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Pilates Mat Classes, Videos, Equipment, Books- What's What

Posted Aug 24 2008 5:43pm

I was inspired to write this post after a conversation with a few people on a Bookie Boo forum called, "I don't get pilates". Stephanie posted that she tried a video and wasn't really getting a good work out or feeling much after using it.

The conversation was a good reminder for me that not everyone does pilates in pilates studios or even in group classes at the gym. So here is a post on the different ways we are all doing pilates out there, and what's what with each type!

Pilates Equipment Classes

As a certified pilates instructor, this is one of my favorite ways of doing and teaching pilates. The equipment is ingenius, effective, and fun, which makes for the perfect workout! The equipment uses springs, straps, and bars for a resistance workout for your abs, arms, legs, back... your entire body.

If you've ever had trouble "feeling" pilates, I strongly suggest you try a class or private session on equipment at a pilates studio. Working out with a certified pilates instructor on the equipment is a great experience.

You may have looked into classes at pilates studios and noticed that they're more expensive than classes at the gym. There are a few reasons for this, the main ones being the individualized attention you get at a pilates studio and the expert eye of a certified instructor. However, Joseph Pilates was a brilliant inventor who came up with many small pieces of equipment that you can buy for use at home- specifically, the Magic Circle. The Magic Circle is the best piece of home pilates equipment you can buy, in my opinion, because its small, very effective, can be used in many ways for each body part, and you can also buy videos to go along with it.

The equipment is great if you want to strengthen an injury, if you have back problems, or if you want to work out on an elevated surface. The equipment provides assistance, as well as resistance, to each exercise.

Pilates Mat Classes

I teach a large mat class at my local community college, and I know there are also mat classes at gyms and and community centers as well. Many people find that taking a mat class is actually harder than using the equipment because you have no help from the equipment at all- its just you and good ol' gravity. Nice.

Mat classes aren't for everyone though, especially if you have trouble getting up and down from the floor, or if you specific injuries or issues that really need focused, one-on-one attention from an instructor.

In some ways, when you first start out with pilates, mat classes are harder to "feel" than working out on the equipment. If you have trouble feeling how the mat exercises should feel, I suggest starting over with the basics of the method. Make sure you understand how to really "connect into your center", "find neutral pelvis" and "lengthen the mid-line". When you get the hang of each of these elements of pilates, you'll have no trouble feeling the workout!

Pilates Videos

Videos are great if you're stuck in the house (especially with a new baby or kids). Videos are also good if you want to be alone or if you feel embarrassed to work out around other people.

When Joseph Pilates was creating his method, he intended for it to be done not only at studios, but also in each person's home. He came up with his mat routine and home exercise equipment for this purpose. So doing pilates at home is a very good way to introduce yourself to the method.

At the same time, I don't recommend that pilates at home should be the only way you ever do pilates. Occassionally, sign up for a class at your local studio or community center. Being around other people can energize your workout, and your mind. Listening to a live person explain the exercises can also change your perception of how the movements should be done, and it can advance you.

Pilates Books

Joseph Pilates wrote books on his method, so pilates books have been around for a long time.

Pilates books are probably the hardest way to learn pilates, though there are some great books out there. Books are hard because... how are you going to hold open a book and read it while trying to connect into your center and find your core?! I actually heard that there is a pilates book that stands up, but you still have to try to read it while working out.

Some people learn well from books and reading, so they can be helpful if you need some extra details on how to do an exercise. They're also great when you're practiced at pilates and just want to pull a book out to get some ideas for a quick floor routine when you're crunched for time.

If you're into pilates, I suggest trying a little of each of these ways of doing the method, to round out your view of pilates!

To check out the Bookie Boo forum, check out the site, , and sign up, then your can read the forum, and others like it.

This post is also published on, along with other blogs by fit-minded women and moms. Check out for many cool articles, give-aways, and forums! Read more!

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