How do you do Pilates exercises? The answer is simple, you find a Pilates instructor you love, you go to their studio class or press play on their online class and simply do the class!
Ta-da, as simple as that! We are totally joking, you’re most likely here because you are curious about the benefits of a consistent Pilates workout but you have no idea where to start.
Perhaps you feel resistance to pressing play on that class or walking into that Pilates studio (we know this can be intimidating!). You’ve landed on the right article because we are about to give you all the information you need to feel confident to begin your Pilates practice! We’ll even share some of our favourite Pilates moves that you can try today!
The History of Pilates Exercises
Although not necessary to know, the history of Pilates is interesting! We’ll keep it concise!
Pilates was created by German born physical trainer, Joseph Pilates. He developed a set of exercises in the 1920s for the purpose of rehabilitation, he called it Contrology. The exercises included core work, leg and arm work, balancing exercises and spinal movements, in all directions, including flexion, extension, side bending, and rotation.
Joseph was passionate about improving his health and physique as he had many health problems as a child. He practised gymnastics, boxing, yoga and other eastern exercise methods and philosophies. He took his skills over to England where he earned a living as a professional boxer, personal trainer and even as a circus performer!
In around 1914, during WWI along with other German citizens, he was placed in an Internment camp. His time in camp allowed him to observe the people around him, he noticed when movement ceased there was a loss in strength and endurance. It was here in the camp where he began to develop the Pilates Mat Work Series.
After the war, he returned to Germany, where he began to develop his many fitness apparatus’, like the Pilates reformer. In around 1925 he migrated to America. On the boat over he met his future (and third) wife, Clara. Together they opened up the very first Contrology Studio in 1929 at 939 8th Ave, in New York City.
The Studio was a success, it was known as a high class exercise salon and attracted actresses like Catherine Hepburn and celebrity ballerinas like George Balanchine and Martha Graham.
Pilates continues to grow in popularity around the world. No longer a method of exercise reserved for the elite. It’s accessible to everyone, from Reformer Studios in NYC to at-home mat Pilates classes like ours! You’ll find each teacher brings their own magic to Pilates. Some teachers prefer the classical style, while others add inspiration from Yoga, boxing or aerobics. We are sure you can find the perfect class to suit you!
Perhaps, it’s even one of our Pilates classes?! You can try this 20 minute Pilates class today. This class is designed to help you build core strength and work the booty and thighs. Even if you don’t have a Yoga mat, sign up, find some space and hit play!
The Benefits of Pilates For your Mind and Body
A regular Pilates practice will help you create a strong core, better posture and overall better fitness. But it also can be an amazing movement practice for your mind.
The physical benefits from Pilates
When you move, lift, pulse, stretch and contract your body, changes will happen. Whether you go to the fancy studios and use the Pilates equipment or you roll out your mat and do online Pilates at home with no equipment. With consistent movement, your body will change.
Pilates builds strength, creates flexibility and will increase your range of movement. It’s a total body workout, in our eyes it’s one of the most effective methods of exercise as you work on all these aspects in one flowing (and fun) session.
Pilates is a total body strength training workout but it’s rather famous for being the best core workout. For us and our MerryBody Method, the focus on the core is not to create a 6 pack. It’s to create strength in your body to hold your spine and posture correctly which leads to less back pain and reduces potential injury. It’s to create better balance, so you’re less likely to fall and hurt yourself (very important as you age!). It’s about creating inner confidence. And then, think of the flow on effect from all these physical benefits! Yes, Pilates is amazing!
Less stress, less anxiety!
Pilates exercises are connected with the breath, therefore it creates mind, body connection. You’ll notice as you do your first Pilates class (and every class after that) you feel a deep sense of presence and connectedness.
Do you notice when you feel present that there is less space for stress and anxiety?
Release those feel-good hormones!
Any exercise triggers the natural production of the feel-good hormones in your body. Get ready for the release of dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins and serotonin. This bodily function makes you feel happiness and love!
Are you ready to hit play on that Pilates class around now!?
3 Pilates Exercises to Try Now!
If you’re feeling inspired to move your body, now is the time! Don’t waste that feeling!
Here are 3 of our most favourite moves. You don’t need any equipment at all, just your amazing body.
Ohhh, do we love us some booty lifts! So many options, feet flat, on the tippy toes, knees wide. You will feel your booty and hamstrings work!
Start by laying on your back, bending your knees with feet flat on the floor, about hip width apart. Extend your arms, palms flat on the ground, you should be able to just reach your heels with your fingertips.
Inhale to prepare and exhale to lift the booty high, inhale to lower, exhale lift. Repeat 20 times.
Ensure to keep your upper body, head and neck stabilised on the ground. Then hold high and pulse at the top for 30! Then, do the same thing but on your tippy toes! Oh yes, get ready to feel it!
Lower Ab Toe Taps
When you think of a core workout you might think of crunches. Our preference is to keep the upper body down on the earth. We feel this offers an even deeper core workout, you have more control and it allows you to draw the core muscles inwards and upwards with greater integrity.
Start on your back, knees bent and feet flat, arms reaching towards the feet, palms flat on floor. Inhale to prepare and exhale bend the knees at a 45-degree angle. Shins are parallel to the earth, knees bent directly above the hips. Remember, these cues are a guide, it’s all about trying your best and focusing on your progress.
Inhale to hinge the left leg down to the Earth, keep knee bent and tap toes to earth, exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Then swap to the right leg.
All 4s Arm and Leg Extension
An all 4s sequence will work your entire body. The work comes from the movement but also the stability work. That’s right, you need to use your core to create precise and controlled movements!
Begin on your all 4s, knees under hips, wrists under shoulders. Core is strong with a rib to hip connection, also keep your neck long, don’t drop it, imagine a straight line from the spine (of course, keep your natural curve of the spine).
Extend your right leg behind you, extend your left arm out in front. Toes and finger tips are gently resting on the ground. Inhale to prepare and exhale lift both leg and arm, to shoulder height. Inhale to lower, exhale to lift. Repeat 20 times, then pulse high for 20 and swap to the other side!
When you’re moving, really point the toes, think arms and legs straight in front and behind you, think arms and legs extended.
Oh yeah, there’s so much to think about! This is why it’s important to follow a trained Pilates teacher to remind you of all these things!
We know if you do these 3 movements you will feel the magic of Pilates!
But, imagine a whole sequenced and flowing class.
Imagine a class where one exercise moves you to the next.
A class where you are totally enthralled with the movement that you forget about the time and BOOM, you’ve ticked off 25 minutes of exercise.
This is what our MerryBody Pilates will do for you.
Online classes where you don’t look at the clock. Exercise that does not feel like a chore, it actually becomes something you look forward to!
The only thing left for you to do is sign up for this free Pilates mat-based class. We will send it directly to your inbox. You don’t need any equipment, no weights, no resistance band, just you! Do the class then direct message us on Instagram and tell us all about it! You can find us over @themerrymakersisters.
We can’t wait to hear from you!
Emma + Carla
Ps. Hear from one of our MerryBody Members.