Many people are surprised to learn that Pilates is more than mat work! When I first started taking Pilates many years ago, I was blown away by the array of apparatuses and props that were used in class. Each session was different, and I loved the variety!
Classical Pilates is based on a sequence of exercises designed by Joseph Pilates. There is a specific mat work routine, although most instructors like to add to or subtract from the routine based on the needs of their clients. For instance, if you have a bad knee, I wouldn't want you to do the kneeling exercises in the sequence. The mat work is a great foundation but repeating the classical sequence over and over again would become very boring, very fast. Thankfully, we have many contemporary exercises, and better yet - props! Props make the workouts a lot more fun...and challenging! Some of the props that you might use in a session include resistance rings, dumbbells, foam rollers, resistance bands, small and large exercise balls. You will be amazed at how much a couple of props can increase the effectiveness of your workout by adding resistance and support. I can tell you with certainty, you're never going to take "just a mat" class at Main Spring Pilates!
Pilates also has a number of apparatuses, which are sophisticated pieces of equipment that incorporate resistance by using springs and straps. Undoubtedly the most popular is the Reformer, and if you do a quick Google search, you will find quite a few articles written about Pilates reformer workouts. Our studio will have 2 reformers, as well as 2 towers and 2 chairs - photos are below for reference!
I am a champion of the Pilates apparatus workouts for many reasons:
First - you don't have to get down on the floor. I for one don't love spending a whole hour on the floor! And for many people, getting up and down from the floor isn't the easiest especially if they are just starting to build up their core strength. Our apparatuses are at least 16" high, so they are much more accessible.
Second - the resistance created by the springs is amazing. It is something that you have to experience to fully understand, but you can probably imagine how pushing and pulling against springs can increase your flexibility and build your strength. It is well known that resistance training is great for your health. And since it is low impact, it isn't going to beat up your joints. The springs can be adjusted to your specific fitness level, size and medical concerns, which is one of the things that I love - personalized fitness.
Third - the apparatuses are super supportive. The design of the apparatuses helps with good body mechanics. For example, the reformer has a head rest that supports your neck, and shoulder rests to help ensure that your shoulders aren't tensing up and touching your ears. The combination of springs, straps and bars also helps you with movements that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do, such as holding yourself up in a partially rolled back position (see photo below). This support allows you to work your entire body, including the smaller muscles. And most importantly, it helps you build strength in your core!
Fourth - the apparatuses are fun! I like to joke and say that I can do circus tricks on the apparatuses. The variety of exercises (and modifications) that we can accomplish on the apparatuses is truly phenomenal. You won't get bored with apparatus workouts!
Core strength and flexibility are so important to our everyday lives, and Pilates will help you with both. The positives of building your core strength and improving your flexibility are substantial...and different for each of us based on our starting point, our goals and our commitment to regular practice. Personally, I have developed better balance, greater ability to focus, much more strength, and pretty impressive flexibility for my age. I've worked out with people that have incorporated Pilates to help them with physical challenges, and others that have set goals to improve their athletic performance in golf, pickleball, tennis, surfing, running and other sports. I would love to help you discover how Pilates can make a difference in your life!
Our studio is opening on January 9, 2023 in Weeki Wachee, FL! We are easily accessible to anyone on the Nature Coast, and less than a 20 min drive from Spring Hill, Brooksville and Homosassa! Learn more on our website, and reach out via phone, text, email or comment below if you have any questions or want to learn more.
Have a joyful holiday season and let's get strong together in 2023!
Pilates reformer (stock photo). Clients can sit, stand and lie down on the reformer. This person is holding onto the foot bar while pressing the carriage back with one foot and rotating his torso.
Pilates chair (stock photo). This client is using the pedal for resistance to help her with exercises designed to strengthen the upper back, shoulders and chest. You can also sit on the chair with feet on the pedal, or stand on the pedal...and much more.
Pilates tower (stock photo). This client is doing the classic Pilates "teaser." The bar on the tower is giving her support to lift her body in to the "V" shape. This is not an easy exercise to do from the floor, and practicing it on the tower is one of the best ways to master this exercise.
"Saw" - stretch and rotation on the Pilates tower. The best stretch ever! Photo taken at Village Pilates in Cocoa, FL.
"Side sit-up" on the Pilates reformer. This is a great exercise for the oblique (side) muscles of the abdomen. Notice that my foot is held in place by a strap - my safety belt! Photo taken at Village Pilates in Cocoa, FL.
"Water skiing" on the Pilates tower. This requires a lot of flexibility on the way up/back, and a lot of core strength on the way down! Photo taken at Village Pilates in Cocoa, FL.