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Daily Archives: 11 September, 2013


Pilates for beginners

New to Pilates?…


Don’t worry! Here are the basic principles of Pilates:

  • Breathing

When breathing you should inhale through the nose and out through the mouth. Breaths should be taken before you engage the muscles. Our bodies need oxygen to heighten concentration and relax the muscles.

  • Pelvic area

You should be aware of your neutral position – a key position in Pilates. To find your neutral spine lie on the floor with knees at a 45 degree angle. Rock your pelvis back and forth as if you’re peeling yourself away from the floor one vertabrae at a time. This is to feel the tilt of the pelvis. Most people have their spines in either a tucked or tilted position. To be in neutral spine your body has to be with the lower abs flat and a small natural curve of the lower spine from the floor. Your bottom rib should also be touching the floor.

  • Rib cage area

The rib cage must also be neutral to achieve more freedom of movement. It is difficult to control the rib cage in order to breathe efficiantly but eventually you should be able to connect in your upper abdominals, inhale in to your middle back and lengthen up! You should already have a good command of your abdominals before this can be accomplished.

  • Scapular area and movement

Scapular refers to the shoulder blades. They have a lot of mobility which needs to be stablised using muscles. The shoulder blades support our spine but when this support is absent the neck and shoulders are overworked = pain! The aim is to ensure the scapulae are connected by muscles whilst fitting into the back of the rib cage with no edges popping out. There are scapula isolation exercises designed to help you attain this.

  • Head and cervical area

When sitting in neutral the skull should balance directly above the shoulders. An exercise to engage your head is to lie in neutral position, then gently nod the chin towards your chest while lengthening the back of the neck. Keep your head on the floor throughout. We put a lot of strain on the neck as our heads are so heavy so neutral position is a useful way to combat this.


Basic positions


GET STARTED! This website shows a range of good basic positions for you to begin Pilates…,9993


What are the benefits of Pilates?

How can Pilates help you?



Does Pilates increase strength?

Pilates aims to create a strong core. The muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic area are targeted and strengthened to create a robust, supportive frame for our body. The good thing about Pilates as opposed to other workouts is that the muscles are stretched and elongated – improving the elasticity of the muscles and reducing the chance of injury.

Will Pilates help me lose weight?

A one hour Pilates workout will burn a reasonable amount of calories as you strengthen and stretch. Although if you are looking to lose a lot of weight then think about incorporating a few cardiovascular exercises into your weekly routine. Pilates is a great way to increase self esteem which is closely linked with weight loss …the happier you are, the more positive outlook you have to succeed!

Can Pilates allow me to achieve a toned body?

Certainly! Pilates is known for changing the appearance of the body to create a long, lean appearance. It defines the stomach muscles to create flat abdominals, sculps the waist and shoulders and tones the thigh and bum. As Pilates is a total body exercise the results are visible from head to foot.

Does Pilates help reduce back pain?

If you have stronger muscles to support your back then there is less chance of pain or developing bad habits, like slouching. Because Pilates concentrates on the ‘core’ muscles the benefits are definitely felt in your back and seen in your posture. Eventually you will develop an understanding of proper alignment and how to protect your back from injury by using your body correctly.

Will I feel positive both mentally and physically?

You will learn how to coordinate the body, mind and spirit to work together. The integration of body and mind means you are always aware of the way the body moves. Coordination is enhanced and you will gain the most benefit out of your workout. As you begin to breathe properly you will notice the reduction of stress levels and the endorphins released will cause your mind and body to feel more positive.


Pilates for a healthy lifestyle!


What benefits can I expect in everyday life?

  • Increase in energy levels
  • Optimum performance by internal organs
  • Reduction of cholesterol and lower blood pressure
  • Reduces risk of sports related injury






Fit for Pilates?

Is Pilates suitable for you?


The great thing about Pilates is that workouts can be tailored to any age, capability or fitness level. The basic positions of Pilates are simple and easy to learn and provide a good basic knowledge for the more advanced positions. People with less mobility can make the most of the mat work that primarily uses sitting, lying and standing positions. As the movements are gentle and slow each person can find a pace comfortable for them. It is suitable for anyone who wants to improve posture, stability, muscle tone and mentality.


Pilates for back pain

Pilates helps strengthen the weak muscles and stretch those which are tense. In regards to the spine this helps the back improve in both posture and health. Over time, habits that could potentially damage the spine are replaced as the awareness of one’s body increases and the positions that promote neutral alignment become habitual.


Pilates for athletes

Many athletes practice Pilates to compliment their training regime. Cardio is good for weight loss but it is necessary to create supple and strengthened muscles in order to succeed. The New Zealand All Blacks are advocates of the method. It helps to prepare the body to cope better with injury and to develop higher levels of stamina, strength and co-ordination so performance is at a peak level. Every athlete has to warm-up before taking part in a sport/event and Pilates is just a developed series of stretches.


Remember experienced tutors can personalise workouts so that the exercise is custom-made toward the individual to maximise long term benefits.



Pilates during pregnancy

During pregnancy a womans body is subject to physical and hormonal changes. These changes are inevitable, however Pilates can help the body prepare for the challenges that pregnancy brings through prenatal exercises. Pilates will help strengthen your muscles and joints to make it easier to carry the extra weight of the baby,  and ease backache by reinforcing the muscles around your core to support the growing uterus. Mentally, Pilates exercises will provide a crucial boost of confidence and a great sense of well-being.


Pregnant pilates exercise



Many of the abdominal exercises in a regular pilates class are unsuitable for pregnant women. Precautions should also be taken when doing any supine (lying face up) exercises that includes lifting either the head, shoulders, or legs off the ground.

Any exercises that require you to lie face down are also not recommended as this could cause injury to you and the baby. Instead, modify the exercise a little and try lying on your side.


Exercises performed on the hands and knees are an ideal position for pregnant women. Not only does it take some of the strain off the back and pelvic area but towards the final stages of pregnancy it may guide the baby into the correct position for birth.


It is very important to ensure you do not do more harm than good to your body when pregnant. Therefore it is essential to seek a trained teacher who is educated in providing the correct instruction for pregnant women. Remember – listen to your body and do not do any exercises that make you feel uncomfortable.






Pilates workout!

No time for a class? Then workout at home!

A 10 or 30 minute mat based Pilates workout is the perfect addition to fit into your daily routine. Pilates does not take up a lot of space or time. There are hundreds (even thousands!) of videos on youtube which now means you can have an ‘instructor’ talking you through the steps whilst at home!


Follow these links to find some of the best workout videos on youtube…

A 15 minute workout for those people in a rush! Positions are described in detail



A 30 minute workout. A good introduction to some of the basic positions



Another 30 minute workout aimed at beginners with easy to follow instructions



A video with explanations of the more intermediate exercises that you can repeat to create a longer workout



A 15 minute advanced Pilates workout




Pilates classes

How to choose the right Pilates instructor?

With the increase in demand of Pilates classes, Pilates groups and government bodies within the exercise industry have come up with a National Standard to ensure the quality of teaching offered to the public. Before you sign up to classes make sure that your teacher is qualified so you can make the most of your classes. If you wish to check a teachers credentials then you can look for them on the UK Register of Exercise Professionals ( It is recommended that teachers be at least a Level 3 in skills and knowledge to teach Pilates matwork.

What to look out for in a successful Pilates teacher…

  • full of energy and motivation
  • understands pace and rhythm
  • caters to individuals needs and those of the group
  • shows a passion for Pilates
  • keeps the workout balanced and safe


What level of Pilates is right for me?

The best way to decide this is to take part in a class; if it is too difficult, try the level lower. If it is too easy, take a more advanced class! Your instructor should be able to advise you but, as a rule, here is what to expect in the different levels…

Basic Pilates-

This class is open to people of all ages who have never tried Pilates before, who have minor injuries, and those with a low fitness ability.  You will be introduced to the fundamental components of Pilates, learn a series of basic exercises that strengthen the core and align and lengthen the spine and hips.

The equipment used at this level is usually the mat and reformer with…

  • Some Cadillac
  • Basic Wunda Chair
  • Some peripheral equipment used to stretch and to become aware of posture
  • The Wall


Intermediate Pilates –

If you have attended classes before and want to acquire a strong Pilates body then this level might be suitable for you. As your body has already absorbed the basics of Pilates you are ready to strengthen and increase your power house (also known as core strength). Positions practiced in the basic level are deepened and new movements are introduced so that you can enjoy the full range of positions and handle them in many different ways. You should have an awareness of alignment, posture and notice a mind/body consciousness. All the equipment is used.


Advanced Pilates –

This is the level practiced by athletes, dancers, acrobats, or long-term Pilates enthusiasts with healthy, muscular, limber bodies and strong bones. There is a larger focus on the upper body and working the upper back so that the body works as whole to develop the power house in a balanced way. You should notice a uniform development of your body including powerful pelvic and shoulder stability, oppositional energy and spinal articulation. The advanced level unites complete flow and synchronization through breathing and exercises. Again, all equipment is used.


Pilates VS Yoga

Pilates and yoga are both exercise methods that work the mind as well as the body. Pilates is a method of more recent origins that will definitely give you a harder workout physically. Yoga, on the other hand, was created in India and  is designed to relieve stress in a calm environment. It is a therapeutic exercise for anyone who wants to connect with their individual consciousness in the most advanced forms of meditation. A combination of the two would be the ideal way to support an allround healthy lifestyle.


‘Yoga VS Pilates …which is better?’ …there is no definitive answer to this question. They are exercises designed for different purposes. The diagram below offers a brief insight into both so you can decide which is best for yourself!



Yoga VS Pilates