Question: Is Pilates for you?
Answer: Pilates is for everyone. Everyone? Yes, everyone. How can that be you ask? I’ll explain.
What Pilates Does
First, Pilates is resistance training. Everybody and every body needs resistance training. If you want to function better, live longer and speed metabolism, resistance training is the simple solution. Pilates delivers resistance training via a host of large spring-driven apparatus as well as a variety of smaller devices to provide resistance as well as a tremendous volume of bodyweight exercises.
Second, Pilates is about you. It’s custom built, individualized and targeted to your body. You learn to identify an develop your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Routines are provided as guidelines but the goal is always to build your best possible body with respect to strength, stretch and total body control.
Finally, Pilates is by far the most democratic and all inclusive form of fitness that exists. Regardless of your age, exercise experience, or budget, there is a version for you.
How do you determine which version of Pilates is the right one for you? In my experience there are three types of exercisers for any given workout:
Let’s call them Gainers, Maintainers and Re-trainers.
What Type of Exerciser are You?
Gainers seek to make dramatic changes very quickly. Flatter abs, hotter arms, sleeker legs are on the short list of fast track goals. If this is you, you love to workout – love to sweat, shake and you like to record your results. You prefer big movements to small ones and you focus on a list of “what” to do.
Maintainers are no less enthusiastic but are more interested in the smaller movements and details that go into an exercise. If this is you, you want to understand the mechanics, the timing, the alignment and purpose of each move. You appreciate the form as well as the function of each move and you focus on a list of “how” each move is working your muscles. Sound like your style?
Re-Trainers are looking to offset something in their everyday life. It might be an old sports or dance injury. It could be overuse of certain muscles from a current job or hobby. Or it could be a genetic or acquired mis-alignment like scoliosis. If this sounds like you, you prefer to concentrate on specific programs and exercises for target problems. You are goal oriented and focus on the reason “why” each exercise works for your body.
Pick your Pilates
Which one are you? Your answer will determine which type of Pilates suits you best. Pilates classes come in all shapes and sizes and there are large scale equipment as well as smaller props and tools. The following are my suggestions for each Pilates style with respect to class choices and at home workout options.
Exercise Style: Gainer
You would enjoy:
- Group Classes – At a gym or a studio. You will enjoy the competitive element.
- Small Props – Look for classes that utilize weights, resistance circles or exercise bands. Variety and multi-tasking with props will help to maintain your interest while teaching you a huge amount of Pilates exercises.
- Online workouts - Find an individual online instructor you like and stick to their classes. Consistency will help you stay on target.
Exercise Style: Maintainer
You would enjoy:
- Small Group Training – Find a gym or a Pilates studio that offers small groups. Learning from o others in a group will help you learn about the mechanics of Pilates.
- Studio Equipment – Look for classes that utilize the larger pieces of studio equipment. You will benefit from the spring-driven apparatus that force you to work out with precision and focus.
- Online workouts – Find a site that offers themed workouts that target your area. You can shop around for trainers with a similar focus and attention to detail.
Exercise Style: Re-Trainer
You would enjoy:
- Personal Sessions – Try a dedicated Pilates studio and sessions with a single trainer. The partnership between teacher and student is the best way to explore the deeper side of Pilates.
- At Home Workouts – Look for a trainer that will write up homework for you to practice at home. Custom exercises will motivate you to keep up your practice.
- Online Workouts – Specialty workouts by body part will serve you well. Learning the same material from varied instructors will help you become your own best teacher.
Ultimately, there is a Pilates class or trainer that matches your exercise style and your individual needs. Try a few Pilates exercises done several different ways to test yourself and see which category you fall into. Once you’ve identified your preference, you’ll be ready to pick your Pilates.