Judging by the number of Pilates classes now offered by regular gyms or Yoga studios, Pilates seems as simple as just joining a group class and following along. However, in Pilates understanding and then mastering the technique is essential.
You’ll get more out of what you are putting into it and reduce the risk of injury.
The correct Pilates technique will ensure that you work the right muscles of your body at the right time, thus preventing injury or the risk of further unbalancing your body.
In other words, proper technique ensures that the muscles that should be working are, and those that should not be bearing the load are not.
Following the correct technique consistently, will build muscle memory, ensuring that your muscles and joints learn to align and operate in the optimal way to reach full strength and stability, correcting misalignments and injuries along the way. Just like learning to dance or playing tennis, over time, the muscles of your entire body will move and align how your body was designed to move. As little as 2 classes per week can restore alignment to your body and have lasting benefits.
You’ll burn more calories when you strive for optimal technique and achieve a more even, lean body. Pilates' focus is on strengthening both the mobiliser and stabiliser muscles. Each exercise, even when it involves simply moving your leg, as in leg circles for example, engages both the muscles that move the leg, but also those that stabilise and support the central and entire body. This makes Pilates such a mentally focused, effective and calorie-burning workout, without adding bulk to your frame.
You'll gain better focus. The proper Pilates technique requires acute focus and concentration in order to engage the right, and sometimes very small, muscles. Only through proper technique will you gain the type of focus required for optimal control and body awareness. This increased focus and awareness will not only benefit you throughout all your movements in life, but also with any mental activities or emotional stresses.
Unfortunately the Pilates technique is being diluted more and more through adaptation and by being taught in large group classes. Whilst I am excited that Pilates seems no longer the secret of a few, in my opinion, the Pilates technique is very individual, and is not ideally suited for large class environments. Each body is different, with different imbalances and abilities, therefore the cues and instruction for the same exercise will vary from body to body; something that is very difficult to do in groups larger than 10. I often see clients who have previously practised Pilates in large classes or gym-like settings, who are simply engaging their arms and legs, with no connection to their powerhouse - the essence of Pilates.
That is the reason I specialise in small classes and require new clients to complete at least one, and preferably three, private classes prior to joining my group classes. Without the safe and precise Pilates technique, the real benefits of Pilates for the mind and body are lost. With individual training we can undertake a holistic body assessment and understand your body's individual needs, thus enabling us to prevent or treat injuries and optimise the outcomes.
Above all, Pilates should be enjoyable, feel fluid and connected, and like a deep workout for both the body and the mind.