Pilates instructor leading a group Pilates Reformer class in a beautiful Pilates studio in Herriman UT

Pilates is a way of life. It teaches you how to move in a way that when you are on the ground playing with your kids, pushing a heavy cart in the grocery store or loading the dishwasher for example, you move with a newfound ease. You move from the spine in a way that not only protects your back from getting injured but actually starts to make it feel better. The magic bonus is that is also trains your abdominals to flatten out and creates a toned look to your physique. Many people start doing Pilates after becoming injured or while needing to rehabilitate from surgery. I wish more people got started doing Pilates before this so they could prevent injury and possibly surgery as well.

There seems to be a great stigma as to what Pilates is and what it is not:
‘It’s like Yoga.’
‘It’s too easy.’
‘I’ll be able to do it once I lose the extra weight.’
‘It’s just to stretch.’

Those are the top 4 things I hear when people who have never done Pilates inquire about more information. The truth is Pilates is an exercise method created by a German man whose named loosely translates to Joseph Pilates. He called his method Contrology. It wasn’t until after his death and a court battle over who could use the term “Pilates” did it become a household name.

Pronounced :con-tral-ogy: the study of control. Control over your body, your mind and your breath.

Joseph Pilates’ goal was to return everyone to optimal health by moving from the spine. As we all know, the spinal column is where everything originates from. Joseph was sickly as a child suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. He dedicated his life to overcoming his sickness by developing and practicing his method. In fact, the Allegro Reformer apparatus that we use in the studio originated from a hospital bed. His patent for the machine is nearly a century old. Imagine what a century-old proven method can do for your body!

Misconception 1. “Pilates is like Yoga”

Not really.

It does requires you to connect your breath with the movement and be present in your physical body while moving so in a sense that they both require mindfulness they are alike. Pilates has several different types of apparatus to use for those not able to get down and up off the ground such as the reformer, the Wunda Chair and the Cadillac.

These apparatus’ also have added resistance so you can create feedback in the muscle from nervous system to stimulate and grow. We also can create movement that provides gentle impact which is necessary for joint health and bone growth. The padded foot plate is an accessory to the reformer that we place at the end and can ‘jump’ (again with far less resistance than jumping on the group with full body weight) while lying supine, sitting upright, etc.

Misconception 2. “Pilates is too easy”

I suppose the old ‘you get out what you put into it’ can be applied here. Pilates is a way of movement unlike any other workouts.

As a personal trainer as well, Pilates is the only method I know of that requires not only breath and mind to be present but the consciousness of where the spine is relative to space. This means no matter the movement, the deepest layer of the abdominal wall, which is the transverse abdominals are engaged the entire time. It’s not easy. If you are looking for an easy workout, this is not for you.

Misconception 3. “I’ll be able to do Pilates once I lose the extra weight.”

Honestly, this breaks my heart to hear.

Pilates is so gentle on your bones and joints, I can’t think of a better workout if you do have extra weight to lose. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the stereotype that only super skinny and/or already fit (because it’s not the same thing) people do Pilates. It’s just not true.

One of the reasons we offer an introductory package of 3 Pilates sessionsis so people can get a sense that we really are encouraging and supportive of each other. And, if there is a fitness model in class, not only are the ones that vibe with A Beautiful SurpriZe completely down to earth and lovable, but you may not recognize them without the makeup and fancy lighting. 😉

Misconception 4. “Pilates is just to stretch.”

Ummmm, no.

The stretch is actually built into the movement. This is what I meant by ‘Pilates is a way of life.’ Executing a complete movement fully means not only are you working and activating the smaller muscles that shape and tone your body but you are also getting an amazing stretch at the same time. So, it’s not just to stretch. It’s to get an amazing workout and if done properly, you will also get a stretch. That is also where having an instructor to watch your movements is advantageous. We max our “Flow” classes at 6 people so you not only receive verbal cueing the entire class time but also physical ones when necessary.
Pilates is more than an exercise class you attend for an hour a few times per week. It really is a way of consistently learning how to move and better yourself each and every session. Plus, you’ll meet some really cool new friends. I’ve been lucky enough to know this method for 16 years now and I am still learning and still meeting really awesome new friends.

4 thoughts on “What is Pilates, really?

  1. I’ve never seen it explained that well.
    I am so grateful that Chantel opened her beautiful Studio in Herriman. It is the perfect place to get moving and feeling well!

    1. I am so glad you think so, Elke! This is my first official blog. In fact, I just discovered you could reply to it. 😉 . I love that! And, I truly love having you in class! We will keep adding new class times and types to keep it extra fun and effective.

  2. What beautiful and accurate definitions and explanations. The many things you learn while doing Pilates truly are life changing. I wish l had known about, and experienced, Pilates with Chantel 20 years ago because I can now imagine how different my body would have responded to aging and injuries. However, we my body and l are doing better now than l could have even imagined 5 years ago.
    THANK YOU! !

    1. That is so true, Margo. I really wish people discovered Pilates BEFORE they NEED it. Some do, but in my opinion not enough. Thank you for such a beautiful response and testimony! 🙂

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