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Pilates 101: Find Your Perfect Shape

Updated on July 16, 2018
Crystal Concepts profile image

Crystal Concepts is a hub written and managed by a certified yoga and Pilates teacher with a Diploma in Exercises and Sports Science.

Pilates is a form of exercise that is based on six principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. Originally developed by Joseph Pilates, this exercise was first coined, contrology, emphasizing the need for the integration of the six principles in order to bring about the improvement of a person's core stength, flexibility and awareness. With the combination of these three qualities, one can achieve balanced and graceful movement.

The 6 Principles of Pilates

In order to make the most of your Pilates exercise, you should do each movement properly by keeping in mind the six principles of Pilates.

  1. Every single movement in pilates is powered by the center which is located between the lower ribs and the pubic bone. Because of this, you need to do centering or focusing on your center in order to perfect the wide array of movements that are taught in pilates.
  2. Since you will be doing some moves that you are not used to and you will need to command some muscles that you don't usually use, intense concentration is needed when doing pilates exercises.
  3. Most of the exercises in pilates will require you to assume certain positions and do some small movements that require a lot of control.
  4. When you do pilates, you need to be aware of every single body part that is involved in the movement. Every movement that you do must be done with precision. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the exercise will be reduced.
  5. Breath is very important in pilates because it is your proper breathing that will facilitate the movements done by your body during the exercise.
  6. In pilates, every movement must have fluidity and grace. Flow, not only implies the smoothness of every motion but the uninterrupted flow of the energy throughout the body.

By integrating all six elements in each movement that you do, you will be able to move with balance, grace and strength.

What's Good About Pilates?

Anyone can do it.

In Pilates, age doesn't matter. No matter how old you are, there is a Pilates exercise for you. Neither does it require a certain level of fitness. It doesn't prefer any gender either. As long as you are willing to take classes, your instructors are trained to create a Pilates program that is right for you. That's the good thing about Pilates! The exercises can be modified to suit you and you can grow into new movements as you go on.

Just make sure that you sign up for the right class. For your first time, go to a beginners' class instead of a multi-level class regardless of your fitness level. Pilates has very specific movements that focus on the alignment of your body and it would be beneficial for you to be aware of these subtle movements before proceeding to a more advanced class where these are rarely explained in depth.

It reduces stress.

Because controlled breathing is done during Pilates, it can promote relaxation. This helps eliminate stress as well as chances of having stress-related illnesses in the future.

It can improve your fitness.

Pilates can definitely improve components of fitness like flexibility, strength, joint mobility, coordintation, balance and alignment. Aside from improving your fitness, having a greater range of motion can improve your posture. This can help relieve lower back pains as well as hip and knee problems that are caused by poor posture and muscle alignment. Another effect brought about by having a well-aligned body is the improved circulation of blood and organ functions.

With a strong core and a balanced body, you can accomplish anything.
With a strong core and a balanced body, you can accomplish anything.

It will give you a better body.

Since most of the exercises in Pilates encourages you to have a better posture and keep your tummy tucked in, your body will be trained to keep this posture. Pilates can also tone your muscles. As a result of having good posture and a well-toned body, you'll look slimmer. Doing Pilates, however, is not enough to make you lose weight. It should be combined with a cardiovascular workout such as jogging, spinning or swimming, can help you lose weight. And, since it does make you stronger, it can make you perform better when doing cardiovascular workouts.

The Pilates Bible

The Pilates Bible: The Most Comprehensive and Accessible Guide to Pilates Ever
The Pilates Bible: The Most Comprehensive and Accessible Guide to Pilates Ever

I recommend this book as it is well-illustrated and contains Pilates exercises for all levels. It also has a very good section that highlights proper alignment.


What You Need To Practice Pilates

As a beginner in Pilates, you should first get yourself a mat as well as some comfortable clothing that will not inhibit your movement or cause injuries. Because you will start with basics like breathing properly and aligning you spine, you wouldn't need the other equipment yet. Of course, as you start advancing in the training, you may need to purchase a Pilates ball and exercise bands.

Pilates Props

Pilates props are used to make an exercise easier or more difficult. The small core ball, for example, can be used a means of making the exercise difficult by encouraging the practitioner to balance or easier by using it to prop the practitioner up during seated exercises. The Pilates ring is usually used for encouraging abduction or addiction (the inward and outward movement of our limbs).

Open Mind

Pilates doesn't just focus on strength, it also works on flexibility and proper posture. So, please do not come in to your Pilates class with a no pain, no gain mindset. The Pilates exercises you will find maybe very different from the grunting exercises you may find in a gym. Some may even seem or look too easy for you. If an exercise seems too easy then ask your teacher for adjustments that will make it difficult. Perhaps, for your first time, it would be smart to get a private class so the teacher can show you the mechanics of different exercises.

Which do you like better?

See results

© 2007 Shanti Rose


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Pilates is not just an exercise, but a system that should be integrated into every facet of life. In Pilates breath can be described as the fuel of the powerhouse, which is the engine that drives Pilates. The Pilates method is now being prescribed by doctors and physical therapists. The program is very effective for any fitness level. These exercises can be done while "working around" a specific injury or condition, allowing the body to heal and remain fit simultaneously.

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    • profile image

      Women's Pilates Clothing 

      9 years ago

      Great post, a lot of good information. Thanks

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Info in this hub. I love reading simple, straightforward info on pilates. It gives me some great links to pass onto my clients. Sometimes people need a little homework. I will definitely pass this hubpage onto anyone who is interested. Also, I will definitely check out your other blogs on stress management.

    • Crystal Concepts profile imageAUTHOR

      Shanti Rose 

      12 years ago from Spain

      Thanks! I have other blogs on stress management... =) Feel free to ask questions on health and wellness. =)

    • Whitney05 profile image


      12 years ago from Georgia

      Great info. Thank you... I like the reduces stress aspect.


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