Why I Love Pilates

{The following post was originally written and shared in 2011.  I stumbled upon it this morning and was happy to realize that almost 9 years later, everything still rang so familiar and true to me.

Since this post was originally written, I have dove into teaching Pilates “full time”.  I realized a longstanding dream of teaching Pilates Equipment in addition to Mat Pilates. Twice I have finished in the Top Three Best of Cville; Pilates Instructors.

Teaching Pilates is a gift and an honor in my life, an outlet for sharing my passion for promoting body autonomy and empowerment.}

October 19, 2011

I wanted to title this post “Why You Should Be Doing Pilates” but I decided that sounded too bossy, so we’ll go with the top reasons I love Pilates.

It’s a great reminder that more is not always better.

Pilates principles focus on perfect repetitions with each exercise.  Pilates is all about quality over quantity, a good thing to remember with any exercise!

Form, form, and form. 

There is no place in Pilates for cheating or doing an exercise half-ass, if your form starts to fail than it’s time to rest.  This constant focus on form and alignment teaches your body to work in a balanced and symmetrical way, which will extend to other exercises and daily life.  By focusing on form on the mat you can reduce the risk of injury while performing other exercises and daily tasks as well as improve your efficiency of movement.

Flat abs.

For real.  Okay, my abs have never been fat-free but when I practice Pilates my lower belly pouch decreases/disappears and I can flex things into a four-pack.  Vanity is a great motivator. 😉

Stand up strong & tall!

Pilates is amazing for posture.  A well structured Pilates program will work on balancing out the muscles on your front and back, and the left and right sides of the body leading to improved posture and less/no pain in your shoulders and back.   Many core exercises overemphasize the abdominals and under-work the other important muscles of the torso; the upper and lower back, the hips, inner thighs, glutes, and shoulders.

Improving your posture will not only make you taller and appear more slender but can decrease pain.

Stretch as you work.

One of the reasons Pilates is known for creating lean, “dancer-like”, muscles is because with every contraction there is a simultaneous stretching and lengthening of the muscles.

Learn to stabilize.

Nearly every Pilates exercise follows the same model: stabilize through one part of the body while moving another.  Often the stabilizing happens in the torso and the movement is performed by the arms and/or legs.  This is a great model to carry over into other exercises, especially strength training.  Many exercise instructors say “engage your abs” while pumping iron but Pilates teaches you apply that statement in the most efficient way.

Love Pilates, loathe it, indifferent, or never tried it? I want to hear your reasons why you do or don’t practice Pilates!

Here’s a “Pilates Primer” for your movement pleasure 😉


    • gracefulfitness

      I wrote the post partly as a reminder to myself to practice regularly! I did a 10 minute workout last night that felt amazing, I really do believe that you can get a complete Pilates routine done is just 10-15 minutes.

  1. I have never tried Pilates, but this post makes me want to try it! I always have a hard time “engaging my abs” in yoga classes, so Pilates might help me figure this out. I will need to search for a place to take a class, or maybe download a podcast. I can always use more core work, balance and flexibility!

    • gracefulfitness

      My biggest recommendation is to start slow! It’s tempting to skip or speed thru the basics (especially for an already strong and athletic person) but it’s very important in Pilates to master the fundamentals. Enjoy!

  2. It’s been way too long since I did Pilates but I agree with you on all of these! It made my abs so strong, as well as many other parts of my body that I didn’t imagine Pilates would work. I really did feel very long, lean, and beautiful during every class. It does great things for your confidence!

  3. Mary

    Usually I just stick to yoga but I did try a Pilates class once. I thought it was too hard – but I had an instructor who liked to torture us! I should try it again from the beginning and go slower (like you said).

    • gracefulfitness

      Yes, by the time I got to the end of the post I felt like I needed to go back and write a how-to Pilates guide FOR BEGINNERS. No matter what you fitness level is, it’s important to start with the basics and find an instructor that you like, respect, and trust. I find that most mat classes are designed for people who are experienced and I don’t think that it’s appropriate for newbies to jump into any ol’ class. That’s my rant, but I still encourage you to seek out an awesome beginner-friendly instructor!

  4. Clare

    I love hearing how much you love Pilates! I teach yoga and Pilates and recently, zumba!, and I just cannot ever truly express how body, and life changing Pilates is. Back pain, byebye, in so many cases, better posture, better energy better breath, better sex life has even been reported(;. Taught correctly,it is just as holistic as yoga in my opinion. In fact, my dear yoga,pilates, and dance teacher said, (when I was telling her that sometimes I feel like I’m cheating on yoga with Pilates and vice versa, “It’s ok, because Pilates is yoga, and Dance is yoga too!”

  5. Bree

    This post makes me want to go find a Pilates class! I have done the BodyFlow class at Gold’s Gym and that infuses Pilates with yoga and Tai Chi, but I think I would really enjoy just Pilates. Thanks for the post, it was really inspiring (even just to get up and do something active in general)!

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