Pilates is a series of low-impact mat-based exercises designed to improve posture, strength, flexibility, mobility and overall wellbeing.
Joseph Pilates created the technique in the 1920s.
Each exercise requires you to engage your core muscles in combination with a controlled breathing pattern to create precise and flowing movements.
- A stronger core and better posture By using the core muscles to stabilise the spine and focusing on correct alignment of the body for each exercise you will improve the way you sit, stand and move.
- Improved strength and flexibility By performing carefully chosen exercises a whole body workout is achieved.
- Increased mobility By focusing on developing your range of motion through the joints you will be able to move more easily.
- A heightened sense of wellbeing Using your concentration to get the very best out of each exercise your mind will become better connected to your body and your overall feelings of wellness will increase.
Yoga focuses primarily on flexibility. Pilates focuses primarily on core strength and body alignment.
Yoga is much older than Pilates and its origins are over 5,000 years old. Pilates was created in the twentieth century.
Yoga has a spiritual basis and often includes meditation. Pilates has no spiritual connection.
Both yoga and Pilates are good forms of exercise. The best way to decide which one you prefer is to try them.
Lateral breathing is used in Pilates. During the inhale you breathe wide and full into the lungs to increase your oxygen capacity. During the exhale you engage your core muscles to provide the greatest stability for your trunk and protection for your back. As a general rule, you exhale during the hardest part of an exercise.
Pilates & Health
There’s evidence that Pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. However, each person is unique so you should seek the advice of your doctor before starting Pilates to check it will be suitable for you.
Pilates is a gentle and effective way to stay fit as you get older and because the exercises can be adapted in so many ways it’s perfect for all ability levels.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Helps keep bones strong From the age of 35 natural bone loss occurs in the body. Pilates exercises focus on improving strength to help keep your bones healthy.
- Promotes suppleness Pilates helps to keep joints mobile and reduces stiffness.
- Improves balance Every exercise uses the core muscles to stabilise the spine and help tackle problems with balance that can cause falls and injuries.
- Relieves age-related health problems For people with arthritis Pilates helps to mobilise the joints and reduce stiffness. Pilates also helps those with osteoporosis to maintain strong bones, improve balance skills and focus on maintaining good spine alignment.
Online Pilates classes
Classes are suitable for anyone aged 18+.
They are also generally suitable for people with:
- back problems
- knee / hip replacements.
However, every person is unique so you should check with your doctor before starting Pilates to find out if it's suitable for you.
Classes are not suitable for people who are pregnant.
Classes are designed for absolute beginners and those with limited experience of Pilates.
The only equipment you need to get started is an exercise mat — I would recommend this Pilates mat from Amazon — and a small towel to use under your head.
You'll also need an internet-connected device with a built-in camera — such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop — with Zoom installed (you can download the free Zoom app here).
Using Zoom to join your online Pilates class is quick and easy.
- Download the free Zoom app
- Set up your space by positioning your device and mat so we can see each other
- 5 minutes before class, click the link you get when you book
Watch my video guide to how an online Pilates class works to find out more.
Everyone has their space set up with their Pilates mat and device (mobile, tablet or laptop) so that we can all see each other.
We start by aligning our body and practising our Pilates breathing. We then move into our Pilates exercises with a focus on slow and precise movement. We always finish with some relaxing stretches.
I provide demonstrations and talk everyone through how to perform each exercise. I also provide progressions and alternatives so that everyone is challenged and able to exercise safely.
Before and after class I like to have a quick chat to make sure everyone feels part of the group and to get feedback.
Wear comfortable clothing, eg jogging bottoms / leggings and a T-shirt.
Trainers are not worn during class but you will probably want to leave your socks on to keep you warm.
If you can't attend a class you will be able to make it up, if:
- you give at least 24 hours’ notice that you won't be attending your usual class
- you make up the missed class in the same 4-week block
- a place is available in another class.
Most people use this option when they are going away on holiday.