Pilates is a system of focused movements and breathing techniques aimed at improving flexibility, posture, and strength without adding muscle mass. Pilates exercises draw on the "powerhouse" region of the body, comprised of the abs and buttocks, for the execution of poses. Whether you’re a staunch Pilates devotee, or are interested in finding some Pilates classes in your neighborhood, the following guide has the information you’ll need to enhance your practice (and your butt!).
Although the practice of Pilates is approaching its centennial, its popularity has risen markedly in the past 10 years or so. The sites below deliver basic information on Pilates philosophy, Pilates exercises, and Pilates equipment.
- This section will introduce you to what Pilates is, but each instructor will have their own modifications to the technique.
- Although Joseph Pilates first developed his technique using specific machinery, many people simply practice mat Pilates. Learn the difference between mats and machines before you choose a course of study.
For a history of pilates ...
Balanced Body Pilates
This site offers one of the more comprehensive biographies of Joseph Pilates you’ll find and also includes information about the development of the movement as well as sells pilates equipment. If you’re inspired by the history, read about the benefits of Pilates
For a general introduction …
offers various Pilates videos. This one, which introduces you to the essential elements of Pilates, begins by pointing out that very few people know exactly what Pilates is. If you fall into this category, you might want to explore the rest of the videos about Pilates available here.
has an introductory guide to Pilates from the book The Pilates Body, by Brooke Siler. This guide touches on the fundamental principles behind the Pilates method and offers instruction for six beginning moves.
The Pilates Method Alliance
is a nonprofit organization dedicated to governing Pilates instruction in the United States and abroad through a standardized certification process. This page is an introduction to Pilates that explains its myriad benefits, describes the original technique and machinery designed by Pilates, and provides a few historical pictures.
For introductions to Pilates machines …
describes the most popular pieces of machinery you might use if you chose to extend your Pilates practice beyond the mat. This page gives a quick summary of each, and you can click on the name of a piece you’re interested in for more in-depth information.
has a great 41-page beginner’s manual on using the Pilates Reformer, which is a home fitness machine designed to combine resistance training with a typical Pilates workout. For those without a Reformer, this introductory booklet, located in the "Downloads" section, can still enrich your understanding of the method.
Although there are many varieties of Pilates, you can’t do any of them without some preliminary instruction. That might mean checking out a few Pilates exercises online, finding a class to take, or committing to study with a Pilates instructor.
- If you’re a Pilates teacher or you own a studio, many online directories will let you add your studio for free.
- Most argue that the best way to study Pilates, at least in the early stages, is with a private instructor. If you do elect to take a class or study at home, pay close attention to form and nuance. An exercise performed incorrectly may produce no effect, or could prove harmful.
- Pilates necessitates special equipment and gear, such as a mat or a Pilates Reformer machine. Explore these options in the “Where can I buy gear and apparel?” section and the “What are the different kinds of Pilates?” section of this guide.
My Yoga Online
brings you full-screen, DVD-quality online Pilates video courses. To access courses you need to pay for a membership; an unlimited membership is $9.95 per month. You are permitted to try a sample video before signing up.
is a trademarked Pilates style, described fully in the “What are the different kinds of Pilates?” section of this guide. While there’s plenty of information on the site about equipment to buy and classes to sign up for, it also offers these instructions for a basic Stott Pilates warm-up. Learn the five basic principles of Stott Pilates before you start, and then practice the warm-up.
isn’t pretty, but it does have over 75 pictures and descriptions of Pilates exercises and stretches. This site is a useful resource, especially if you’re interested in looking up a term or element of the practice.
For finding a pilates instructor ...
can help you find an instructor near you. You have to enter your name and address so that the finder will seek out up to 15 locations for Pilates classes near you. You’ll also have the option of signing up to receive a catalogue and mailings.
PMA Pilates Certified
is a directory that can help you locate PMA-certified Pilates instructors in your area. The organization is still relatively young, which means its membership is somewhat low. Because of this, you may find course listings to be spotty in non-metropolitan areas.
The Pilates Foundation
offers some guidelines for choosing a teacher. Although the site heavily advocates choosing foundation-certified teachers, it also suggests questions you may want to ask other teachers. The foundation is based in the United Kingdom, so its own teacher network will only be helpful to those living there.
For finding a pilates instructor or class by state …
has a directory of Pilates resources that you can search by state. Once you enter your state you’ll chose from its cities and areas, then learn what studios, teachers, and classes are available.
magazine offers a studio finder by state. It’s less specific than the Pilates Insight directory, as you don’t get to choose your city, but you may find resources listed in one directory that aren’t in the other.
Good Time Golf
claims that Pilates will improve your performance in a variety of sports. The site has several videos portraying Pilates exercises that promise to improve your golf swing and game.
offers luxury vacations that include Pilates instruction. The program is run by just one woman, so the schedule is limited, but a few trips are scheduled each year that are devoted to giving you the complete mind-body experience. The vacations include Pilates, yoga, water movement and Gyrokinesis. Check the calendar
for information on upcoming trips.
Various teachers have modified Joseph Pilates' original technique, and there are numerous ways you can practice. Several Pilates teachers have taken their knowledge of Pilates to develop and teach modified versions of the original practice, such as Fletcher Pilates, Stott Pilates, Power Pilates, and Winsor Pilates.
- If you're interested in reading about the court ruling that determined Pilates to be a generic form of exercise and not a trademarked name, you'll find the article on Balanced Body's Web site.
- It's hard to say objectively whether one type of Pilates is really better than another. Remember that each of these styles is represented by a commercial business that wants to sell its product. Before you choose a style or program, carefully outline your goals so you can easily determine which classes can best meet those goals.
For major branches of Pilates ...
, taught by The Ron Fletcher Company, is a technique developed through study with Joseph and Clara Pilates, Martha Graham, and other industry innovators. Learn about the technique on this sleek site, which explains the elements of the practice in detail, with pictures.
incorporates contemporary exercise techniques and attentiveness to spinal cord injuries. The technique was invented by a former dancer and has its own teacher training program and certification. The FAQ
provides the most comprehensive introduction to the method. You can also learn about equipment, classes, and teacher training on the site.
certifies instructors to teach a classical method closely tied to the original work of Joseph Pilates. There is an emphasis on safe practicing, and a commitment to helping bodies both grow stronger and heal.
, founded by Mari Winsor, is one of the more well-known styles of Pilates, as Mari Winsor launched a large-scale infomercial business based on her success with celebrity clients. This is the "as seen on TV" site, so it's loud, flashy, and certainly trying to sell stuff, but many people swear by the products offered.
is a machine that offers complete range of motion and improves core strength, expands the spine, and puts the body in equilibrium. Although not technically Pilates, Pilates principles are applied on a Gyrotonic machine, and it may be used as a supplement to Pilates study.
While some people will only need to purchase a Pilates mat and stretchy pants, others may decide to invest in their own Pilates reformer. Whatever your needs are, the sites below offer the best in Pilates gear.
- If you practice Pilates at a studio, the studio probably has most of the equipment you need.
- Some of the sites dealing in machinery cater toward studio owners. Look for special information geared to helping you build your business.
is "a lifestyle company" with a substantial Pilates section. Here, you'll find a section on Pilates gear that includes mats and exercise equipment, as well as a section on media and books. The site also sells DVDs and videos
for beginning and advanced students.
is another major dealer of Pilates machinery. The company also sells DVDs and clothing, and offers an education program. You can find helpful, more obscure information, such as how to lease equipment if you're not ready to buy.
The following organizations have developed official certification programs and standards for what makes a good, safe Pilates teacher. You'll learn about teacher certification programs and requirements in the sites below.
- Most of the organizations below offer their own teacher training programs, but in some cases, alternate training is accepted, especially if a teacher has a number of years of experience. Review the details listed on each site carefully.
- The schools of Pilates listed in the "What are the different kinds of Pilates?" section of this guide also offer certification programs.
The Pilates Method Alliance
is a nonprofit organization that represents the Pilates method internationally. The PMA initiated the first industry-wide teacher certification exam in 2005. Read "What is the PMA
" to learn about its origins as well as its standards and regulations for teachers. You can use the site both to find certified teachers and learn about getting certified.
The Pilates Physical Mind Institute
tells you what to look for in a Pilates certification program. The institute certainly is trying to pitch its own certification program, but by learning its stance, you can begin to form your own opinions. You can hear an MP3 of the president discussing certification, and e-mail her with further questions. The Pilates Physical Mind Institute is run out of New York.
The United States Pilates Association
represents the New York Pilates Studio Teacher Certification program, the oldest and first certification program. You can learn about regulations and certifications, or find a center near you.
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