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Thursday, January 6, 2011

How Many Times a Week Should I Do Pilates?

This is one of the first questions that I get asked by a new client. In order to see and feel results it's best to do Pilates 2-3 times a week. Pilates is a form of exercise that is a learning process. When a client first comes in for an intro, I inform them that there are three main components that they will be learning about. These are....

1. Learning to do the movements.
2. Learning the muscles used to do those movements.
3. And the breathing.

Most clients that start off will have to give it about 5-6 sessions in order to understand the basic verbal cues and concepts involved in the exercises. The client will first start to feel more stretched out and feel like they are standing taller. After those initial sessions, clients can then begin to concentrate on really working into the muscles since the movements aren't so foreign anymore. One of the last things that will probably connect with a client is the specialized breathing. Every movement has a specific breath attached to it and very time I cue an exhale, the chances of a new client inhaling is pretty probable. It is always the last thing that comes natural....when all else fails....just breathe. Pilates is like any learned behavior. The more you practice it and the longer you do it, the better you'll get at it.

Most clients find that Pilates becomes a way of life and it's not just a workout fad. Pilates requires full concentration in order to do it effectively. People with extreme monkey mind (Me!) often find that their minds become diluted of clutter since they are fully focused on the exercises. There are also limited reps done in Pilates. The goal is to be so focused on your body and muscles that you only 5-15 of one exercise and then we move on to the next exercises. This allows us to work more muscle groups within the hour. Another plus is that within the hour you'll be working out all the muscle groups so nothing is left untouched. The body will be worked and stretched out as a whole.

Keep in mind that the Pilates method has over 500 exercises when used as a total system. Budget is always a factor, I know, but whenever possible clients should be doing mat classes, equipment class and privates. Not participating in mat class because it's too hard is totally lame. Doing only equipment because it's fun, new and exciting will eventually cause a plateau, especially if you are only working on the reformer. There is also a trapeze table, chair and a barrel to consider. Privates, although costly, can benefit individuals that are struggling in certain areas and would like a deeper insight into certain exercises. The occasional private can be a good treat to jump start some new muscles that might not get used in a group class situation.

I also never detour a client from doing other forms of exercise. Joseph Pilates meant for this system to enhance your other activities. If you still like to weight train, go for it! Your form will probably be better. I work like a dog in my Pilates studio so I like to pop down the street for a bikram yoga class to switch things up. I need cardio so I go to the gym and do the elliptical. The more you do...the better your feel.

In the next few blog posts I'll go more in depth into the initial three theories listed above. Until then, go take a Pilates class!


  1. A lot of people who take up Pilates thinking it as a fad also find that they make new friends through it, so tend to stay the course.

  2. Pilates has really jump started me into a healthier lifestyle all around... and yes, "Wayne" defintely has introduced me to some new friends!

  3. As someone that is came to Pilates morbidly obese I can tell you that I actually find offense to the sentence "Not participating in mat class because it's too hard is totally lame. "

    Have YOU ever tried to do some of those exercises while toting around 270 pounds? This is exactly why the reformer was built - to REFORM the body. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Joseph Pilates create the system around people doing just that?

    Seriously - I'm doing a huge life makeover and busting my butt roughly 12-15 times a month in a Pilates studio. Seeing HUGE results and feeling very encouraged. If my instructor said something like THAT to me it would completely take the wind out of my sails, hurt my feelings and have a very negative impact on my view of working with them.

    Words matter.

  4. Freckles? Where in the article did it insinuate anything about weight?

    I enjoy comments and opinions but please don't take an informative article and put a discriminatory spin on it. I think it's great you are on such a wonderful journey with Pilates! You are however making false assumptions about the way I treat people and that is uncalled for as well as incorrect. I take great pride in having a studio that is accepting and loving to any individual that wishes to change their life no matter what their personal obstacles are. My purpose in life is to make people feel better about themselves....not worse. I get thanked daily for that.

    By the way, I still stand by my comment "Not participating in mat class because it's too hard is totally lame." If you don't want to do it in a group setting then you should be doing it in your privates.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. My studio doesn't even offer mat classes until you are in multi-level (you can see the checklist of those items over on my blog).

    Calling someone lame is...lame. I've listened to judgemental comments for years and this hits me on that level. I'm not trying to put my issues on you, but you could be more sensitive to folks that have really significant physical limitations.

  7. Yes! You are providing Nice tips About the weight lose...I like your post!

  8. It would really be wise to take a Pilates class if it is your first time. DVDs and other materials can be helpful but it would be more effective if you learn how Pilates works first. Be guided with the correct movements and you'll effectively get fit and healthy with Pilates.

  9. Pilates is suitable for all fitness levels, body types and ages. Pilates is supportive of weight loss. If you want to burn calories and lose weight, you might want to create opportunities to do your Pilates with more zest. One of the best ways to do that is to get the Pilate principles of breath and flow working for you and pick up the pace.. Thanks a lot.
    Kinesiology Tape

  10. Hello,

    Thanks for the informative article. I just wanted to ask your opinion on something:
    It is impossible geographically and financially for me to have access to pilates classes, so have been following online pilates videos.
    I worry that I may be doing things wrong without supervision. My question is, is it better not to do pilates at all outside of a class?
    I could take up another type of exercise if this is the case.

    Many thanks,