A Beginners Introduction to the Wonders of Pilates

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Are you looking for a low-impact way to get fit? Pilates might be perfect.

Every woman from Los Angeles to Miami has heard about “pilates”. But did you know it dates back to the early 1900s? The mat-based exercise was founded by Joseph Hubertus Pilates that focuses on strengthening the core, improving balance, developing flexibility, and correcting posture. 

Because it has low-impact on the joints and is customizable, pilates is ideal for beginners. It’s also linked to a wide range of mental and physical health benefits. And if you’re curious about getting started but want to learn a bit more about the basics before diving in then keep reading. 

Deciding if Pilates is right for you

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While Pilates is a fantastic form of exercise that suits most body types and ages, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Peak Pilates & Physiotherapy Director, Jason Richardson says, that a few groups of people, in particular, should check with a doctor before getting started:

“If a person has osteoporosis, are pregnant or have just had surgery. We recommend you consult your doctor and a Peak physiotherapist before joining a Pilates class.”

Once you have been given the go-ahead from your doctor then you can get started. Many pilates instructors will be happy to modify exercises should you have any physical limitations. Some pilates studios such as the online platform Pilates on Demand. Provides classes that have been specifically designed for prenatal and postnatal women.   

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“The great thing about Pilates is that there are many modifications or alternatives to make each exercise accessible, no matter what your exercise background.,” explains Pilates on Demand founder Jessica Dalliday. “Sometimes we aren’t able to perform certain exercises because of things like pregnancy, pelvic floor dysfunction, flexibility, body shape, or mobility. Pilates on Demand has Pilates Modifications Series that is all about on how to modify common Pilates moves that are difficult to do.” 

Still, some moves are never recommended for pregnant women or women who are recently postpartum. 

“Moves like the abdominal curl, the roll-up or rollback, and front planks can create a lot of pressure within the abdominal cavity,” Dalliday continues. “This can put too much stress on the pelvic floor and delay or worsen recovery. Luckily, we have classes designed specifically for prenatal and postnatal women that are safe and focus on pelvic floor health and recovery.”

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The physical benefits of pilates

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According to a study published by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Pilates offers a wide range of physical health benefits including improved abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility and upper-body muscular endurance. Richardson says other benefits include improved sports performance, blood circulation, spinal health and strength.

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“Pilates is an excellent form of exercise that has many physical benefits,” Dalliday adds. “It safely strengthens the body’s core: the small stabilizing muscles as well as the bigger, more powerful muscles. It improves posture, as it focuses on strengthening the muscles of the upper back and shoulders. And it aids in flexibility, as it focuses on mobilizing each joint, and it improves coordination and balance by working through each movement in a slow, controlled, and intentional manner.” 

The mental health benefits of pilates

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A study published in Science Direct found that pilates can be used to significantly reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.   

“Pilates, like any form of physical movement, has many mental health benefits,” Dalliday says. “Some of the benefits include decreased stress, improved thought and emotion control through the mind and body connection. Increased confidence, improved breathing control and awareness, and improved overall health and feelings of happiness.”

Richardson adds that “pilates improves overall well-being, memory, and helps to combat the side effects of cancer treatments.”

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Managing health conditions with Pilates

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Many studies research the connection between pilates and reduced chronic lower back pain. While results may vary on how much of a difference pilates can make to this condition. The general consensus is that it definitely does result in some level of improvement. 

Richardson, who is an international tennis coach-turned elite Pilates instructor, originally turned to Pilates due to his own back injury.

“Pilates can help to alleviate back and neck pain.” he says, “from osteoporosis, arthritis, breathing problems, mental health through to postural problems and joint pain.” Dalliday adds that Pilates not only alleviates such issues, it can also be used to prevent them.

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Pilates poses for beginners

If you want to give this core-strengthening exercise a try. Dalliday and Richardson say that these following poses are great for beginners. 

The Glute Bridge


The Breast Stroke


The Roll-Up


The Roll-Down


If you are ready to give your first Pilates class a try. Pilates on Demand are offering all Plantie readers a 10% discount off online classes using the code: PLANTIE at checkout!.

Pilates on Demand has a fantastic 30-day Beginner Series that will take you through a variety of classes that are great for people just starting out!


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