Pilates Programming

There are several common misconceptions about Pilates and yoga, particularly with regard to the level of difficulty. Many believe that the techniques are so difficult that a high degree of flexibility is required. It is also assumed that these exercises are for “dancer-type” people, who are aware of their bodies and able to balance easily.

While both disciplines focus on the use of the body’s own weight for exercise, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core of the body. This will help the body function more naturally by developing better posture. This is accomplished through strict focus on the muscles and lengthening them during each exercise. With the Pilates focus on posture, the body remains lifted rather than sunken and heavy.

Pose For The Mirror

One positive aspect of Pilates is that some results are immediate. Stand before a mirror and turn to the side. Look at your neck, shoulders, back and knees. Everyone can improve these posture areas. Pilates focuses on lengthening the neck and knees, keeping the shoulders from rounding and correcting an exaggerated sway in the lower back. The results can be seen immediately, but continued Pilates exercises will teach how to maintain good posture comfortably. Most people find corrected posture uncomfortable, which is why the focus on the core muscles of the body is so important.

Reforming Mindset

Similar to weight training, Pilates can be done on a machine called the Reformer. The exercises may be either assisted by a Pilates trainer or completed alone. This is appealing to all levels of Pilates students because it is less intimidating than a yoga class full of super-flexible students and the possibility of falling.

The Pilates Reformer keeps the body aligned during exercises and provides resistance training. While the machine looks complicated, it is actually a simple one that, once you take the time to learn its functions, provides development of good posture, core strength and flexibility. Flexibility training in a yoga class is normally unassisted, making it difficult to learn or push one’s limits. Machine-assisted flexibility training is helpful for beginners because they are usually unaware of where their body is in its space, making the possibility for poor posture significant. The Reformer does not allow for bad posture because of its fixed shape. This is much like machines at a fitness center, which force good posture, compared to free-weight training, which may allow for the body’s alignment to change during the exercises.

Pilates is gaining popularity in fitness centers with some even offering classes with the use of Reformers. One drawback to offering this type of class is the expense of the machine, typically around $300 for private use and over $2,000 for commercial use. However, offering the use of a private Pilates trainer can be worth its weight in gold. Private classes range from $30 per half hour to $200 per half hour, depending on the location. As in every situation, if you are planning to begin offering this service, first research what you can charge in your area!

Kati Trammel is an advertising and public relations specialist in Lakeland, Fla. She can be reached at katitram@yahoo.com.