A Pilates Primer for Beginners

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You probably heard about Pilates from friends in the neighborhood or at your local fitness center, but do you know what it is? There are some basic principles and movements that are intrinsically entwined with this exercise phenomenon that makes it totally unique from other forms of physical exercise.

Before jumping into Pilates, you will want to “shop” around for a class or two in your area. Whether a group class or individual instruction, it is all up to you. However, since you are a beginner, you should look exclusively at group classes for beginners or private instruction for beginners.

If intermediate to advance classes are the only ones available, look into checking out some DVDs and books on Pilates to familiarize your self with the exercise and disciplines that make up this fitness program. If you understand the basic exercises and principles, you should be able to move relatively easily into an intermediate group class.

Basics You Should Know

As long as you realize that while Pilates has certain principles you should always recognize, you can adapt some of the movements to your fitness level until you progress. In regards to those principles, there are six basic ones that follow you throughout your work out. They are concentration, focusing within (sometimes called centering), control, precision, breathing and flow of movement and energy.

Understanding the principles helps you with the primary exercises that define the core of Pilates. You have to concentrate and focus on the core muscles of your body, almost like your mind is one with them.

This helps you segue into controlling your movements with exactly precision. Breathing properly allows you to hold the movements and positions and aids in the flow of movement and the feeling of energy coursing through your body.

The basic Pilates movements all relate to the core muscles along the trunk of your body – the muscles along the spine, around your hips and pelvic region and abdominal muscles. When you first start, your body will feel stiff and rigid because it is not accustomed to the stretching and movement.

However, as you progress, your body will limber up and become stronger. Your posture improves and your stomach area will be more defined. In other words, your muscles will become sculpted and elongated to create the illusion of length.

These exercises associated with Pilates are low impact, meaning people who have limited mobility could do them such as those with arthritis or general stiffness that comes with aging.

In addition, these moves can be altered a bit to suit your particular infirmities, as they often are when people practice Pilates during injury rehabilitation. In order to do that, you should really learn the basic moves, even if you may not be able to totally follow through yet.

Pilates does involve using some machines as well as the incorporation of mat exercises. If you prefer to get started on your own before finding a class, stick with the mat exercises first and get the basic moves down first. If you can do that, you should be able to tackle the machines in a Pilates class with ease.

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Originally posted 2008-12-17 14:17:34.

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