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  • Writer's pictureSteph Hammond

What IS Pilates, how can it help my body & mind and where is the best place to start my journey?

Updated: Apr 16

Are you curious about Pilates and how it can help you? Maybe you're thinking of going to your first Pilates class and a bit nervous about what to expect or what’s going to happen? Yeah, I’ve been there...so thought I'd put together a little guide to help you. It's basically a beginners guide answering all the frequently asked questions I get from new clients, people I meet and also what I thought before I started my Pilates journey...


What IS Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise designed to re-address the body’s natural balance through a series of controlled movements. It was developed by a man called Joseph Pilates in the 1920s and was originally called Controlology. There are a few different types of Pilates classes, but if you’re trying Pilates for the first time, you’re likely to start with a basic Pilates mat class.

What to expect in a Pilates mat class?

Firstly, there will likely be a lot of lying down, so you'll need to be able to get down to the floor relatively easily. There are some chair based classes out there, but if you struggle to get to the floor then private sessions are prob the best route for you, certainly to start with anyway.


Pilates classes are different to other exercises classes as the teacher will likely not stay at the front of the class, or do the whole class with you...or they shouldn't! Instead they will demonstrate the exercise but then walk around (or watch closely if online) the class ensuring everyone is in the right position, correcting as they go.


Because of the importance of this personal attention, the smaller the Pilates class you choose the better experience you will have – especially if you have any injuries. You're very unlikely to get the attention and guidance you require from a group class of 12+ people. Aim for classes of 6-12 people maximum.

What does Pilates do for YOUR body?

Here are just 5 ways in which Pilates can help your body and mind...

  1. Better Posture: Feel Stronger and Taller Pilates promotes better posture and balance, it builds core strength, tone and stability all while restoring the natural curves of the spine. You will feel taller, longer and stronger from the inside out!

  2. Look Good: Get the body you always wanted Pilates works the entire body through controlled movements. This leads to increased coordination, strength, stability and flexibility, creating a sleek, toned and longer looking body.

  3. Connect your Body and Mind Pilates gets your mind in tune with your body. It helps to reduce stress and improves body awareness, leading to better posture, control, flexibility and agility.

  4. Reduce Lower Back and Joint Pain Today many people who seek Pilates are recovering from injury often related to lifestyles or physical activity (or lack of!). We are a society that is stuck behind a desk for seven hours or more per day. Pilates is proven to improve low back pain and increase tissue flexibility. It's also important to take care of our joints as we age. As Pilates is low impact, you can safely strengthen and support your joints meaning you'll keep those joints nice, free and supported as we age.

  5. Rehab and Injury Prevention Although often people find Pilates after recovering from injury, it's equally as beneficial to active individuals...so golfers, runners, athletes, footballers, cyclists, rowers, dancers and cross fitters...incorporating Pilates into your workout schedule will not only help you enhance performance but also likely keep you injury free.

Hang on, isn't Pilates just for women and old people?

One massive misconception is that Pilates is a stretchy easy exercise that old people and women do....SO WRONG!! Did you know the England football team did regular Pilates as part of their training routine for the 2020 World Cup? It's now a standard part of many sporting teams training schedules to keep their athletes strong, supple and injury free! So Pilates isn't just for women....don't forget the method was created by a man....SO MEN DO PILATES TOO! (see pic of my lovely client TC)


It's not easy either, one of the biggest surprises I get from clients (especially men!) who are new to Pilates is just how much of a challenge it can be. Yes you have your lovely mobility pre-Pilates stretchy stuff but once you get into the more juicy moves, you will sweat and it is tough....it's a great workout and you will see results quickly too!


How often should I do Pilates?

If you can do 20-30 mins every day you will reap the rewards. Alternatively, if you are looking at attending classes, you want to be looking at 2-3 times per week as a MINIMUM. To maximise the results it's best to combine with another form of exercise like walking, running, gym work, strength training etc.


Can Pilates help me lose weight?

A hot topic this one...in short the answer is NO! Pilates is a low impact exercise, sure you will burn calories but it's not going to make you lose weight...not by doing it alone anyway. Combine it with some cardio, strength training and a good balanced nutrition plan then absolutely it will help give you a more toned, slimmer appearance.

What's the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

An age old question....and simply put I like to think of it like this...

Pilates and yoga are both mind, body, and spirit practices.

Yoga is about looking from the outside in and Pilates is about looking from the inside out. So Yoga is about internalising feelings, movements, breath and has a spiritual element to each practice. Pilates traditionally has a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and is often described as more functional training as it is about using and building core strength to control movements while using the breath.

There are similarities in that they are both low intensity, low impact and accessible to anyone....but the similarities stop there. I'm a firm believer that they both go hand in hand with one another. Doing Pilates will help deepen your Yoga practice and vice versa....


What should I look for in a Pilates Teacher?

Because Pilates is so popular right now, there are a lot of different training providers offering certification using the movements of Joseph Pilates, some of them just in a weekend. So it's important to use your judgment and really get a feel for a teacher to see if they are the right fit for you. Do your research about their certification and education and check out their experience.


Don't be afraid to ask questions!

I've studied for five years and completed hundreds of hours of practice, supervision and observation. When I finished those hours, I had to sit practical & anatomy-based theory exams at each stage. I continue to study and learn so I can be the best for my clients. You can read more about my background here. To conclude...

Pilates is for anyone and everyone....it can change the way you move, walk, run, jump, play, dance, ride, workout in the gym or at home, sit, sleep and more... So are you ready to start?


Yes, I'm ready to start my journey but where can I get started?

Find a class or beginners course to get you started. Private sessions might suit you better...whatever path, take that first step!

I've got some new IN PERSON classes starting in January and also have online Live and On Demand classes running. For more info drop me a note to info@stephhammondpilates.com


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