Ever want to rock out a Pilates routine, but don’t really know where to begin? You’ve heard that it’s a great workout, but you’re unsure about what makes it so beneficial. Well, we’d like for you to meet our fit friend Andrea Speir, LA-based Pilates instructor, who is here to share her top five tips for Pilates newbies so you don’t have to feel anxious about hitting the mat that first time.
1. Change doesn’t happen tomorrow.
With Pilates you work from the deepest layer of abdominals (transverse abdominus) to the surface muscles (rectus abdominals) with a focus on proper alignment and form. As you can imagine, this is a great workout for your abs, but it also helps to strengthen and support your core all around. Because of this, a Pilates practice can help to sculpt amazing looking abs (with a proper diet, of course!) but more importantly, Pilates helps to build strong abdominals that will keep your back healthy while supporting your spine.
Consistency is key with any type of workout, but especially with Pilates. You are essentially exercising your body how it was meant to move. So stick with it! The visible results – be it less backpain, taller posture, or a leaner physique – may take time, but once they happen they are well worth it! As Joseph Pilates said, “In ten sessions you feel better, in 20 sessions you look better, in 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”
2. With Pilates, you lose inches vs. pounds.
With this method, your focus is on lengthening and defining muscles and joint compression is minimized. You’re muscles will be more toned and defined without bulking up. I often describe it to my male clients as more of a swimmer’s body rather than a weight-lifters body. It’s possible you could lose 5 lbs. practicing Pilates on a regular basis, but if you are looking to lose more, you’ll need to add high-intensity cardio to your fitness routine. You may lose a couple sizes in clothes and appear much leaner while seeing minimal movement on the scale.
3. Your abdominals are always #1.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the countless body cues and corrections that your Pilates instructor might spew during a session. All Pilates movements start with proper alignment as a base, and for many, it’s a new way of thinking. Don’t let yourself get discouraged, and always refer back to tip #1.
The only thing that should be a constant in your mind when you begin your Pilates practice is what your abdominals are doing. Think about scooping your abdominals in toward your spine and then up along your spine. Ladies, imagine you are wearing a corset and as you tighten it, everything is being pulled in and lifted up! This will help you engage your deep transverse abdominals, be supported, and work from a safe place while achieving incredible core results.
No matter what movement you are doing in Pilates, where your shoulders are, whether you’re pointing or flexing your toes, etc… just make sure those abs are engaged!
4) Pilates is rehabilitative.
These exercises are actually rehabilitating your body. You are working to strengthen your body and, in the words of Joseph Pilates himself, “bring yourself back to health.”
This method of movement was created by Pilates to rehabilitate prisoners of World War I, and was so incredibly effective, it became it’s own form of fitness. When Pilates emigrated to New York City, his method became popular among George Balanchine’s dancers as they realized it strengthened them both on-stage and off. That is how it became known as a workout for dancers.
Because it is rehabilitative, Pilates is often used within physical therapy as it strengthens and helps heal old injuries while preventing future ones. Focusing on core work will help aid the longevity and health of your spine, pelvic alignment, placement of shoulders, posture and so much more. This is a workout for everyone, but it isn’t just to look good, It is for your health.
5) It isn’t just about your body, but also your mind.
An added bonus of Pilates is that it helps center and calm your mind. It is a mind-body style movement, similar, in this sense, to yoga. Because of the subtle details in the movement of Pilates, it demands full concentration.
If you are going through a breakup, overwhelmed at work, or have anything going on that is taking up 90% of your mental and emotional capacity, Pilates can be a great tool for you. It gives you a full hour of focus on your body, it gets your blood pumping and it stretches your muscles. The focus required in Pilates also helps to strengthen the memory side of your brain. The combined challenge of mind and body makes it a powerful exercise both mentally and physically.
So, what are you waiting for? Unroll that mat, and let your body and mind work together to create an overall healthier YOU. You deserve it, girl!
About Andrea Speir
Andrea Speir has established herself as a powerful name in the Pilates community through her playful personality and challenging classes. Her extensive knowledge of the physical body, injuries, and sports therapy combined with a background as a dancer and a 600 hour comprehensive Pilates certification through Power Pilates in New York City has given her the base to confidently shape each and every workout. The results of these workouts not only create strong and beautiful bodies, but do so in a safe and rehabilitative manner.
Andrea is an avid foodie, and she loves traveling, adventure, and a good cup of coffee.