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Frequently Asked Pilates Questions

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  1. How often should I do pilates?
  2. What should I wear?
  3. Can I start with Pilates mat classes?
  4. What is the difference between Pilates and other forms of abdominal training techniques?
  5. How does Pilates differ from yoga?
  6. How do I choose a Pilates instructor? How do I know if they're good?
  7. Will Pilates tighten my abs?
  8. Can Pilates be performed every day, or should you let your body rest for a couple days in between sessions?
  9. Can an obese person do Pilates?
  10. How is Pilates different from other exercise programs?
  11. I’ve had injuries and physical problems in my lifetime. Can Pilates help me?
  12. Do men participate in Pilates?
  13. How soon after I start Pilates will I see results and feel a difference?
  14. When I look at someone doing Pilates, it doesn’t seem vigorous enough for me. Can Pilates give me a good workout?
  15. I have a bad back. Will I be able to do Pilates?
  16. If I'm doing pilates, should I still do my regular workout?
  17. How is Pilates different or better than weight training or other resistance exercise?
  18. Is it safe to do pilates during pregnancy?
  19. Who was Joe Pilates?
  20. Why is Pilates unlike other exercise programs?
  21. If I practice Pilates, what results am I likely to experience?
  22. Can't I learn and do Pilates on my own?
  23. Is the matwork enough, or do I need to train on the equipment too?
  24. Is this good for back pain?
  25. What about osteoporosis?
  26. Can I still work out if I am injured?
  27. Do I have to be an athlete or dancer to participate in Pilates?
  28. Is this work stressful on the joints?
  29. Will Pilates help me bulk up?
  30. How do I get started?
  31. Will Pilates help my sport?
  32. Should I consult my physician before taking classes?
  33. I’ve heard of the Reformer and Cadillac. What are these things and what do they have to do with Pilates?
  34. Will Pilates help me to lose weight?/ Is Pilates an aerobic exercise?/ How long will it take to see results?
  35. Am I too old (young) for Pilates?
  36. I have chronic back pain and returning flare-ups of old injuries, can Pilates help? / I was recently injured. I heard Pilates was a form of rehabilitation, will it work for me?
Hundreds

How often should I do pilates?

Two to three times a week is a great amount. Like any form of exercise, consistency is key, and it is helpful to not let too much time pass in order to remember the previous lesson and incorporate the information in your body. You will be happy at how you look and feel after just a few weeks. It is also great to combine private lessons with mat classes during the course of a week.

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What should I wear?

Dress comfortably so that your movement is free, but try not to wear clothing that is TOO loose fitting. It is important that the instructor be able to observe your body as you move. You will not wear sneakers but please bring socks.

What is the difference between machine Pilates and mat Pilates?
In machine Pilates, you will work one-on-one with a certified instructor, who has been trained extensively to design a program and modify the exercises with your specific needs in mind. Your instructor will move you from one piece of equipment to another, choosing from well over 500 exercises, after mutually assessing your specific needs and goals.

In mat Pilates, you will be one of a group of up to 20 people, performing the same exercises, at the same pace. With a mat class, the instructor may only be able to occasionally give you specific instruction, based on your movement, and will direct the group as a whole. We recommend that you only do mat classes if you are without injuries and are relatively fit and pain-free. Since there is no apparatus in a mat class, you will look to your own body to create resistance, an amazing way to connect with and strengthen your core.

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Can I start with Pilates mat classes?

Yes, you can start with Pilates mat classes, as long as you have a healthy, injury free body. If you have injuries, we recommend that your first lesson be a private one.

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What is the difference between Pilates and other forms of abdominal training techniques?

Pilates focuses on strengthening the deepest layers of abdominals which form a corset around your torso, while other forms of abdominal training focus only on the superficial layer of abs.

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How does Pilates differ from yoga?

Joseph Pilates was inspired by both eastern and western forms while developing his method, so there are many similarities. The breathing is different, and you are asked to pull your stomach in rather than allowing it to fill with breath. Pilates is also movement, rather than the holding of postures that is yoga.

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How do I choose a Pilates instructor? How do I know if they're good?

You will know if a Pilates instructor is good if they are big on positioning. Some instructors will do workouts along with you instead of checking your positioning, which could be a preferential thing. You might prefer to not have someone hovering over you. However, because positioning, concentration, and breathing are so important to getting the results you want, having an experienced instructor helping you is crucial.

As with anything, ask around. Read information about the Pilates exercises, and try instructors on for size. Some gym Pilates programs are excellent.

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Will Pilates tighten my abs?

Yes. Pilates will tighten your abs. Unlike standard gym "crunches," the Pilates exercises will tighten and strengthen all of your torso muscles, not just the center abdominal muscles. Also, with standard crunches, you're most likely doing upper-ab work, neglecting the very important lower-abdominals.

After my first pilates session, I was sore all over for the first two days. The interesting thing is that I was sore from my upper thighs all the way through my chest. The key to a good Pilates workout is positioning.

A good instructor will help you ensure that you have good form and are performing the exercises correctly. Just like with weight lifting, good form is more important than number of exercises or number of reps.

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Can Pilates be performed every day, or should you let your body rest for a couple days in between sessions?

All good training programs should follow the principles of training which means that variety should be incorporated into your daily routine. A part of a good routine should also consist of rest to allow your body to recover from the intensity of that training. Depending on your fitness level will depend on the amount of time needed to recover. A good rule of thumb would be to work one day and rest on the alternate day. You only need to do Pilates 2 – 3 times per week depending on your fitness level, therefore the other days in the week are best left to cardio vascular exercise, other forms of strength training or a combination of activities.

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Can an obese person do Pilates?

Yes, as anybody you can improve your strength, posture, alignment and in general your well being through a personalized exercise program. Promoting self acceptance and love yourself attitude is the responsibility of the fitness professional. My experience as a personal trainer that works with post-rehab and in particular obese, has been that modifying the Pilates Mat exercises and using props (wide bands, exercise balls specially chosen for this purpose) helps those that are overweight to find themselves able to participate in a group exercise class, alleviate their lower back pain, de-stressed their minds by putting all their senses into their breathing rhythm and muscle engagement. As Pilates is based on Yoga, it focuses on your inner self, promoting self acceptance and therefore helps you to control your anxiety level and becoming stronger in mind, body and as a whole human being. To really get a good balance exercise program you need to cross-train, by adding aerobic (cardio vascular) work to your program, it may be water aerobics if a pool is available in a non-judgmental setting plus a low impact, high intensity aerobic activity to burn the excess of fat. How much and how often you should exercise will have to be customized by your fitness advisor depending upon your personal goals and doctor's recommendations.

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How is Pilates different from other exercise programs?

Each exercise in the method emphasizes the strengthening of the “Core” region – abdomen, lower back, inner/outer thighs, and buttocks. Pilates focuses not only on strengthening, but lengthening and toning your entire body at the same time without adding bulk to your muscles.

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I’ve had injuries and physical problems in my lifetime. Can Pilates help me?

Yes, definitely. The Pilates method of body conditioning has a long history of helping people with previous and current injuries. During a private session, a certified instructor can give such an individual and customized workout to help address these issues.

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Do men participate in Pilates?

Yes!!! The Pilates method was designed by a man, Joseph Pilates. Everyone from professional athletes to football players and also the regular guys currently reap the benefits of Pilates.

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How soon after I start Pilates will I see results and feel a difference?

Individual results will vary, but after one session, you will experience a heightened awareness of your body, particularly your posture. You will also notice a significant improvement in your flexibility and mobility. With consistent practice, you will gain increased strength in your “core” and be well on your way to achieving true mental and physical fitness.

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When I look at someone doing Pilates, it doesn’t seem vigorous enough for me. Can Pilates give me a good workout?

When most people start Pilates, there’s a lot of new information for the body to learn, so you probably won’t get an aerobic workout at the beginning. Pilates can be aerobic at the intermediate and advanced levels when the movement patterns become more familiar. Also, Pilates combines stretching and strengthening, using springs and your own body weight as resistance This may appear easier than other forms of exercise, but you actually work harder and more deeply through the muscles. Our best advice is to be patient while your body adapts to something foreign.

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I have a bad back. Will I be able to do Pilates?

Although you should always consult your physician before starting any fitness routine, a Pilates workout is gentle and controlled with no sudden jarring actions. It is therefore more important that you work with a qualified instructor to ensure that you are doing the movements correctly. An experienced instructor will be able to modify the exercises to accommodate your limitations, continually challenge you within your range and monitor your improvements. If you commit yourself to a consistent workout schedule you will certainly feel results.

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If I'm doing pilates, should I still do my regular workout?

Pilates is a musculoskeletal conditioning program. In combination with some kind of cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, aerobics, aqua fitness, etc.), it's all you need. For people who reach advanced levels, they can actually elevate their heart rate with Pilates workouts.

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How is Pilates different or better than weight training or other resistance exercise?

  • pilates is three-dimensional (i.e. exercises can be performed using all movement planes)
  • spring resistance more closely resembles muscular contraction
  • emphasis on concentric/eccentric contraction for injury prevention
  • Pilates is customizable for special needs
  • in pilates exercise, emphasis is placed on rebalancing muscles around the joints
  • pilates corrects over-training and muscle imbalance that leads to injuries
  • pilates emphasizes balancing strength with flexibility (for injury prevention and more efficient movement)
  • Pilates leads to an improvement in posture and body awareness.

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Is it safe to do pilates during pregnancy?

Note: The following information should NOT be substituted for medical advice from your doctor. Please consult your physician for information on what will be appropriate for you during your pregnancy.

The available information on pregnancy and exercise can be very confusing – even conflicting. No two women's bodies are the same, and this is especially true during pregnancy. There are workouts that are quite appropriate for some people during pregnancy and not for others. During a normal, healthy pregnancy, moderate exercise is safe for the fetus. Exercise is also said to prevent varicose veins, hemorrhoids and low back pain and helps to boost self esteem, maintain fitness levels and prepare the body for the physical demands of motherhood.
A woman's body goes through many changes during pregnancy and exercise must be adapted and modified as the pregnancy progresses. The beauty of Pilates is that it can be individualized for anyone's ability. Workouts and schedules during the first trimester may have to be adjusted around fatigue levels. Over the course of the pregnancy the demand on the abdominal muscles should be decreased. During the second trimester these muscles become stretched out, and some women experience diastases recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). With reduced abdominal support there is a greater risk of injuring the lower back. Further, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax, leaving them loose and vulnerable. For this reason, you should be careful not to overstretch. It is important to continue strengthening and rebalancing the muscles around the joints – supporting the body as it goes through postural changes related to pregnancy.

Today many guidelines for pregnancy indicate that after approximately the 16th week of gestation the supine position (lying on your back) should be avoided as the maternal blood supply and subsequently the fetal blood supply may be affected. In the second trimester, positioning must be adjusted and small equipment (particularly the Spine Supporter) combined with the Matwork exercises becomes very useful. As well the possibilities offered by the Reformer, Cadillac and Stability Chair are helpful. Of course, drinking lots of water, avoiding overexertion and overheating are always important.

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Who was Joe Pilates?

Joseph H. Pilates, born in 1880 in Germany, was a sickly child who devoted himself to overcome his physical limitations. After studying Yoga, meditation, and the exercise regimens of the ancient Greeks and Romans, by age 14 he had mastered gymnastics, skiing, and skin diving. At the age of 32 he traveled to England where he became a boxer, a circus performer, and trainer of detectives in self defense. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was interned with other German nationals. During this period of confinement he taught fellow prisoners his growing system of mind/body development. During the latter part of the war he worked as a hospital orderly on the Island of Man, where he fashioned his first exercise equipment out of bedsprings and other available parts. Using this make-shift apparatus, the prototype of what was to become the Cadillac, he helped rehabilitate patients from injuries and illnesses. Following the war, Joe returned to Germany where he continued to develop his fitness system. But as politics in Germany were not to his liking, he immigrated to the United States in 1923 and established the Pilates studio in New York with the assistance of his wife Clara. Joe remained active training until his untimely death in 1967 at the age of 87.

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Why is Pilates unlike other exercise programs?

Unlike conventional exercise programs, Pilates focuses on developing the deep, stabilizing muscles of the body: the transverse abdominis (deepest ab), the spinal erectors, and the deep gluteals, among many others. These are postural, stabilizing muscles that enable the movement muscles to do their job. Imagine what would happen if a stabilizing muscle were too weak to effectively do its job. Another muscle would have to take over. Take the deep gluteal muscles (beneath the gluteus maximus), for instance. If they are de-conditioned, the hamstrings are forced to take over stabilizing functions they were never designed to handle. Therefore, the hamstrings become tight, and extremely resistive to stretching. In fact, you cannot solve the problem by stretching, because the underlying cause is not addressed. To free the hamstrings, you must strengthen the gluteals. The hamstrings, since they are no longer required to act as pelvic stabilizers, can now move more freely and are much more responsive to stretching. Pilates, then, conditions you 'from the inside out,' by uniformly developing all the key stabilizing muscles of the body. As a result, your posture improves, aches and pains go away, and you develop a graceful ease of movement that other people are likely to notice.

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If I practice Pilates, what results am I likely to experience?

Here are some specific benefits most regular Pilates practitioners experience:

  • increased core strength and stability
  • longer, leaner, more flexible muscles
  • increased strength without bulk
  • improved posture
  • enhanced ease of movement
  • heightened body awareness
  • improved sports performance
  • improved balance, coordination, and circulation

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Can't I learn and do Pilates on my own?

Yes, there are many good books and videos available for home learning. However, all these resources have one limitation in common: they can't give you feedback concerning your performance of the exercises. Pilates entails movement patterns and stabilization techniques that are not intuitive for most people. You may think you are doing a picture-perfect roll-up, for instance, but have you properly engaged your deep abdominal muscles to create a girdle of strength and protection around your lumbar vertebrae? As you roll up and back down are you extending through your heels to help take you out of your quads and hip flexors? Have you stabilized your shoulder girdle by dropping your shoulders down? In every case, do you initialize the movement from your central core, rather than from your shoulders? These are examples of distinctions that a well-trained Pilates instructor will help you learn and experience in your own body. By all means, practice Pilates at home, but get started with a basic matwork class, or better yet, a few private sessions. This instruction will pave the way for a much more satisfying home practice of Pilates.

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Is the matwork enough, or do I need to train on the equipment too?

Matwork is the Pilates method in its purest form. This is what Joe did, and trained other people in, before he invented the reformer, cadillac, and the other pieces of equipment. One school of thought is that the equipment exists to support the matwork. If you can do the matwork, you don't need the equipment. That viewpoint is correct to a point, but only for some people. Seriously de-conditioned people and rehab patients require the assistance of the equipment springs to guide them through movements they could never do on their own. Conversely, highly conditioned people use the equipment for their resistive features to challenge their bodies beyond what is possible with matwork alone. If you are a reasonably fit individual, your focus should be to learn the matwork. But get some equipment training to supplement the matwork. It will add a great deal of interest to your training, and it will deepen your understanding of the work.

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Is this good for back pain?

Absolutely. The combination of increased strength in the abdominal girdle (including the often ignored transverse abdominis) and back muscles, improved range of motion, and heightened body awareness are the critical ingredients for overcoming back pain. This is the core of our program.

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What about osteoporosis?

Our program meets all the criteria of an exercise program recommended for those with osteoporosis including the aspect of weight bearing movements.

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Can I still work out if I am injured?

Yes. We tailor the work to each individual's needs. The nature of this method allows the neutralization of certain areas of the body while exercising others. Due to the gentleness of the apparatus and of the exercises themselves this method is ideal for gradually working back into a functional state.

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Do I have to be an athlete or dancer to participate in Pilates?

No. This method is for anyone and everyone. We have clients ranging from 11 to mid eighties, from fit to injured, and from the general public to professional athletes and dancers, both men and women. Although this method has had a great impact on the dance community since the mid-1920's it was never intended exclusively for dancers. Joe Pilates himself was not a dancer and worked with a wide range of people.

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Is this work stressful on the joints?

No. Pilates is generally known as a gentle and user friendly form of conditioning. Many of the exercises can be performed in a non weight-bearing mode. Stress can be completely alleviated from the spine, pelvic girdle, knees, shoulders, and other joints.

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Will Pilates help me bulk up?

There are no Pilates exercises that will enable you to gain bulk. You might find definition, but definitely not bulk.

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How do I get started?

You could begin with a private lesson and then choose a suitable Pilates Personal Program, working in the comfort of your own home. As you become familiar with the movements you could then either join a group class or continue working by yourself if there is no teacher in your area. If you are lucky enough to live near a studio you may have the option of exercising on specialised equipment. As you become stronger you can progress to more challenging Pilates exercises.

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Will Pilates help my sport?

Pilates is now practiced by the New Zealand All Blacks, the England Rugby and Cricket Teams, Premiership Football Teams and many other sports people. There are specific Pilates Personal Programs for various sports and each program is designed to improve your fitness level and to help keep you injury free for longer.

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Should I consult my physician before taking classes?

It’s always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program. Also, if you’ve never exercised before, if you’re pregnant, or if you have other health concerns, please make them known to one of our staff members so we can advise you as best as possible

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I’ve heard of the Reformer and Cadillac. What are these things and what do they have to do with Pilates?

Many people have heard of the mat or floor work developed by Joseph Pilates, because most of the books, videos and classes offered cover this specific version of the Pilates’ method of physical conditioning. Although it is agreed that originally Pilates developed the mat work as the basis of his philosophies on physical conditioning, the apparatus he developed later in his career has proved to be an indispensable part of practicing and understanding the method. The Reformer, designed with a moving carriage, springs, straps, and adjustable foot bar allows clients to perform exercises lying prone, supine, sitting and standing. The Cadillac, which is also known as the Trapeze Table, is a large apparatus with poles, springs, push through bar, roll down bar, trapeze strap, and woolies. This piece of apparatus was created to address specific rehabilitative and alignment needs, as well as to assist in stretching and understanding symmetrical movement, thus transitioning the body through plateaus. The Chair, one of the most challenging pieces of apparatus, is normally used as an addition to your regular Pilates exercise recommendations, but can also be used as the sole piece of equipment during a session. Other additional pieces of apparatus include the high barrel, the spine corrector, the barrel system, magic circles, the foot corrector, the ped-o-pul, the orthopedic ball, and other small bands, balls and weights.

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Will Pilates help me to lose weight?/ Is Pilates an aerobic exercise?/ How long will it take to see results?

Pilates in and of itself is a form of anaerobic exercise. Weight is lost through a simple equation, that is, expend more energy than you consume. Pilates increases strength through lean muscle mass. Muscle consumes more calories at rest than adipose tissue. Pilates may also inadvertently help you to lose weight by increasing body awareness, and control. With awareness and control, you may become more careful with what you consume and when you consume it. Weight loss, however, is not universally accepted as a result of Pilates. On the other hand, Pilates himself said, in reference to practicing Pilates, “you’ll feel better in 10 sessions, look better in 20 sessions, and have a completely new body in 30 sessions”. To put this statement into perspective, any movement program that is practiced regularly (at least 3 times per week) will offer benefits after 30 sessions. The focus of Pilates should not be about aesthetics alone. Those individuals who have started the program at SEA and have enjoyed all the benefits are those who have approached the method as a part of their lifestyle, instead of just a quick fix.

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Am I too old (young) for Pilates?

If you are over the age of 12, there is a benefit that you can experience with a Pilates program. For those younger than 12 we do offer a youth Pilates class specifically designed for the changing musculoskeletal system of children that age. We also have clients who are in their 70’s, my mother was 70 when she started and trained with me for 2 years before moving away.

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I have chronic back pain and returning flare-ups of old injuries, can Pilates help? / I was recently injured. I heard Pilates was a form of rehabilitation, will it work for me?

Pilates is a wonderful rehabilitation tool. Because Pilates teaches re-programming of the entire musculature, it can be as gentle and simple as is required. Pilates redevelops strength, stability, balance and symmetry to areas of the body, which may have been misaligned due to an injury. If you have been recently injured, it is recommended that you first obtain a release from your physician or preferably a specialist, to participate in the Pilates Exercise Program. (Note: As a precaution for all of us, SEA requires a signed doctors release indicating that you are cleared to engage in the type of physical activity experienced in a Pilates program before you may participate in our classes or individual sessions.

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Contact Details
  • Contact Us : 8 - 10 Ironbark Ave, South Camden,NSW 2570
  • Postal Address: PO Box 6162, The Oaks, NSW 2570
  • Phone Number: 0414 264 183
  • Fax: (02) 4657 2316
  • Bank Details:Commonwealth Bank

    BSB: 062 424

    Account No: 1021 8899

    Account Name: Body Fit Australia

  • E-mail address:peter@thepilatesacademy.com.au