal Pilates classes.

As Pilates is focused on using your pelvic floor correctly, it is extremely effective and important for maintaining support in the entire pelvic structure and lower back, as well as for bladder control during pregnancy, when lots of weight and pressure is put on the pelvic floor.

Also, by maintaining your strength and fitness (particularly pelvic floor strength) during pregnancy, your ability to recover faster after birth increases. 

8. Why should I do Pilates?

Even if you don’t have a back problem or injury, Pilates promotes a healthy body and a healthy mind. It’s a fantastic form of everyday fitness and is an amazing tool for building the mind-body connection. 

To learn more about Pilates or to get rates for individual and group sessions at Milestone, call (502) 896-3900 x 115.

Topics: Fitness