When you hear the word “Pilates” what comes to mind? Stretching? Women only? Injuries? Maybe even boring?! This blog is going to debunk some of the most common misconceptions about Pilates and how it’s anything but boring!
Pilates is mostly stretching…
FALSE! Mobility definitely plays a large role in Pilates but mobility is not stretching. Mobility is creating a greater range of movement along with stability within the joints, therefore, the joint is able to move more freely, which can positively affect flexibility in the process.
Pilates is all about movement. There are few moments in a Pilates class where you will stop and hold a stretch. Increasing mobility is scientifically proven to be a more efficient way of gaining flexibility, rather than sitting in a stretch for minutes on end.
Only women practice Pilates…
FALSE! Although it seems like women dominate the Pilates world, it’s not to say that men aren’t allowed or welcome in the studio. Pilates has been heavily targeted towards women as it can be practiced during all stages of a woman’s life, including pregnancy. However, this rule also applies to men, but sadly, marketing often targets females so men are left in the dark!
It also depends on the studio you attend. Pilates is popular with artistic related sports/arts like professional dancers, gymnasts, circus performers etc. These companies/sports are evenly split between males and females and all of those athletes practice Pilates to help enhance their craft, regardless of gender.
Another point to note is that Pilates was created by a male! His name was Joseph Pilates. He was the mastermind behind all the classical repertoire and had originally designed Pilates to help him with his powerlifting (among other things), which is typically known to be a male dominated sport. Also, the co-owner of Premium Pilates & Fitness is a male! Chris used to be a gym junkie before he discovered Pilates almost ten years ago! See why he believes Pilates is the perfect exercise for men by clicking here.
Pilates is only relevant for injury rehabilitation...
FALSE! Pilates is a fantastic way to help rehab from an injury but maybe that injury wouldn’t have occurred if Pilates was practiced in the first place! Pilates strengthens the deep stabilising muscles that surround the joints and the skeletal system, creating efficiency within everyday movements.
Pilates also improves balance, co-ordination, mobility, core strength (and the list goes on). All of these factors actually decrease the risk of injury in the first place, so it’s highly recommended to practice Pilates as often as you can to reap the benefits – not just when you’re injured.
Pilates is boring…
ABSOLUTELY FALSE! Whoever came up with this ridiculous assumption has clearly never attended a Pilates class in their life! Pilates is the opposite of boring. For something to be “boring”, it means the brain is not challenged. Pilates not only challenges the body, but also the mind. Even just performing a simple Pilates exercise comes with at least 10 different things to think about.
Joseph Pilates created 6 different principles that should be considered during every second of movement during a Pilates class. They are:
2. Axial elongation and core control
3. Spine articulation
4. Organisation of the head, neck and shoulders
5. Alignment and weight bearing of the extremities
6. Movement integration
Try applying all these principles while remembering the choreography of the exercise, how many reps you’ve done and check again to see if you’re still breathing! In saying this, the body begins to retain all this information through muscle memory. So, if you practice Pilates regularly, your body will remember most of the information on its own, leaving you room to focus on perfecting the movement and advancing to more challenging variations.
Reformer Pilates is more challenging than Matwork…
Some of you may find this answer surprising – it’s FALSE! Although reformer is challenging in its own right, the reformer is designed to assist you through movement. Matwork on the other hand is more challenging as there is nothing that assists you. You’re working solely with your own body weight.
Joseph Pilates created the Matwork exercises first. The reformer came a little later to help wounded and injured soldiers’ rehab in their hospital beds, hence the term reformer beds.
There is no cheating on the mat – it will let you know your weaknesses straight away. This isn’t to say that you should choose one over the other. They both have very similar benefits and it depends on what stage of life you’re at as to which class is most appropriate. Ideally, a combination of Reformer and Matwork will give you the greatest benefits.
Matwork is the best place to start for beginners as you’ll learn the basics about the 6 principles that Joseph had created. Once you’ve dipped your toes in Matwork, the other Pilates classes will make more sense and won’t be so daunting when adding equipment into the mix.
The main take away from this blog is that Pilates is for everyone and at any stage of life. There are very few other forms of movement that will give you all the benefits Pilates has to offer, and you don’t need any fancy equipment to practice it. I encourage you to hop on the Pilates train as I’ve never met a client who complained about a class being boring – ever!
Is Pilates a good form of exercise? We certainly think so! To read about the benefits of including Pilates in your exercise regime... click here.
Pilates on the mat or on the reformer, which is better? Click here to find out.