Updated: May 15, 2022
Trying out a new workout routine can be fun and exciting yet at the same time it might push you out of your comfort zone. So, more power to you for being brave enough to try something new!
Pilates is a great way to expand your horizons, learn something new about your body, and perhaps improve other areas of your life as well. Pilates can be done as a stand alone workout or as a supplement to other exercise programs.
At Empowerhouse, we love Pilates because it is consistently challenging for everyone yet accessible to anyone.
We think Pilates is the best form of exercise(we‘re not biased or anything). It will improve your core muscles but it will also strengthen the entire body in a very balanced way. Think of it like physical therapy on steroids. Strength and flexibility are always improved equally, allowing for good range of motion and proper body mechanics.
This all might sound complicated, but it's very easy to start doing Pilates…even at home! And you need very little equipment to get started.
How To Start Doing Pilates
It is important to wear clothing that is going to allow you to move freely and comfortably through the Pilates exercises. Specifically, Rolling Like A Ball. You will want to have pants that are seamless, otherwise you’ll be rolling over the fold in your pants quite awkwardly. You also don't want to have extra baggy clothing on, especially flared pant leggings, they will just get in the way, especially on the reformer. Ideally, women should wear tight fitting, high rise pants with a tight fitted tank top for mat Pilates or reformer Pilates. Men should wear shorts or jogger pants(if wearing loose, baggy, shorts, make sure to wear bike shorts or tight fitted briefs under your shorts) and an athletic t-shirt.
Notice I didn’t say, yoga mat. In Pilates we are quite often “rolling” on the spine and you’re probably going to want a little extra cushioning for these exercises. Here’s a mat we use at home: Pilates Mat.
Where to start taking Pilates classes
Of course, we highly recommend Empowerhouse Pilates as a great place to start. This was not always the case, however. After going through the pandemic, our eyes have been opened up to the online Pilates world and we have seen our clients grow in ways they never did while working out in-person. The responsibility now falls on the student to really listen, observe, and process in their own minds what we are teaching. And our clients have grown by leaps and bounds.
In addition to your regular Empowerhouse workout, we highly recommend getting on the apparatus, especially in the beginning. A private session goes a long way in learning about your individual body, and the apparatus only amplifies this learning process. Plus, it gives different muscle groups a chance to work!
How to find a good Pilates Instructor
Once the copyright to the term, “Pilates”, was lost, ANYONE could say they were teaching it, no matter their training. Originally, you could only be trained by a disciple of Joseph Pilates himself. But today, at the end of a two-week training program, people are calling themselves Pilates Instructors.
Here at Empowerhouse, Cindy and I have each gone through the Romana’s Pilates training program which requires 700+ hours of training and successful completion of 5 exams(written and practical). In addition, each year we continue to learn and fine tune our teaching skills by taking classes with master instructors, continued teaching experience with clients and Continuing Education Workshops.
In addition, learning from a highly qualified instructor is the best way to prevent getting injured in a Pilates class.
Pilates Exercises For Beginners
The Wall - Roll Down
This exercise is perfect for beginners because you can do it anywhere you have some good wall space. It will not only get your core muscles working, but it will make you feel taller, longer, and stronger!
Start with your back up against the wall, legs in Pilates stance with your feet as far away from the wall as you need in order to get your entire back connected to the wall.
From the very top of your head, peel your spine off the wall one vertebrae at a time. Stop before your lower back comes off. Let your arms hang heavy and loose. Do sloppy circles with your arms, 5 in each direction. Roll back up the wall, one vertebrae at a time.
You can choose to use 1lb hand weights for this exercise, and if you don’t have weights you can substitute soup cans or plastic water bottles.
The Wall - Arm Circles
Lift your arms forward, in line with your shoulders. As you arms lift higher, you must keep your rib cage connected to the wall. If your ribs pull away from the wall, you’ve gone too high with your arms. Circle the arms to the side, slightly in front of your shoulders, and down by your side. Repeat 3 times and then reverse.
The Wall - Skiing
With your legs in parallel, walk your feet farther forward (about 2ft) away from the wall. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle, sitting into a squat against the wall. Keep your back flat against the wall as you lift your arms forward in line with your shoulders. Hold for 5-10sec. Press your arms down as your center pulls you back up the wall, straightening your legs. To get you started, we’re including a FREE video from the Empowerhouse library demonstrating The Wall exercises. CLICK HERE.
Laying on your back, bring your legs to a 90 degree angle(shins parallel to the mat). Keep the back of your ribs connected to the mat while you pump your arms up and down(about 6 inches). Keep your arms tense and your back steady on the mat. Use your core muscles to keep the body stabilized, no rocking back and forth as your arms pump.
Breathe in for 5 counts, out for 5 counts. Continue until you’ve repeated this breathing pattern 10 times.
The most classic Pilates exercise. Doing the Hundred in this modified way targets the transverse abdominal muscles and really gets you to connect deeply to your center. As a beginner, this will also challenge your mind body coordination of breathing in a specific pattern while you are performing this movement.
Again, the use of 1lb weights can be helpful here, if your shoulders are healthy.
Once you have mastered this version of the Hundred, lift your head off the mat until you can see your belly button. Try to hold your head up until you reach 100 pumps. Put your head down if you are no longer able to see your bellybutton.
Once you can do 100 pumps with your eyes on your abdominals, then you can work on straightening the legs to the ceiling. As your core muscles get stronger, your legs can lower closer and closer towards the mat.
Integrate Into Your Lifestyle
These are just a few beginner exercises that will awaken your mind body connection, strengthen your core muscles, and improve your posture. Outside of these specific exercises, the best thing a beginner and really anyone can do to get stronger faster, is to keep your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the day.
If you’re standing in line at the grocery store, keep your body weight forward and your abdominals in and up. If you're sitting, use your core to keep you from slouching. While vacuuming or picking up groceries, don’t forget to use your abdominals. This repeated use of your core will allow you to get stronger faster, as you will see when you get down to the mat to do your exercises.
Use Pilates to improve your life, whatever your hobbies or favorite activities. It will keep you safe from injury and allow you to keep doing what you love to do for many years to come!