Pilates Q&A

An Introduction


Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, February/March 2004.

• Why should I do Pilates?

This method of exercise offers a no-stress approach to better posture and stronger, leaner muscles. It’s the perfect complement to aerobic exercise or it can be used to help you get back on your feet after an injury.

• What kind of benefits can I expect?

The no-impact, toning technique is designed to improve posture and body awareness and strengthen and lengthen muscle without adding bulk. An emphasis on breathing relieves stress and leaves you feeling refreshed, not exhausted.

• What kind of equipment do you use?

Many of the exercises can be done on a mat. For the full effect, exercises should incorporate specially designed resistance equipment.

• How often should I do Pilates?

For best results, many instructors recommend three one-hour sessions per week.

• Should I take private or group classes?

It depends on what you like and can afford. Because of the technique’s extensive repertoire and complexity, many instructors recommend six introductory one-on-one sessions before getting into small group equipment sessions.

• What kind of background and training should my potential instructor have?

Pilates is a knowledge-based method of exercise, so qualified teachers are those who have a working knowledge of functional anatomy and have completed an intensive certification program incorporating significant hands-on practice. Make sure your instructor is qualified to teach on all types of Pilates equipment and find out how long she’s been teaching. Some instructors teach a contemporary approach to the original method of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. This method preserves the essence of the original technique, but incorporates modern principles of exercise science.

• What is the proper teacher/student ratio?

A teacher/student ratio of 1:12 is ideal for mat work classes and 1:6 for group reformer classes. Either way you should be encouraged to work at your own pace.

• How much do classes cost?

Depending upon whether you take classes at a fitness center or a Pilates studio, prices can range from $12 for a group session to $100 for one hour of private instruction.

• Can I do the exercises at home?

Yes, but proper orientation and instruction, as well as quality equipment, are essential. Instructional videos can help you get started and keep you motivated at home.