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!