Here are some Pilates tips to make your Pilates workout, as it should be: fluid, calm, centred and controlled.
1. Prepare. Make sure your body is prepared and your position is set, so when moving your arms and legs, your stabilizing muscles are engaged and you do not lose your form. Set your core ‘in concrete’ and maintain a neutral pelvis and spine throughout.
2. Focus. Give yourself the gift of a clear mind, as this is really the only way you can succeed with Pilates as a discipline. In order to listen to your body, your mind must be clear, open and yet focussed and centred.
3. Patience and persistence. As Joseph Pilates says in his book Return to life through Contrology, “Remember, too, that “Rome was not built in a day,” and that Patience and Persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour. Practice your exercises diligently with the fixed and unalterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you from keeping faith with yourself.”
4. Concentrate. When you have a session in Pilates, time flies. You complete your session feeling restored, strengthened and invigorated! This is because nothing in the outside world interferes with your conquest of creating a perfect move; your whole being is engaged with finding the fluidity of the movement and time stops. “Concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do time improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value. Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities.” Joseph Pilates, Return to life through Contrology.
5. Teacher. Find an inspiring instructor that has your best interest at heart. You can usually get a sense of this during your initial consultation. Do they listen to you? Ask questions about your goals and also you limitations? How many years teaching experience do they have? Do they explain/demonstrate the exercise in a way that you can understand? Do they use demonstration as well as visual and tactile cues?
6. Breathe! “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Our very life depends on it.” Joseph Pilates in Return to Life Through Contrology. So often when first starting Pilates, I notice new clients forgetting to Breathe! Don’t hold your breath. Breathe with the flow and energy of the exercise.
7. Enjoy. Visualise length in each exercise. Keep the movement slow and smooth to create elegant length and strength within the body. Enjoy the feeling of your body moving.