“Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.”
– Joseph Pilates
Has your fitness routine been feeling a little stale? Or maybe you’re looking to move indoors for your workouts as fall’s chill approaches. Why not try something different? A new kind of class can make your workout feel fresh again and reinvigorate your motivation as we enter the colder months—when the temptation to conserve energy (aka couch-binge Netflix) increases exponentially.
Trying a Pilates class is an excellent way to expand your fitness horizons. A form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility, Pilates’ basic principles include breathing, concentration and fluidity of movement.
“Pilates can be a workout game changer, no matter your fitness background,” affirms Kala Fletcher, co-owner and founder of Quiet Bodies, a boutique Pilates studio in Port Credit.
Want to know what it’s all about?
We’ve assembled all the information a Pilates newbie needs to know to enjoy their first class, plus some answers to frequently asked questions.
Typical Pilates workouts tend to be 45 minutes to an hour long, and while you can practice in a gym or studio, you don’t have to. If at-home exercise is more your speed, or even if you just want to check out the movements before joining a public class, there are virtual Pilates options available too. Quiet Bodies has lots to choose from.
“When we couldn’t be open during the pandemic, I started to offer virtual classes and found they were great for people who had never tried Pilates and wanted to get a feel for the movements,” says Fletcher.
You can do Pilates with or without equipment (Quiet Bodies does have a Reformer but many of the classes can be done with a mat only). No matter what, though, you can expect the moves to involve controlled, precise movements and attention to breath. Core work is key.
“Many classical Pilates moves focus on your core,” explains Kala, “but that doesn’t just mean your abs. The core includes the entire trunk, which is the abdominals, the hips, the inner and outer thighs, and the back.”
Many Pilates instructors mix in moves specifically meant to engage areas like your arms, glutes, and lower legs. Expect a full-body workout!
As a Pilates newbie, look for classes labeled “Classical Mat” for your first point of entry. They’ll cover the fundamentals and follow an order that helps you become acquainted with activating your deep muscles.
Q. What are the benefits of Pilates?
If you’re looking for functional movement—the kind that helps you move better on a day-to-day basis while doing everyday tasks—Pilates is the perfect fit for you.
“Pilates is a full-body exercise method that will help you do everything better,” Fletcher says. “It strengthens and stabilizes your core body—your foundation—so that you can move more efficiently, while improving posture, flexibility and mobility.”
Injured? A gentle Pilates regimen is just what the doctor will order for an effective remedy. And, like other forms of exercise, Pilates has also been found to have a beneficial effect on mental health.
Q. How is Pilates different than yoga?
Both Pilates and yoga are low-impact workouts that emphasize the mind-body connection. Both workout modalities can be done with just your bodyweight, though they can involve props as well. But it’s important to recognize their differences too—mainly, their origins.
The seeds of yoga began with meditation, and the physical poses were developed to support that internal practice. Another difference?
“Unlike yoga, there is no spiritual component to Pilates,” Kala adds, “so it’s great if you’re looking to eliminate that aspect in your fitness.”
Q. Will I be sore?
“You’ll feel your muscles burn during class, and you might be sore the next day,” says Fletcher. “Even though you may not be crushing high-intensity exercises or lifting heavy dumbbells, the mostly bodyweight routines that Pilates classes offer can be pretty intense.”
Dedicating your entire focus to even the smallest movements means that you’ll work the muscles that each exercise intends. And that means you can be dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after your workout.
Q. Why did Kala choose to call her studio Quiet Bodies?
“When you’re doing Pilates, you can shut out the rest of the world,” she says. “You quiet yourself, so you can really pay attention to what’s going on physically and mentally.”
By Kristy Elik
Boutique Pilates & Movement Studio
137 Queen Street East