A Guide to Starting Pilates

Almost two years ago, a friend of mine convinced me to try Pilates. I was very skeptical at first because in terms of exercising, I’ve always wanted instant gratification from a work out. Meaning, I feel more accomplished after working up a sweat by running a few miles than going to an hour-long yoga class.

Or so I thought.

Just one Pilates session proved my theory wrong. I was immediately hooked — and still am. So after two years of attending Pilates classes on a regular basis (usually twice a week), I asked a local instructor to answer a few questions that might debunk any skepticism you might have.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a system of over 500 controlled exercises that engage the mind and the condition of the total body. It is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training, and works several muscle groups simultaneously through smooth, continuous motion, with a particular concentration on strengthening and stabilizing the core.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

In conventional workouts, weak muscles tend to get weaker and strong muscles tend to get stronger. The result is muscular imbalance — a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body, even the ankles and feet. No muscle group is over trained or under trained. Pilates will enable you to experience an ease of movement and a being-in your body experience that is hard to describe.

Here are a few other benefits:

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

—   Tone and build long, lean muscles without bulk

—   Challenge deep abdominal muscles to support the core

—   Engage the mind and enhance body awareness

—   Reduce stress, relieve tension, boost energy

—   Create a stronger, more flexible spine

—   Improve circulation

—   Increase joint range of motion

—   Enhance mobility, agility and stamina

Is Pilates mainly for women?

Far from it. Pilates was invented by a man, Joseph Pilates, originally to improve the rehabilitation program for returning veterans from World War I. It later gained popularity with women, especially dancers, gymnasts and athletes.

What’s the best way to get started?

When you’re starting out, it’s usually best to attend one private session with a Pilates instructor. Once they teach you the principles of Pilates and show you the basics, you’ll be ready for beginner level courses.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

If you’ve never tried Pilates before, hopefully this will ease any fears you might have about the low impact, high result work out. If you’re interested in giving Pilates a try, here’s a list of local studios:

Reform Pilates
3110 Windsor Rd., Ste. A

Pilates Center of Austin
8229 Shoal Creek Blvd. #104

Westlake Pilates

3801 N. Capitol of Texas Hwy, Suite J100

Joy Moves
2499 S. Capitol of Texas Hwy, Ste. 202

Animo Pilates
1501 W. 5th St., Suite 108

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Will Anderson on March 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Some of that stuff looks awesome! Do you know if UT RecSports offers any free classes?


  2. Here’s a link to the Pilates classes that UT RecSports offers: http://www.utrecsports.org/fitwell/clinicsandseries/Fall08Reformers.php


  3. Posted by Jordyn Davenport on March 26, 2010 at 8:21 am

    As a lifelong dancer I LOVE pilates. I used to think the same thing though, that it wasn’t a good workout because I wasn’t sweating or doing crunches or anything. But then I discovered a workout DVD called Cardio Pilates by Gaiam (a company that makes a bunch of workout DVD’s) and it’s great because you’re still really toning your muscles but it moves more quickly than a traditional pilates program and you feel more accomplished at the end if you’re used to more active workouts.


  4. I’ve always wanted to try pilates. I think I would probably like to get an at-home dvd of pilates first just to get the gist of it and then try a class at UT or a local gym. I was reading in Health magazine not too long ago about all the great benefits from this workout, so it must be pretty good!


  5. This post is so helpful! I’ve really been wanting to try pilates but haven’t really found a way to start. I’ve been so tired of running and walking on the treadmill but never really had an interest in yoga because it seems a little too relaxing for me. Pilates on the other hand, seems to be the best of both worlds.


  6. Posted by dluippold on March 29, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I didn’t realize pilates is named after a guy named Pilates, that cracks me up. Otherwise, do you know how to draw the line between pilates and regular aerobic workout or yoga?


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